Friday, December 28, 2012

Cost of Biking

A lot of people that I meet on my trips comment about how expensive it is to travel, or how they wish they could do it, or even that I must be a millionaire.

So I decided to break down the total costs of the trip. I already had all of my camping gear, including stuff like a tent, sleeping bag, clothing, etc, so this is just the cost of the biking.

Bike: $450
Racks: $70
Panniers: $130
Tools: $65
Pump: $30
Maintenance: $15
Add-ons (mirror, pedal cage, reflectors, etc): $68
Replacement tire: $27
Misc (gloves, helmet, etc): $87
Total equipment: $942

Campgrounds (4 nights on California coast):$19
Hostel in San Diego: $22
Total lodging: $41

Total food: $479

Total Cost: $1462

Number of Days: Aug 22-Dec 12: 112 days
Cost per Day: $13.05

However, now that I have all of my equipment purchased, any future bike trips will be just paying for food, lodging, and any maintenance. That means roughly $5-7 per day. That's pretty reasonable for anybody.

Granted I was stealth camping or on public land most of the time, which saved a ton of money, but so can anyone else. Warmshowers helped out a bit as well, providing free places to stay in some towns. Even just staying in camprounds could up the price by $10-20 per day. I am used to camping in the woods, so I am fine not at a campground, and that adds up to a cheap way of traveling for me.

And no, I am not a millionaire :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Reassembly and Homebound

After getting in to the Greyhound station in Rochester NY around 8:00pm I had the fun job of putting my bike back together. Fortunately there were only 4 other people in the small station, so I didn't have people wandering around me all the time. The greyhound employees were also behind a wall from me, so they didn't have the opportunity to yell at me.

Overall it took about an hour or so to put the bike back together, making sure everything was working as I went along. The other people in the station gave me some strange looks, but went back to normal disinterest after a bit.

Since the station was in the middle of the city I had to ride out for about 10 miles to get to a good spot to camp. Along the way I ended up having to re-inflate my tires 3 times. Apparently the slime that had been holding my tires together doesn't like freezing temperatures. It probably doesn't distribute properly in the tire to seal any leaks. While its not fun to deal with flats at any time, it especially sucks when its dark out and freezing cold.

After setting up my tent for the night I changed out one of my tubes for my last spare, and called it a night. The next morning I did the last ten miles to my parents house, and the spare seemed to hold. Now its time to do some long needed maintenance on my bike, and try to enjoy the holidays.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Another Greyhound Adventure

After spending my last night on the bike trip, my host drove me and my boxed up bike to the Greyhound station around 7:30am, since she had to work around 8:00. I knew the bus wasn't supposed to leave for several hours, so I checked in my box and waited. The bike box actually weighed in at 53 pounds, over the limit, but the station attendant let it slide, which probably saved $40 in overweight charges.

Then the fun began. The bus coming in to Roswell was more than two hours later, coming from El Paso. According to the driver it was due to icy roads, but that doesn't really account for all the time. Then, leaving Roswell we were traveling around 30mph down an absolutely clear highway. Finally one of the passengers complained and the driver said there was engine trouble, and it was smoking, so we pulled off the side of the road for her to check something.

When we pulled back on the road the smoking had stopped, but we were still only doing around 30mph, even with the pedal all the way down. The driver announced over the PA that we could either limp along the highway towards Amarillo, or wait for a bus to catch us from El Paso. The Amarillo option was faster, so that is what she was going for.

When we got to the next town the dispatch called her and told her to stop the bus there, and they would send another bus from Amarillo, which would take about 3 hours. Fortunately there was a McDonalds close by, and a Dollar General.

When we finally got to Amarillo we were 8 hours late, so they had to reroute everyone. They did give complementary meal tickets, but they were for the in-station restaurant, which was typical really bad food. When I finally got rerouted they sent me through St. Louis and Cleveland, instead of through Memphis, and I would have to wait about 5 hours for the next bus.

The positive side of the reroute was that from there on out I was on the newer style of bus, including electric outlets and wireless. Also, for some reason the baggage handling policy was different on that schedule, so the handlers would actually move my bike box over to the new bus for me. Usually you have to move it yourself.

The really bad part of the reroute was that instead of getting in around 10:30am in Rochester, I would be getting in at 8:00pm, well after dark. Originally I was planning on riding all the way to my parents house that day (~20 miles), but the darkness changed that around.

Monday, December 10, 2012

One last night

I decided a little while ago that I would be temporarily ending my bike trip, for a couple of reasons. Originally I was going to be working in Florida for the winter, but that fell through. The company wasn't able to figure out if they could insure me or not, since their insurance company never responded to more than a month of calls and emails.

Ending the trip is a bit more complicated than I had originally thought. I had to figure out where I was going to end it, try to set up a warmshowers host, tear apart and box up the bike, and buy a greyhound ticket. Boxing up the bike was definitely the most complicated part of the process.

I ended up deciding on Roswell NM partly because of the greyhound schedules and partly because of warmshowers. If I had ended the trip in Carlsbad it would have meant an extra day on the bus, since the first bus schedule would have taken me back to El Paso, then a roundabout route from there. Instead, I can go more directly from Roswell, and save myself that extra day.

Then came the dilemma of the bike. I figured that any bike shop would be able to supply a bike box, so I wasn't too worried about that aspect. However, when I got into town there was only one small bike repair shop, and they were closed. It seemed likely that they wouldn't have a box anyways, given the type of shop.

I tried behind a Sears, but all of their cardboard was crushed right away, so I went to the dumpsters next door behind a family dollar. Their cardboard wasn't crushed, but it was smaller boxes than I would have liked, but I would have to make due. I ended up grabbing a couple of bigger boxes and tying them on the back of the bike.

Fortunately when I got to my warmshowers host she had planned ahead a bit, since I had emailed that I was hoping to box up the bike. My host had saved several boxes, including a wheel box left behind by previous bikers when they had ordered a new wheel online. Probably the best part though was that her neighbor was visiting her, and mentioned that she had just gotten a mattress, and still had half of the box left over.

I ended up using the mattress box, plenty of packing tape, and a bit of rope to keep the box together. It wasn't a perfect packing job, but after taking the bike all apart the box fit relatively well. The torn apart bike was all taped together, in hopes of reducing damage from greyhound baggage handlers.

And the next morning was a perfect ending to the trip. I had avoided snow the entire trip, and on the last morning I woke up to a wonderful view:


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Another National Park day, this time just a day trip to Carlsbad Caverns. In the caverns there are a few options for which caves to explore, including self guided and ranger guided trips. I decided to go down the Natural Entrance and then explore the Big Cave, which are both self-guided trips. That covers more than 90% of the actual caverns, so I didn't miss much by skipping out on the ranger guided trips.

The first thing I was impressed by was the sheer scale of the caverns. In the Natural Entrance, you start going down a steep path, and then you just keep going down further and further. Looking up in the caverns gives you a feel for the scale of the caves, but they are gigantic.

Then you start factoring in all of the 'decorations' of the caves, which are the stone structures that have been created over thousands of years. A lot of them are pretty plain, but some are actually quite intricate, with all sorts of ripples, folds, and coloring. The whole cave is lit by electric lights, but in an appropriate way. The lighting lends a feel of being in a cathedral, and everyone tended to talk in whispers.

Probably my best pictures:

See the rest of my Carlsbad pictures here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

I just spent the last three days exploring Guadalupe Mountains National Park, finally spending a night in one of the parks. They allow free backcountry camping, so I left my bike at the visitor center and took off for two nights to go backpacking for a bit. The only catch is that there are no water sources in the backcountry, so I had to carry all of my water with me. I had already been doing that on the bike, so I had enough capacity, but it was still pretty heavy. Good thing I'm in good shape from previous backpacking and now all the biking.
I left the visitor center in the afternoon and hiked about 4 miles up 2000 feet to a campsite called Pine Top for the first night. Thankfully there were a bunch of trees in the area, because it was pretty windy all day long. Camping in a bunch of trees is definitely a nice change from what I have been doing. Also, getting away from any traffic noises was a nice reward for the steep climb up.

The second day I went for a day-hike from my camp, on a loop called The Bowl, which is basically a big depression on the top of the mountains, which has been home to a Ponderosa Pine forest. There was some fire damage from a forest fire in 1990, but the forest has regrown quite a bit since then.

The last day I hiked back down to the visitor center, then went on a day hike from the visitor center to a place called Devils Hall, which is a natural stone staircase at the bottom of a steep canyon with nearly vertical walls.

See the rest of my Guadalupe pictures here.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Border Patrol

Today I passed through a Border Patrol checkpoint, one of several that I have been through. They seem  to be permanent checkpoints, but they aren't actually at the border crossings. I think they are just to systematically check for any non-citizens.

This particular check was interesting because it was in the middle of nowhere so they were pretty surprised to see a biker. It was at least 150 miles of nothingness between the towns, so they wanted to make sure I had enough water, etc. Since I knew the distance, I had prepared by taking an extra gallon of water with me. I think they didn't realize the kind of distance that someone can cover on a bike, thinking that I would be out for a week or so between towns. They did offer me extra water just in case, but I didn't need any more, so after they confirmed I was a US citizen they let me pass.

Friday, November 30, 2012


Well, my first night spent in Texas and it's already living up to its reputation. I was camped out on BLM land just east of El Paso, a little ways back from the main highway. It seemed like a pretty good campsite, where I wouldn't hear the traffic as much, and where I wouldn't be bothered by anyone since it was public land.

Instead, about an hour after dark I woke up to several ATVs revving their engines, and then spent the next several hours listening to pretty continuous gunfire. I'm pretty sure they were't hunters, since it was well after dark, and they were firing off entire clips in a matter of seconds. I don't know how you can aim 12 shots in a matter of 15 or 20 seconds, but they didn't seem to care. Also, I don't know what they were firing at, since it was way to dark to actually see any targets, but they seemed boisterous and happy.

I guess that's what I get for camping to close to a major city in Texas on a Friday night.

Falling apart

My bike is finally starting to fall apart. I now have slimed both of my tires, since even the thorn proof tire was going flat. The slime seems to be holding up though.

Also, the tire that I bought back near Capitol Reef has several cuts going straight through the actual tire. Not sure what could have caused that, other than a knife or something, but it is bad news. The actual tread  is still relatively fine though, so I'm planning on using the tire for a bit longer. So far it has almost 3000 miles on it. Not bad for a $27 tire.

The worst part happened today after I did some grocery shopping. My kick stand completely disintegrated. It wasn't just that it came apart, but that the metal actually snapped. To be fair, I did just throw a weeks worth of groceries on the rear wheel, but I wasn't expecting the kickstand, of all things, to break next.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


How to make money from cops:

I was riding along the shoulder of I-10 in New Mexico when a cop pulled over in front of me. Since he didn't have his lights going I checked behind me to make sure no trucks were coming, and then just went around him. As I was going by he yelled for me to pull over, so I did, figuring he just wanted to make sure I was ok.

Instead, he started questioning me about what I was doing, where I was going, etc, so I explained the basis of my trip. After talking for a bit he told me that I wasn't allowed to ride on the interstate, and he would have to give me a ticket. Now the rules differ by state, some allow you to ride interstates only if there isn't a similar parallel route, others allow it as long as there isn't heavy traffic, etc. I wasn't sure of the NM rules, but I knew that all the on-ramps had signs saying that pedestrians and motor driven cycles aren't allowed, but that bicycles should use shoulder only.

Knowing this I told him I was pretty sure I was allowed to be there, and could show him signs proving that. He was pretty skeptical, so I ended up making a bet with him, unofficially of course. If I could prove that I was allowed to be there, he would pay me the fine for the ticket he had tried to give me. If I couldn't immediately prove that I was allowed to be there, I would have to take the ticket and pay the fine. Fair enough by me.

I ended up locking my bike to itself with the rear wheel locked up, then jumping in the back of the police car. We took a U-turn on the interstate and went back to the last exit/on-ramp to see if there was any signage. Sure enough, there was one of the little "bicycles use should only" signs. The cop was pretty surprised, and said he was going to look into the relevant laws later, but drove me back to my bike and paid for the bet. Not a bad way to make a few bucks, although it was pretty stressful to deal with any kind of cop in that situation.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I didn't even think about today being Thanksgiving until yesterday, when I heard some people talking about the holidays. I wasn't really hoping for much, since I didn't have anything really set up through warmshowers for a place to stay, so I was probably going to be on the side of the road camped out somewhere.

Until JB stopped me on the side of the road. It was getting a bit late, almost sunset, and he wanted to know if I had anywhere to go or someone to celebrate with. I told him I didn't, and ended up going back to his house, which I had pretty much just passed. JB didn't have anything really planned, and he would have been spending the holiday alone as well, so it worked out nicely for both of us. 

He ended up getting a prepared takeout meal from somewhere in town, and we talked for quite a while about a lot of outdoors type stuff. He works as a landscaper, but is really a naturalist at heart, and spends quite a bit of time outdoors. All in all, a good way to spend the holiday.

Saguaro National Park

I'm not quite sure what I was expecting for Saguaro National Park, but this wasn't really it. I visited the eastern portion of Saguaro National Park, which is right on the border of Tuscon, AZ. Essentially this visit consisted of an 8 mile loop road that went through a bunch of desert terrain. It was pretty cool to be zooming downhill past a bunch of really sharp plants on either side.

The actual "saguaro" forest has been coming and going since the creation of the park. Apparently a variety of environmental factors have caused a lot of them to die off, creating much less of a forest appearance. Then, restrictions on grazing rights in the park have caused an increase in the number of new saguaro plants growing, so we'll have to wait and see if the forest can recover.

See the pictures:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


While I was heading down I-10 from Phoenix to Tuscon I saw a billboard advertising "Biosphere2." I remembered from a while back about the project, and decided to go see it, even though it was probably at least a day out of the way for me.

The original bioshpere2 project was a study in closed environments. They originally had 8 people sealed in the dome for 2 years, studying the environment and conducting experiments. The next group only lasted a couple of months before they closed it down. The problem was that most of the time was spent gathering food, rather than conducting experiments.

The end result is that the biosphere2 project was opened up, and used as a giant ecosystem laboratory. They also have turned it into a giant tourism place, with tours going out every 20 minutes or so into the biosphere, showing off the old exhibits as well as the current research. It was pretty interesting to see the entire building as one giant greenhouse, as well as the efforts that went into controlling the ecosystem and creation of the weather.

See the pictures here:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Chance encounters

Since I was basically in the middle of San Diego, I decided to stay in a hostel in the area, rather than trying to find an out of the way spot to camp for the night. I ended up at Banana Bungalow Hostel, right on the coast, with nice beach right out the front door.

It was pretty much a standard hostel from my experience, but the coolest part was in the morning as I was about to leave. As I was heading out the door another guy was coming in the door. As he passed by I thought his backpack looked familiar, so I called out to him. It turns out that he was the same guy that I met in Tehachapi, CA, who was hiking the PCT going southbound. We stopped and talked for a bit about what had transpired since we met, and how our trips were going. He had finished up the PCT by Campo, and was taking some time off at the hostel in San Diego to cool off. He also had some plans to buy a boat at one of the marinas, so that could be interesting.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Los Angeles whirlwind

I spent the day touring Los Angeles. Fortunately I was traveling by rail, after leaving my bike at a warmshowers host in Long Beach. Much easier way of traveling, I must say. It was a very brief overview of the city, since I only had a day, but I packed a lot into that day, starting at Union Station.



One of the rail stations, I forget which one, had a bunch of flying people in it. No idea why, but that seemed to be the decoration theme for the area


A few other highlights:

...some nice fountains in the Grand Park area

...and the Space Shuttle Endeavor

... and ending the day at Watts Towers, a huge pile of artistic scraps

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sails and Seals

After a couple of dreary days on the coast the weather has drastically improved. Clear skies, sunny, and no wind. Also, the terrain has leveled out, so I am one happy camper/biker.

With the change in weather I have seen more people out and about, including kite surfers, something I had always wanted to try. Basically surfing, but you have a giant kite that pulls you along.

I also stopped by a small cove, which looked like it had a bunch of bags washed up on the shore. It turned out they were all elephant seals. A lot of them looked pretty dead, but a few were moving around the shores and a bit more active.


I ended the day by Morro Bay, which has a giant rock sticking up out of it. I had set up a warmshowers host, which worked out quite nicely. Lately I have been having much better luck with warmshowers than I did in the beginning. It might be that I have a few more miles under my belt, which makes me seem much more like a biker than when I first started


Dreary, Hilly Coast

So far I have been on the Pacific Coast for two days, and haven't really seen the sun at all. Its been pretty foggy and overcast. While I can see the road ahead for a few miles, it is not very picturesque. To top things off, this area of the coast is pretty hilly, so I am always climbing. The Big Sur area is supposed to be one of the best parts of the Pacific Coast route, and I can definitely understand why, but unfortunately I haven't really seen it for myself.

There was one really nice spot, which I was glad that I took the time to get off the bike and see. There was a state park along the beach that had a pretty good size waterfall off of a cliff right onto the sandy beach along a little cove.




Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hitting the Coast

I finally made it over to the Pacific Coast today, but not in a very dramatic fashion. I rode through the town of Watsonville in a dense fog, so I couldn't really see that much. There seemed to be a lot of industrial buildings on the ocean side of town, and then a bunch of agriculture beyond that. This was my first time on the Pacific Coast Bike Route, which I followed trying to get to a beach and the ocean. That didn't work out too well, so eventually I just ended up cutting over based on directions from google maps, which didn't work out either. The directions took me through a gated community, where I had to explain what I was doing to a local to get in, and then I had to drag my bike across a bit of dunes to get to the water (a real pain with a fully loaded bike).

Finally I got to the water, and the fog lifted a bit so I could see up and down the coast for a little ways, but still not a nice beach day. I did see a seal in the water though, which I haven't seen before. After taking a nice long break I headed back inland to the Pacific Coast Route and turned south.



Monday, October 29, 2012

Killing time

I haven't done a whole lot in the past week or so, just killed a lot of time. While the break is nice, the main reason for the pause is because I am waiting to hear back from a potential employer. They want to hire me, but there have been some snafus regarding the insurance company. I have been trying to schedule most of my days so I can be near a pay phone at some point in the day to call them and find out any updates. It's even worse since they are on the east coast, so I am dealing with a three hour time difference as well.

At least it fits in with my modified LNT motto. "Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time."

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Yosemite National Park

Today was another National Park day. I spent the first half of the day just getting into the park, coming from the small town of Fish Camp, roughly 35 miles from the main valley. Several good climbs along the way, and pretty cold temperatures. It was supposed to be roughly 15-20 degrees tonight, with rain/snow the next day.

I decided to skip the side trips to some sequoias, since I have already seen a bunch, and spend more time in the valley. There are several large rock formations along the valley, and usually some good waterfalls as well. Unfortunately it was very dry, so a lot of the waterfalls either weren't flowing, or were considerably diminished from their spring grandeur.

The diminished water levels actually made one of the waterfalls even better though. There was a small waterfall that is known for being blown around by the wind on the way to its bottom. Since there was a lot less water flowing through it, the waterfall didn't actually even get down to the bottom before the wind dispersed it. It was cool to see a waterfall that kept changing back and forth as the wind gusted.

Another water feature was Mirror Lake, but it was entirely dry. Otherwise it is supposed to have a nice reflection of Half Dome, one of the most prominent rock formations. One side of the park is actually closed to vehicles, so I was able to ride around on my bike with just a bunch of pedestrians and other bikers on rental bikes.

On the way out of the park I met two Swiss touring bikers, who were headed into the park and then towards Las Vegas. They didn't realize the weather conditions that were coming up, since they were going over a 10,000+ foot pass on the day of rain and snow. They were still going for it after I mentioned this, but a little bit more cautiously.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Slime, it's a wonderful thing

This morning I spent a bit of time fixing a slow leak in my front tire from yesterday. It was actually a very involved process. I had Slime in my rear tire, but I had also bought a puncture resistant tire, which was a replacement for my rear tire. When I started both tires were the same size, but after Capitol Reef my rear tire is a bit wider.

So the process involved removing the front tire that was flat and removing the rear tire, which had slime in it and no flats. I moved the slimed tire to the front because it was a mediums size that could fit either tire. Then I put the larger puncture resistant tube in the rear, because it wouldn't fit the front. After both tubes were in place I was ready to go.

Then, in the evening after setting up camp I saw something sticking out of my front tire. It was the back of a thorn, which I yanked out, to a rushing of air and a bit of green slime. I panicked for a bit, but then realized I had to spin the tire to redistribute the slime, since the hole was on the top half of the tube. A few spins later and no more air noises, and I don't think I'll even need to repump the tire since I fixed it quickly enough.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Kings Canyon National Park

Today was a very cold morning so I didn't really get started until around ten. I got into the park pretty quick since I had camped just outside the border. I stopped by the visitor center and asked for recommendations and info.

My first stop was the Grant grove, which contains one of the largest trees, the largest by width. There was also a cool dead tree that had been hollowed out sown the middle and fallen over. Part of the trail actually went right down the middle of the tree and out the other side. A bit like the tree in yosemite that had the road going through the base of the trunk, which fell over years ago.

The second stop was a viewpoint called Panoramic Viewpoint. There was a two and a half mile road that gained a thousand feet, and then a short hike to get up to the viewpoint. The viewpoint looked out over all of the major peaks and canyons, and it was a nice preview of the park.
After doing the climb up to the viewpoint I decided that I didn't feel like doing any of the other climbing in the park which would have amounted to more than a mile and a half. Instead I decided to just leave my bike at the visitor center and hitch out and back, since it was a dead end road anyways.

I got a ride from a Russian family that I had met in Grants Grove and at the viewpoint. I had mentioned I was going to hitch when I talked with them but they already had four people in their car so I didn't ask them. Instead they made room for me and we sat three in the back seat.

Greg and Anastasia were a younger couple, and Greg's parents, Alex and Kate had come to visit them for a vacation. The younger couple had actually just finished hitching across Canada, which is why they were extra accommodating to help me.

We went down into the park together and stopped at most of the major attractions to see them and take pictures. There were a couple of nice waterfalls and a lot of good views. They were staying at the end of the park in a campground, so they left me at the roadside to try to hitch back to the top. They promised me that if they saw me on the way back the next day they would pick me up.
I wasn't waiting more than half an hour before an older British couple picked me up. They had spent the day going further into the park towards a backcountry waterfall, and had only seen one other person on their trip. They took me back up to the bike, and I had enough light left to make it out of the park and most of the way down the mountain into warmer areas to camp.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sequoia National Park

This morning I had a large climb into the park, from 1000 feet to over 7000 feet. A large portion of that was done on the park entrance road which was a very narrow mountain road with a lot of steep switchbacks. It was relatively early in the morning, so traffic wasn't very bad. It was still a tiring climb with a lot a of breaks.

Probably the best part of the climb was that there was a mile long section of construction. While the actual construction was pretty annoying it was still nice because they only let traffic through once an hour. After I got through the construction I had an hour long period that there were no cars coming up behind me. Since it was still early in the morning no one was headed out of the park either, so I has the entire road to myself. I road down the middle of the road, still climbing, but less steeply. At that point the road was through a nice forested area with a lot of large ponderosas and a few sequoias mixed in.

By the time I got to the visitor center I had traffic passing me again, but I wanted to take a break anyways and do a little bit of exploring in the area. There was a small meadow surrounded by sequoias, since it provided enough water and sunlight for the trees to grow.

I continued on my way along the road to get to a few other groves of trees, especially the really big ones, like the Sherman tree, which is the largest in the world. Finally I got through the park to an area of national forest where I could camp for the night before I continue on my way to Kings Canyon tomorrow.

Monday, October 15, 2012

2000 Miles

Today I hit the 2000 mile mark, lost more than a mile in elevation, burned half my brake pads, and got invited into a strangers home.

The mile in elevation was mostly between Camp Nelson and Springville, where I basically fell out of the Sierras. Lots of steep hairpin turns and no should. I had to constantly brake to make it around the turns. It wore my brake pads down a lot, to the point where they were squawking horribly when I got to town.

I had previously sent a warmshowers request to a host in town, but I hadn't been able to check email since then. I found out he wasn't able to host, so I was sitting in the middle of town trying to figure out where I was going to sleep and where the closest bike shop was to get new brakes.

That was when Nancy drove by and asked me if I needed anything. I explained what was happening, and she offered to let me sleep at her house for the night. She and her husband had done a few bike tours, and were already having a guest over anyways. I ended up camping on their lawn, since the guest bed was already taken. I also got my bike fixed up, it turned out to be a few slivers of metal stuck in the pad that were doing the worst of the squeaking, so I didn't even need to go to the bike shop.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lost and Found

I have found a whole bunch of stuff on the side of the road so far. Some of it's even useful. Aside from the standard cans, bottles, and car parts, here's a list of what I've found so far.

Digital camera (working) that I sold on eBay
Broken digital camera that I threw away
Old solar panel with broken adapter that I sold on eBay
Working iPhone with cracked screen. I tried to contact the owner but so far no luck
Two broken iPods that I took the batteries from
Drivers license and national parks pass, which I mailed back to the owner
More than a dozen popped bicycle tubes, none of which were the right type for my bike
Two adjustable crescent wrenches
One leatherman


Today was an absolute nightmare. The road that I slept on last night started getting traffic way to early, well before sunrise. I got into town early hoping to be able to take care of everything and head right back out. Unfortunate things didn't work out that way at all.

The library didn't open for several hours so I had to wait on that to start the day. When they did finally open they didn't have wifi. I asked to use a computer there to get online and they made me go through the process to get an actual library card, rather than just use a guest account.

When I finally got online I looked at the town map for a bike shop and a grocery. The closest thing they had for either was a kmart. I did end up checking the kmart for inner tubes, which they did have, just not in the right size. Instead I decided to try out a bit of "slime" which is supposed to clot out leaks in tires.

Next stop was the post office, and three different people told me three different directions to get there, all in different places.

When I finally got ready to leave town I found out that bikes are prohibited on the freeway once you get passed town. Legally this is only allowed if there is a suitable nearby alternative route, so I spent some time riding around looking for that alternative. I didn't find anything so I went back to the library and got back online to get directions. The new route took me a ways out of the way and onto some private roads, etc, so I'm not sure it was any better. Halfway through that route put me back on the freeway, with more "no bicycles" signs. This time I asked some locals, who said to just go for it, and it wasn't a problem to ride the highways.

I rode the highway to the next exit and got off there, again where there was supposed to be an alternate route. This time the back roads involved an extra 1000 ft climb, and then dropping down that distance on an unmarked unlabeled gravel road at probably 15% grade. I had to stop several times to give my hands a break because they were cramping from holding the brakes down. I was also skidding and fishtailing the whole way down, which was exciting. Once that whole descent was finished I was right back on the freeway. Fortunately that was right where I wanted to be, since I could pick up a different north south route from adventure cycling that passed through the area.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I came across the PCT today. I knew it had to be coming up somewhere close but I wasn't sure exactly where. Then I looked up as I was climbing a hill and there were two triangular signs indicating the national scenic trail. Unfortunately bikes are not allowed on the PCT so I couldn't ride anywhere. I did still stop and walk a little ways sown the trail and took a few pictures. The trail in that area was an easement through the wind farm so there wasn't a whole lot there.

On one side of the road there was a small water cache with a town map and a list of trail angels in the town of Tehachapi. I filled up one of the water bottles because I had extra and then went on my way. I debated contacting one of the trail angels in town for a place to stay but decided to leave that for hikers only.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Blown tubes

By this point I have almost gotten used to having to change out tubes at least once a day, if not more. Usually both tires have been flat when I wake up. What I have been doing lately is just pumping them back up and hoping for slow leaks. Sometimes this works fine and I'll only have to repump once. Sometimes they go flat again within a mile or so. This morning I decided to start fresh, with a new tube that I had bought as a replacement back in Hurricane, UT. I had bought it at walmart, where it was the only 700 size tube they had. However it was only supposed to fit a width from 25 to 32, so I had to use it on my front tire. The tire I had bought as my rear replacement is a 35.

After replacing my front tube with the new tube I pumped it up to the recommended pressure, 50-60 psi. When that was done I checked it by hand to feel if it was good to go, and then set it aside on the ground. As soon as I put it on the ground I heard a pop and hiss and the tire deflated. Worse than that, after taking it apart again I saw a good two inch gash where the tube had split down the middle. This had nothing to do with any punctures, it was just a cheap tube I guess. So now I am back to my old tubes and more patches.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Welcome to California

Today I got to the California border on I-15. I was welcomed by a state trooper, an 1800 ft climb to a town with 30 people in it, 2 punctures and 1 pinch flat. Welcome to California.

The state trooper was more curious than anything else. He also knew that I was allowed on the interstate in that area. I have heard from other cyclists that police can be less than knowledgable regarding bicycle law in their areas.

The two punctures were pretty annoying because I had changed tubes this morning due to slow leaks in both. Yesterday I had just decided to keep stopping every 10 miles or so to repump them. One of the punctures today was from a metal wire, probably from a discarded tire. All of my other punctures were from thorns, so this is a first.

The pinch flat was particularly bad because I saw the rock that caused it. I had also just stopped to check both tires and reinflate a slow leak in the front. Fortunately with the pinch flats there isn't anything stuck in the tire, and the hole in the tube is easy to find, unlike a lot of the slow leaks that have been plaguing me.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Last spring I got. New camera, a just released Canon model with a built in gps function. I had held off buying it until the new model was released because it was supposed to fix several problems from the precious model. The only problem with the new model is that I use additional add on software called CHDK which wasn't available for the new model.

Fortunately an updated release of the software just recently came out, which works with the newer model. Basically this adds a bunch of features on to the original functionality of the camera. The major features that I have uses before are HDR auto bracketing, long exposures, and lightning motion capture. There are a bunch of other useful features, but those are the main ones I make use of.


Good day

Today started out bad but definitely got a lot better. The first couple of miles were up a steep hill, and I was still feeling the miles from yesterday. After that though I was able to cost downhill all the way to Arizona and then somewhat to Mesquite, NV.

In Mesquite I stopped by the library to take care of things online. I was planning on spending the afternoon there to avoid the heat and sun in the middle of the day. Instead something even better happened, which made up for yesterday.

While I was outside the library two locals stopped by, Dan and Dennis, on bike. Dan was interested in my travels and invited me back to his house to shower and clean up. We biked back to his house, dropping Dennis off on the way. The offered shower actually turned out even better than advertised when I left my bike in the garage and Dan drove me to the local pool. I'm not sure when the last time I was in a pool was, but it was definitely a while ago.

After getting out and drying off Dan took me to the local casino for a good hearty lunch, which was very filling. After lunch we went back to his house where I took advantage of having a good place to work and fixed all of my tubes. I've lost count, but I'm pretty sure I'm in the 10-15 flats range so far. Utah is definitely where bikes go to die.

After I was all fixed up Dan showed me a couple different routes on a map, basically trying to avoid highways and stay out of the 100+ heat for the next three days or so. He also showed me pictures of a bike trip of his own in New Zealand. Definitely on my todo list, and has been for a while now. Still not sure if I'll bike it or backpack, but at some point I'll be in New Zealand.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Bad day

Today was not a very good day. I left my warmshowers hosts early in the morning feeling very well rested, and with all of my tires repaired.

From there the day went downhill pretty quick. On the way out of town I blew out a tube, which I changed out easily enough. A few minutes later I realized that my replacement had also blown, due to the cheaper patches that I had gotten at walmart, so I had to replace it again. Then my chain started squeaking a lot even though I had just oiled it, so I added more oil.

After passing through Santa Clara I was looking for a good place to camp, since I was getting worn out from climbing hills. Before I found a good spot I wound up on an Indian reservation that had all kinds of signs about no trespassing and no stopping, etc, so I had to do another ten miles to get passed there, even though I was already worn out. Literally right after the reservation property line there was a turnout, so I set up there for the night, pretty much right at sunset.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


So far this trip I have seen the same hitchhiker four different times. The first time I met him was at the Bryce Canyon visitor center. I stopped by to up water bottles and he was filling out a job application. The second time was at the bottom of the Red Canyon, which is just west of the park. He was at an intersection with his thumb out towards Zion. The third time was when I was in the back of a pickup to get through the tunnels in Zion, where bikes aren't allowed. He had his thumb out so the driver stopped for him as well. We talked a bit about where we were both headed, and how we had seen each other before. He continued on in the pickup while I got out after the tunnels. The last time I saw him was at the visitor center in Zion. Apparently he had left his phone in a bathroom to charge and someone turned it in to lost and found. I don't think I'll be seeing him again, since his plan was to head towards the Grand Canyon next, while I'm headed west again.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Another day, another flat

Today was mostly downhill, so I spent a good part of the afternoon in a town park charging electronics and sorting through a bunch of pictures to upload. That way I can make good use of the time without overshooting my planned destination for the night.

Once I got started again I got to another little town where I saw a in biking gear with a loaded bike around the side of the building. I stopped over to say hi, but she didn't speak much English so the conversation was pretty short. I mostly got that she had come from the Grand Canyon and was headed to Zion the next day, and then east along the way I came.

After leaving her I started uphill towards Zion, when I immediately got a flat front tire. Again this one was due to the same sharp spiky plant as the other three flats. I was in the process of changing it when a couple that was touring headed the other way stopped to see if I needed help. They were also European and were also planning on taking the same route that I just took. It's most interesting because it is not one of the official Adventure Cycling routes, just one that I put together to hit a bunch of National Parks.

After getting the tire changed I started on my way again, when it started to rain. I'm just glad I got the tire changed quickly to avoid the rain.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Spooky nights

I spent last night I a graveyard, the second time I have done so on this trip. They aren't really scary or anything. Actually they are nice and quite, almost park like. I don't sleep on the graves, that would be a bit to weird or disrespectful for me, but somewhere off to the side is often nice.

This cemetery was actually really nice, with well watered grass. The little caretakers shed even had an outside faucet as well as an outside electric plug, so I was able to charge electronics, at least until it started to rain. Thats when I ducked inside my tent and made sure that everything was waterproofed. The rain stopped shortly, but by then it was already dark and I didn't feel like sitting in the dark just to charge something.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Once I got to Bryce I found out something really cool about the park which helped me out a lot. Apparently the park is too overpopulated during the summer months, so the park runs a shuttle bus along all the tourist points in the park. This gave me a break and saved some time and effort.

The major attraction at Bryce is the hoodoos which are tall rock spires. Basically it is part of the side of a plateau that has eroded strangely, not really a canyon at all.

I decided to use the shuttle bus a bit, but also take advantage of not having the bike to go hiking along the rim trail to see a bit more of the park. I have to say there is an amazing variety to the people in the parks. Most of them don't seem to be very much the outdoor type, but instead just the general tourist. There are a huge number of foreigners as well, some with large tour groups and others not. Most people also have gigantic cameras, many of whom probably also don't know how to even take it off of the auto setting.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

More bad news

I woke up this morning to another flat tire, on the rear wheel. Apparently I missed a thorn, which had worked it's way further into the tire after I changed it last night, so I changed my third flat tire in the morning.

After that it was relatively uneventful until I got to the Capitol Reef area. Then the wind started to really pick up a lot, and of course it was a headwind. I saw some cool petroglyphs on the way in, and then went most of the way down the scenic drive in the park, until I was going up a steep road into a strong headwind, and didn't think I would see much of anything different I kept going. The way back was much nicer with the downhill and the tailwind.

That was until I got back to the campground area, where my rear tire blew out completely. I pushed my bike into the camping area and started to change the tire again, when I realized that the actual tire had worn through, and not just a popped tube.

I sat there for a bit trying to figure out my options until the camp hosts stopped by. I asked them about the area, and they didn't think there was anything close but offered to call the rangers. A bit later a ranger stopped by and told me he was going to call a place in the nearby town, about ten miles away. He took the info about the tire and rim and then left. A while later he came back and told me the store did have a suitable tire but that they would close in ten minutes. He offered to drive me and my bike there, so I threw everything in the back of his truck and he drove me into town. We arrived around 4:05 and the store was supposed to close at 4:00. Fortunately the owner hadn't arrived yet to lock up, so I was able to buy the new tire. It's a bit wider than the one I had, and more of a mountain bike tread, but it fits just fine. For $27 I was able to get back on the road and didn't even have to hitch a ride or take any extra time to get things up and running again.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


I posted my last update from a picnic table in Hanksville UT where I was sitting with three other bikers who were headed east. I had already done fifty miles to get there and was planning on taking a break in the shade anyways so it worked out nicely. I know I made a post about how I hadn't had any flats yet, an it seems like I jinxed myself.

After taking care of everything in town I left, planning on spending several hours in the shade of a bridge by a river. I managed to get down to he water ok, and spent several hours relaxing in the shade. I realized that I had pushed my bike through some prickers to get there, since I was pulling them off of my socks, but didn't really think much of it. After I was done with my break I pushed my bike back u to the road, where I realized that both my tires were flat. Since I had been with my bike the entire time I knew it was punctures and not just someone letting the air out.

Replacing both tubes was interesting, since I was sitting on the side of the road with my bike completely in pieces. I started fixing one flat with a patch kit, when I decided to just use the two new inner tubes I had bought, and I would fix he flats later in camp. When I was part way through that I realized that the valves on the new tubes were different, being presta instead of schrader. I wasn't sure if my pump would work with these, but I knew some pumps were interchangeable. It took some work on the pump, and I had to take apart the pump head an reconfigure it, but eventually I got the two new tubes on, got the tires on the bike, and got them both inflated with air. Now I'm just hoping that the sharp points I felt on the inside of the tires were the only ones, and that I was able to fully remove the sharp bits. Otherwise I'll end up with more flats tomorrow morning.



Over the past 1000 miles my bike has been making more and more noise, mainly due to the chain. Each time I stop I mean to pick up some chain oil, but I have been forgetting each time. Yesterday when I was in Green River, UT, I met Ben, another long distance cyclist, in the town park. We talked for a while, and hung out a bit. Before I left I remembered to ask him if he had any oil I could use. Fortunately he did, so I applied a bit to each link in my chain before returning it.

Today as I was riding along I realized that my bike was making almost no noise, which was really strange. It was nice and calm, and there was very little traffic, so it seemed like I was just flying along. Now I really have to remember to pick up some chain oil next time I get a chance, since it is really nice to not listen to a chain rattle. I also think it runs smoother, since it seemed like it took a lot less effort to pedal today. That might have just been due to the lack of major hills all day, but it was still a nice change for once.

Friday, September 21, 2012

1000 Miles

I hit just over 1000 miles today as I passed through Green River, UT. That includes all of the highway mileage as well as any side trips, including grocery stores and all of the mileage in the National Parks. And exactly 1 month of biking so far. Hopefully I will be able to increase the mileage as I go along, aiming for roughly 50-80 miles a day, but right now I am probably hitting 40-50 or so, unless there are special circumstances, like the mileage in the National Parks where I have to get back outside the park to camp for the night.

And the best part, so far, no flat tires!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Canyonlands National Park

Today I got to the Canyonlands Visitor Center right in time for sunrise. The sun rose just over the La Sal mountain range, with an interesting tint due to the smoke in the air. The smoke is from a large fire north of here, it's not enough to smell like smoke, but it does obscure the views from farther off.

After the sunrise I went to the Mesa Arch, which is supposed to be a nice short hike to another arch. The really cool thing about Mesa Arch is that it stands on the very edge of a cliff, so looking through the arch you can see an awesome backdrop. It would have been a good spot for sunrise, but by the time I got there it was a bit later, so a lot of the features were a bit ghostly. This made for a few really cool photos too.

After that I went to a bunch of different overlooks, and a few side hikes to different points. Along with a bunch of views off the edge of cliffs I also visited one spot that was a large collapsed dome area. This area is supposed to be either an old salt dome that burst and eroded, or the site of a meteoroid hit that burst the area and the subsequently eroded away to blast junk.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Arches National Park

Today I spent the entire day touring Arches National Park. I had camped two or three miles from the entrance so I got there early in the day and was able to devote the entire day to the park.

There was a pretty good climb just to get up from the entrance, and then several other good climbs throughout the day as well. The main route was 36 miles round trip, plus I took a few side hikes as well as an extra five mile detour to see a few more things in the park.

The main attraction was obviously the scattered arches throughout the park, with the most impressive being the landscape arch, which is one of the longest and is very skinny. What was really cool was that a tourist had been on scene when part of it collapsed and had actually caught a photograph during the collapse, which is on display at the arch.

Towards the end of the day I was getting tired, and it started to seem that the landscape was more of the same. One arch seemed just like the next, and the hills seemed bigger on the way out. It was definitely even worse because I knew I had to get back to Moab for the night to pick up more food and water, so I had to do an extra 5 or 10 miles at the end of the day, since I hadn't stocked up for enough days when I went through town the day before.

Conclusion at the end of the day, lots of cool stuff to see, but too many hills.

Monday, September 17, 2012


On the way from Monticello to Moab my bike started making strange noises so once I got to Moab I wanted to have it checked out. I went to the first bike store I came to, which was Moab cyclery, and described the noise and what actions cause it. Basically every time my right pedal neared the top of it's rotation there was a creak that didn't use to happen.

After I described it to the mechanic he was able to tell right away that the bottom bracket was either loose or dirty. He proposed to take it apart, clean it and then re-oil everything. After about 25 minutes he had it back together and had me try it out. Fortunately that fixed the problem, so I am back in business, at the cost of $15. At some point in the near future I would like to re-oil the chain and everything, but it can hold off for a bit.

After my previous research I have also been looking for different gears for the bike to give me a better ratio, mainly for climbing all the hills. I checked every shop in Moab, but none if them had any smaller gears for a five bolt setup like I have in front. Ideally I would like to replace the 30t gear I have right now with a 24t gear. This would help out quite a bit, dropping the slowest gear down to an ideal 6 mph, instead of the 7.8 mph ratio I have now. I might also replace the rear cassette with something bigger, which would also help the situation. That change is a bit more involved, likely involving a change in rear derailler as well.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hello Utah!

After having spent the last several weeks in Colorado I finally came to the state border. The funny part was that I had completely forgotten that I was going to be crossing the border today.

There was a big bill board that from a distance I thought was just another advertisement. When I got closer I realized what it was, especially when I turned around and there was a similar sign for entering Colorado. There was a small little turnoff where I was able to stop and take a quick picture, and where a couple of motorcyclists pulled over for a break as well.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Proper gearing

I did a bit of research to find out more about proper shifting technique for long distance biking. It turns out that it is more efficient to rotate your feet at a higher rpm with lower gearing. The ideal rpm is roughly 80-85, which is much faster than most people would be pedaling.

I also counted my gearing on the front and back gears to see what that might translate into for mph.

On the front gear I have 3 gears, with 30, 42, and 52 teeth respectively.
On the rear gear I have 8 gears, with 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, and 25 teeth respectively.

Given the tire sizing, one complete tire rotation is roughly 86.35 inches traveled.

Putting this all together I can figure out the ideal mph for each gearing ratio, as follows:

52 teeth 42 teeth 30 teeth
12 teeth 28.34 22.89 16.35
13 teeth 16.16 21.26 15
15 teeth 22.7 18.31 13.08
17 teeth 20.01 16.16 11.51
19 teeth 17.9 14.45 10.33
21 teeth 16.22 13.08 9.35
23 teeth 14.78 11.97 8.5
25 teeth 13.6 10.99 7.85

This has a few interesting features. First, I should be pedaling a lot faster, instead of harder. Second, I had always assumed that the middle front gear was always a higher ratio than the smaller gear. It turns out that some of the ratios with the smaller gear in the front can actually be higher, so it is not always a low, medium, high gearing in terms of speed.

I can use this information with my bike computer to determine which gearing I should be using, in an ideal situation. I have previously just been going based on changing gears whenever it felt too easy or hard to pedal. I'll have to see how this actually goes though, but now I have some data to use.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mesa Verde National Park

I spent a day and a half touring the Mesa Verde National Park. The first half day I spent within the front portion of the park, where the focus is more on the natural environment, like a normal national park. There were several short (1+ mile) hiking trails that I explored, to get views of the surrounding peaks, mesas, and valleys. Then I left the park for the night, so I wouldn't have to spend $25 for a campsite in the national park.

The next day I got up early to spend the whole day going around the back side of the park. The closest interesting portion of the park is roughly 20 miles from the entrance, so I had a full day of pedaling, especially given how hilly the park is.

The first archeological site I went to was the Spruce Canyon Tree House, which is one of the cliff dwelling sites, right near a museum. This was one of the cliff dwellings that you could do a self guided tour for free, so I was able to go pretty much right to the dwellings, which were stone houses built into the side of the cliff, in hollowed out sections of the wall.

Then I did a 6 mile loop going through roughly 600 years of Pueblo history. This included several mesa top sites, such as pit houses and village sites on the flat portion of the mesa. The cooler stuff was the long distance views of several more cliff dwellings on the opposing cliff faces. Theses dwellings are several hundred feet from the top of the mesa, and are again carved into the side of the cliff face. Some of them held multiple buildings in a single alcove, so an entire village could survive on the side of the cliff. Then the villagers would climb to the top of the mesa with toe-holds on the cliff face, so they could farm along the top of the mesa.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


So far I have tried a website called warmshowers five times in different locations. Tonight will be my first successful host, in Dolores, CO. Every other host had something going on when I was passing through town.

I have so far had better luck with couchsurfing than warmshowers, but warmshowers is a site devoted to touring cyclists, so it is better suited to what I am using it for. As I go along I'll keep trying both websites and see which one works better over all.

Lizardhead cyclery

As I passes through Dolores CO I saw a sign for a new bike shop that had just opened. I didn't really need anything but I decided to stop by anyway. They didn't have a whole lot of inventory yet, but they did have a lot of scrap parts. Most of these parts get turned into artwork in some form, which looks kind of cool.

One thing I did realize that I needed was some type of spacer to rotate my rear rack back a bit. The way it has been the pockets sometimes get in the way of my heels, and the rack isn't level. They didn't have anything but the owner scrounged around for scrap metal and ended up cutting apart an old gear to make two extenders. His solution also looks pretty cool, somewhere between steampunk and punk rocker. He also only charged me for the metal he cut up, unlike most bike stores that charge an arm and a leg for labor. It probably helped that the metal wasn't useable, so he was able to get rid of scraps and help me out.


Monday, September 10, 2012


Last night I spent the night near Lizard Head Pass, just under 10,000ft. It was one of the coldest nights so far, and I woke to some frost on the ground. I guess it is getting colder, so I had better get moving.

Fortunately I'll be heading through the Utah desert soon, so at least the days will be warm, and I'll be at a lower elevation, so that is also not a problem.

Due to the lack of trees in the upcoming areas, I have also had my tent mailed out to me, since I normally use a hammock. This will also help with the warmth issue, since tents usually sleep 10 degrees warmer, while hammocks are usually 10 degrees colder. Shouldn't really be much of an issue, but I'll have to wait and see.

Friday, September 7, 2012

More equipment

I decided I needed to get front panniers for my bike. It has been a bit of a pain to tie my backpack on top of the rear panniers, so I have been checking in all of the bike shops along the way to see what they have in store. Pretty much all of the shops have been mountain biking shops, so they don't carry the front racks or panniers. I did finally hit one in Montrose that had a front rack for $40, so I got that just to have something. Then I am having more panniers shipped to Dolores, CO, so I will get a bit more room in a couple of days.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Today I took the first side trip to a National Park, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. I hit the park pretty early in the day after doing a particularly nasty climb up to it. I ended up buying an annual pass to all the national parks, since I am planning on hitting quite a few of them over the next year or so.

The park itself was a lot smaller than I was expecting. I was comparing it to Letchworth State Park, in NY, which is roughly 20 miles long along a gorge. The National Park was only 5 or 6 miles going in one direction, and the other direction was at 16% grade, so I didn't want to hit that. The overlooks were also pretty short, averaging about 200 yards from the road to the overlook.

However, the really cool thing about the canyon was the extreme depth and steepness of the canyon. The Gunnison River drops quite a lot of elevation in a very short time, so the water is very fast moving, cutting away at the banks. Pretty much all of the overlooks would caused problems for anyone with a fear of heights, since they drop off more than a thousand feet.

I also got to see the Painted Wall, the largest cliff face in Colorado. Apparently rock climbers sometimes spend several days doing a single ascent. One particular route was Hallucinogen Route, which was climbed in the early 80's by the son of the owners of a store in Cimarron, CO. He spent 8 days on the face of the cliff working out the route, and named it for the fact that you would have to be hallucinating to see a way up the rock.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bike Computer

I got a bicycle computer a little ways back, and here are a few stats
Top speed: 39.5 mph (downhill)
Avg speed: 10.4 mph

uphill in lowest gear 4.5-6 mph
avg flat speed: 13 mph

Just Starting Out

I met another cyclist who also just started. We were pedaling down side streets in Gunnison in opposite directions when we both waved and pulled over to the side to talk to each other. It turns out that Chase started in Boulder, CO, several days after I did, so we have been doing about the same average per day.  He tends to do more miles per day, but then takes a lot of time off, so it all averages about the same.

Chase's big problem was that he sleeps in a hammock, same as I do, but he doesn't have a pad underneath him, so it can get pretty cold. He had suffered through the last week or so, but was looking around in town for some type of camping store to get better equipment.

He had recently quit his job and sold everything to take off by bike, but at least he had a lot of previous biking experience. His biggest day was 60 miles so far, but I am working my way up to that kind of mileage. I am in no real rush, so I can take as much time as I want. Chase doesn't have any deadlines either, since he quite his job, but he still wants to get out west as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Second meeting

I met another long distance cycler today, again at the top of a pass. This time we were headed in opposite directions when I met Wayne. He had pulled off at the small store at the top of the pass, marking the Continental Divide. Wayne had started on the west coast, and was headed for NY. He had gone to school at RPI, and was headed back in that direction before embarking on a multi-year backpacking stint in some third world country.

Wayne had several horror stories about the upcoming desert for me. He broke 4 spokes (I had already gotten 6 extras) as well as worn off two pairs of tires due to the heat of the desert. He mentioned it getting up to 107 degrees, which didn't seem that bad, but apparently most tires aren't made to withstand that type of heat. Fortunately he met three other bikers, who were with a SAG van, so they had extras they donated to his cause. He also mentioned several 80+ mile stretches along Utah, where he went through 8+ liters of water between stops. Sounds like I will have to get extra tires as well as more water bottles (I currently have 4 liter capacity). Good to know

Sunday, September 2, 2012


While sitting outside the library in Buena Vista CO (it was closed for Sunday) a hiker walked up. He definitely looked like a thru-hiker so I asked him about it. It turns out that he is hiking the Colorado Trail and had stopped in to town for some food and a concert down in Salida. We talked a bit about long distance hiking and biking, since he had also done a short bike tour in California. He hasn't put up a trailjournal yet, but is planning on it, and his trailname is Gentle Bear.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


While I was biking along a side road near Silver Plume, CO I noticed that the same several cars kept going back and forth along the street. After the fourth or fifth time one of them passed me I asked what they were doing. Apparently they had driven all the way from Detroit, MI where they worked for GM. The whole point of the trip was to test the cars at higher elevation (9000+ ft) to see if the onboard computers were able to correctly deal with the change in altitude, especially for burn rates, etc, given the decrease in available oxygen.

The driver also told me that Jaguar rented several large outdoor refrigerated boxes nearby, so they could do cold-start tests. Basically they leave the cars in the box until they freeze, and then start them up and retest everything about the car. This makes sure that the car will function normally in cold weather, without having to actually wait for cold weather to do the testing.

Friday, August 31, 2012

First meeting

I met my first long distance biker yesterday. We met near Climax, CO, at the top of a pass around 11,300 ft. I was taking a break and eating lunch when he came rolling up. Its pretty obvious who is touring and who is just out for the day, given all the gear bags on the bike and the type of clothing. It turns out that Sam had left New Hampshire about 6 weeks ago, and he is also headed west. He was in a bit of a hurry though, since he was trying to spend the night with a friend in Aspen, so he still had quite a few miles left to go. Its just nice to meet other people on similar trips, even if you can only talk to them for five or ten minutes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First Week of Biking

I've been on my trip for about a week now. I ended up getting into the bus station in Ft. Collins around 2:30am, and walked about 4 miles towards an REI, where I was planning on buying a Surly Long Haul Trucker. While I was waiting for REI to open I found a bike store just behind the REI, where I stopped in to see what they had. Andy, one of the guys at Re-cycle Cycle, convinced me into getting a Raleigh Road Three Hundred. It isn't quite as nice as the Long Haul Trucker, but it was roughly $800 cheaper, and will still work for me. I spent roughly $450 on the bike, plus another $400 on accessories, including a bike rack and panniers, before heading out.

I spent the first day riding around town getting used to the bike and making sure everything worked, then headed out the next day towards Estes Park. The entire way was uphill, heading into the Rockies from the plains, and it was quite a long ride. The views along the way were worth it though, and when I get a chance I'll be uploading a lot of pictures, most of which are already geotagged.

The next couple of days included a lot of hills, and I'm definitely not used to biking yet. There have been a couple of nice small mountain villages, and most of the drivers along the way have been decent. The only real problem I have had along the way was in Black Hawk, CO where there is a bike ban. They apparently are more than happy to ticket riders, even though the federal law states that places can't ban bikes without providing a nearby alternative route, which they don't have. That case is currently being debated in court, so we'll see how things turn out.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

End of Summer

I haven't had a chance to post much since I have been in the woods for the entire summer, but my job at Philmont is officially over. Dan Beard was much busier than it has been in previous years. We had more than 400 crews come through, so roughly 4000 scouts came through Dan Beard this year. That's a lot of people.

For the fall I am planning on starting a cross country bike trip. I am planning on trying to hit up a lot of National Parks and National Forests along the way, trying to explore a lot of the country while traveling by bike. Right now I have a greyhound ticket up to Ft. Collins, CO where I will buy a bike and take off for quite a while.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

First set of days

I just finished my first set of days off, after having Scattered on June 5th and working until June 17th. Scatter went fairly well, with my camp being the first to leave Philmont base camp for the backcountry. We got all of our important supplies for the first week or so, so we were able to clean out the cabin. The main threat is haunta virus, but after bleaching and sweeping everything in the cabin we were good to go.

The first few days in the backcountry were mainly training days, going over program activities with my staff and making sure they were comfortable with Philmont procedures. Especially interesting is the fact that my final staffer is from Zambia, Africa, as an international scouter. He missed the whole week of training in base camp, so I have spent a while getting him up to speed with the program activities.

The first crew through Dan Beard for the summer was from Mississippi. I had actually met this crew while hiking on the Pinhoti Trail in Alabama several months ago, and we recognized each other, which was pretty cool. Even more exciting was the fact that one of their adult advisers was my boss's boss back in 2006. Cliff was the head of the conservation office during my first summer at Philmont, while I was on a conservation work crew.

Right before I left camp we were getting 8-9 crews per day, so each staffer is running 2 crews through program each day on average. The main program we have is a Challenge course, which is similar to a COPE course, but more focused on teambuilding and communication, rather than problem solving and out of the box thinking. It can be fun and rewarding to see the scouts working on the events together, especially if they improves over the course of the 2 hour program. It is designed to address crew dynamics and any specific problems the crew might be having together, so it can really help to improve their overall trek.

On my days off I visited Dean Cow, a rock climbing camp, for the first night. We played volleyball against the campers and advisers, and of course the staff won. The next day I took care of laundry and shower in base camp, and then headed back out to Urraca, where I worked last year. It was nice to see the camp again, especially some of my personal projects that I worked on the past summer. My last day I spent visiting Ute Gulch, Sawmill, and Cyphers Mine with a commissary driver before heading back to base to get ready to head back to Dan Beard.

Monday, June 4, 2012


PC training week is over, and its off to the backcountry tomorrow. I got my last PC in today, on our day off in Taos, so he still has a lot of training to take care of. He is actually an international scouter from Zambia, Africa, so that will be an interesting twist on the summer. My other staff are from PA, OK, TX and MN, so we have a scattering of locations. Only one of the staff is a returning PC, all the others are first years, so I am mostly on my own. So far it seems like a good group, and we have had fun during the training week.

Monday, May 21, 2012

WFR Finished

I just finished the 8 day WFR course, so I am officially certified. In addition to all the classroom lectures we did a total of four simulations.

The third simulation was by far the worst because it included basically an overwhelming rush of patients in a very limited setting, with only 6 care providers. Fortunately I was designated as an assistant, and we were told to act as if we had no medical knowledge. The assistants were mainly just babysitting patients and doing patient carries in a Stokes Basket when needed. It was actually a bit hard to sit with a patient and have to pretend to not know how to help them.

The fourth simulation wasn't as bad, because we had roughly 45 care providers, probably more than the number of patients. The main thing about this simulation was just that it was supposed to be unexpected. They had initially set it up similar to the other simulations, with designated primaries, assistants, and patients. When we got to the side they tried to surprise us by telling us that the patients were already on scene, and we were all primaries (care providers). It wasn't that bad, considering that the change made it a lot easier. Since we hadn't really been told much about the scene we didn't have the opportunity to plan around it. The 'surprise' didn't really change much, so we were able to just roll with it.

This coming week is CD (Camp Director) training week, so I have another week of straight training to look forward to.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

WFR training

I arrive at Philmont on Saturday morning after a 2 day bus ride, and just hung out all Saturday.

Sunday morning started WFR training (Wilderness First Responder) which is basically learning how to treat all sorts of injuries in the backcountry, where medical help is quite a ways away, either in time or distance. I figured this would be pretty useful for me, either for any type of future outdoor job, or just for personal use, since I'm almost constantly in the woods somewhere.

The classroom lectures go over all the medical conditions and proper treatment of almost any type of injury you might find in the woods. We've covered trauma all over the body and all types of environmental events, such as hypothermia or snakebite. The classes can get pretty long, but they cover all the information pretty well, especially different scenarios we might encounter an injury in.

The more exciting aspect of the course is the hands on scenarios and simulations. We started with basic patient examinations, to determine vital signs and obvious injuries. This course is nice because we actually get into makeup and do a more realistic simulation, rather than just trying to fake a broken leg. Our first major simulation was a car crash caused by a seizure in the driver. We had a total of 13 patients with a variety of injuries all happening at the same time. One particular patient was on a bike and had been run over by the car. He had broken both femurs and had brains spread out across the pavement (obviously dead). The instructors had bought sheep brain and threw it on the road, and dumped several gallons of fake blood under the patient (people only have 5-6 quarts of blood). It actually looked really realistic to have someone laying in a large pool of blood, with bones sticking out of their legs.

Tomorrow is another major simulation, in which I will get to be a patient. I will be told what my injuries are, and the instructor will add makeup, broken bones, and fake blood, depending on what the simulation is. Its actually really fun to act like you are injured, especially if you are supposed to be antagonistic towards the rescuers. This can be pretty realistic of patients in a traumatic event, often in ASR (shock).

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Packing up

I'm almost finished packing up for my next trip. The past few years I have been perpetually packing or unpacking. I am going to be spending the summer working at Philmont, a boyscout backpacking camp in northeast New Mexico. I will be responsible for running a camp with five other staffers, and will be teaching teamwork skills and LNT camping to all the crews of scouts that come through the camp. Another fun summer.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pinhoti Trail Journal

I just (finally) finished transcribing my trailjournal from the Pinhoti trip, and copied everything over to my blog. Read it here.

Roughly 335 miles in 18 days. I had been using a voice recorder every night, and it just took a while to find time and motivation to type everything up. With an upcoming trip I finally pushed to get everything written down so I could move on to other things. Enjoy!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Lightning storm

There was a lightning storm last night, and I took the opportunity to try to get some good pictures. Most of them didn't turn out, and it seemed like a lot of the good strikes were when my camera was processing the previous picture. I still did manage to get a few relatively good ones. These were all straight out of my bedroom window, with long exposure, but no tripod.

IMG_0454 IMG_0446 IMG_0439 IMG_0435 IMG_0424 IMG_0416 IMG_0390 IMG_0367 IMG_0358 IMG_0352 IMG_0336 IMG_0334 IMG_0278 IMG_0272

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Past

In addition to my future travels, I am also going to write about past travels I have taken. I don't intend to do a play-by-play of them, but I will post highlights whenever I get a chance.

Quick summary of previous trips:
Appalachian Trail thru hike
Florida Trail thru hike (twice)
Alabama Pinhoti Trail thru hike
Georgia Pinhoti Trail thru hike
Alabama trail roadwalk
Mississippi Canoe (headwaters to gulf)
Staff at Philmont Boy Scout Ranch (06,07,11,12)

I have recorded some of these trips on trailjournals, in a day-by-day format:

Also, I tend to take a lot of pictures, which I have recently been adding to flickr. I think these tell a much better story than words:

New Camera

In 2011 while hiking on the Florida Trail my camera broke. I was using a Canon A480, which I had also used on my Appalachian Trail hike.

I was hiking in Ocala National Forest, and wanted to take a picture of a pond and sunset. When I was pulling the camera out of the case, I hit the on button, and the lens tried to open while in the case, which broke something. The camera was still usable, as long as I pushed the lens in by hand each time. I've been using it for the past year like this, but on the recent hike of the Florida Trail, a bunch of sand got in the lens, causing dark spots on the pictures. I finally decided to upgrade.

My new camera is the just released Canon SX260HS. I have been eyeballing the SX230HS for a while now, and this is just an even better version. The main useful features are the built in GPS, 20x optical zoom, and 12 megapixels. No really exciting pictures yet, but I've been trying the camera out around the house, and I'm definitely liking it. The GPS is going to be really useful for documenting future trips.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

By popular request

Hi everyone,
Throughout my travels people often have asked me if I have a blog where they could read more about my travels. I finally decided to give in. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pinhoti Trail Conclusions

The Georgia Pinhoti has a lot of roadwalk. If I did it again I would probably use a mountain bike, since the whole Georgia side is open to bikes.

The entire trail isn't used very much, except for portions around Cheaha. I might have been off-season, but there weren't even many locals out.

In general the trail tread was well maintained, even with a seeming lack of hikers, so props to the maintainers.

Nice trail angels, I think I like the spontaneity and unexpectedness of it on smaller trails, compared to the AT where it is almost overdone (not that I'm complaining about free food)

No brilliant thoughts, just one more leg of the ECT completed. Also be sure to check out all my pictures from the trip

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pinhoti Trail Day 20

I got a nice early start today, due to traffic on the road. The rest of the trail was just roadwalk to get to Flagg Mountain. On the way I had two different people tell me I was going the wrong way. Apparently all the locals are used to people only going nobo, and they thought I had gotten turned around.

The terminus was pretty confusing, no real sign saying the trail ended. The trail right now goes up Flagg Mountain on a road, then turns off of the road onto another trail and ends there, with the blazing switching over to yellow blazes. There is a kiosk, but it doesn't say "End of Pinhoti" or anything like that. Anyway, I followed that yellow trail for a ways, then schwacked up the mountain, found some old abandoned cabins, and cut across to the Flagg Mountain Fire Tower and decided that was good enough.

I ended up taking the road back down Flagg Mountain to get to a road with some traffic, hoping to hitch a ride out to civilization. I had just made up a destination sign, when a guy in a pickup pulled over and told me that I was faster than they had thought. I was quite confused, having no clue who this was, or why they thought I would be slower. He identified me and said that I had talked to someone a few days ago about getting a ride out. I had no clue who he was talking about, and I didn't recognize the name he gave, but hey, if he's offering me a ride out I'll take it. He ended up giving me a ride over Flagg Mountain, and pointed out several details about new trail being built in the area.

On the way back to his house I finally realized that the hiker 'BCM' that I had met a few days earlier in Cheaha had arranged to have me picked up. He had recruited Kent to help me out by taking me back to his house and letting me clean up. Kent is active in the local trail maintaining groups, and a wonderful trail angel. Also, it turns out that I had spent last night about a quarter mile from his house. Instead of sleeping by the bridge in Stewartville, I could have walked over and spent the night at his house.

Once I was cleaned and very well fed, BCM drove over after he got out of work in Birmingham to pick me up. He offered to take me to a bus station, either Oxford (closer), or Birmingham (more convenient for him). He ended up taking me to the Birmingham greyhound, and the end of my Pinhoti trip. He made probably a 2 hour round trip to help me out, all because I mentioned in passing to him on the trail that I was planning on hitching a ride after I was done. Definite major trail angel work right there.

360.7 miles down