Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Its not over 'til its over: lasting lines.

The promised Tan Line Portfolio.

I find that blogging about a bike trip comes much easier when I am actually on the bike trip. Not only was this a little “more than a bike trip,” but I believe it is always healthy to reflect.

Not only was I (and everyone who supported me) part of an event that successfully raised awareness, action, and funds for poverty related issues, but also the lives of everyone involved will be and have been changed. (We can pray that it is long-lasting and positive). Last I heard, we had already surpassed our goal of $1.5 million and were at $1.85 million.

These days I get strange waves of emotion (jealousy, sadness, camaraderie) whenever I see touring bicyclists on the highway. Exercise less than 4 hours in duration seems like nothing. An hour for a bike ride is barely worth putting on my chamois. I judge roads in terms of their “bikeability.” Busy roads don’t faze me. (Nothing can be worse than I-80). I miss waking up outside.

Most of these habits and standards will fade in the coming months, but I hope (and fully expect) that my habit of using trusty “Rosie” as a major form of transportation will continue--as I hope that the 221 bicycles used on the tour continue to get heavy use in daily life. And I hope that this trend spreads (as it has been already, we can’t really claim the idea) outside the Sea to Sea Bike Tour 2008.

And what am I doing now? As the rest of the tour faithfully pedaled east out of Denver, I spent some time with my great “Rooney” friends in Denver. Then I was able to meet up with my family for a few days of hiking in Ouray, CO. When we parted ways, I explored around Crested Butte and the Maroon Bells Wilderness on my own…in the rain. I was abruptly reminded the difference between tenting in a tent city of friends and backpacking alone in bear country. And now I am residing in Salt Lake City, Utah, where I am looking for housing and waiting for classes to begin. I will be working on an M.S. degree in nutrition. Its funny (but probably not surprising) how hundreds of miles on the road can shake one’s perfectly laid out plans. So far I have executed mine as planned, but not without much thought and wrestling. And I haven’t actually made it to class yet! The fact that 3 of my friends who planned on leaving the tour in Denver, are back on the road might tell you something.

I can’t thank you enough for your support. We are part of something great.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Denver Part

The Van Dyks (I'm not sure I spelled that correctly)
The ultimate Dutch bingo
The top of Berthoud Pass with Brian.

The tail end of Rabbit Ears descent.

"Sea to Denver with Laura" has arrived in Denver. What a swirl of emotion. Many people have suggested it being bittersweet, but at the moment, it is all bitter, I have to admit. As we rolled into Denver Christian on Saturday, those poor cheerleaders must have been confused to why I was in tears. Maybe they didn't notice, there was so much going on--music (a mix including Garth Brooks and Black Eyed Peas), goodie bags, cheerleaders, haircuts, mail, and lots of family and friend visitors.
The ride on Saturday was in my top 2 ever. We left Snow Mountain Ranch in longsleeve, full-finger glove, and legging weather and soon started the climb up Berthoud Pass, which was one of the most picturesque and least physically demanding climbs. Or maybe we are just in excellent shape now. I had my 6th flat tire on the way up. I squeezed my 7th flat in on the way home from church on Sunday, just hours before my departure.
The way down was filled with hoops and hollers as Hans, Matt, Sarah, Brian, and I all hit our record speeds (at least I'm pretty sure of this fact). Mine was 50.2mph. How can you not yell about that? We were passing cars.
We rode through several cutesy towns, the Red Rocks Amphitheater, and many courtesy refreshment stops supplied by friends and churches.
I met several supporters on the route who enthusiastically waved the "Shifting Gears" devotional or a Sea to Sea bracelet saying, "I've been following you guys! See my bracelet?" A random family reunion crowd described themselves as only "flatland riders" and promised to donate online. I realized that I was a flatlander not long ago--before I fell in love with mountain passes. About a year ago, I remember driving up Berthoud Pass and seeing 2 bicyclists riding up. I thought, "Why would anyone ever want to do that?" Its funny how things change.
As sad as leaving the tour is for me, which was planned, we have to remember Tyler and Arnie, who were forced to leave unexpectedly. Arnie had surgery on his ruptured achilles last Friday, and Tyler broke his collar bone in a crash on Saturday. He is on his way home. Please keep them in your prayers.

No comment.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Rabbit Ears Pass...Continental Divide!
Plenty of time to take pictures at 6.7 mph.
Lesson learned: Don't forget to take our biking gloves before you put your laundry in the dryer.
Thank you Cory, keeper of the portable outhouse.

Words of yesterday:

96 miles into Kremmling, Colorado today. For me, today was by far the best day yet in all respects. It all started with a giant bowl of cereal, as usual, but today I mixed 4 kinds instead of my standard 3. And someone had moved my bike out of range of the sprinkler last night—very thoughtful. And I smuggled my ipod to listen to as I crawled up 4000 feet of Rabbit Ears Pass. Our terrain was green, opposed to the usual sagebrush. We passed aspens, rivers, and lots of mountains. We passed “chimney rock,” which did not look like a chimney at all. I drank two cups of “Muddy Lake Pass” coffee in Steamboat Springs. My legs felt as strong today as they felt dead yesterday—much like a motor. I had a great mix of solo riding and group riding. I had great company on the ride. The pine trees were very aromatic. Julie added tortilla chips to her water stop refreshments at the false summit (they really hit the spot on hot days). Aaron Carpenter’s parents had popsicles waiting at the top of the pass. We had lots of smooth road to ride. Wildflowers abounded at every bathroom stop (“Girls don’t go in the wild..” is an untrue statement I heard today). Key Largo, Montigo, baby why don’t we go down to Kokimo?” was in our singing repertoire as well as U2’s “Beautiful Day.” Real, snowcapped mountains are in view as I write. The high school we are staying at has a mustang painted on the center floor of the gym with purple and gray swirls in the background—very mystical. It rained. Our tents are on “shag carpet grass.” My choice of raspberry sherbet on cookies and cream ice cream was the best I made all day.

“I love right now.”

Today we had an easy 35 miles to Snow Mountain Ranch. None other than Nancy Meyer, my Calvin XC coach met me on the roadside today. That was a nice surprise. I caught my first glimpse of the Tour de France in a coffee shop. I have a new appreciation for the sport these days.

Audrey, a young woman from Quebec has been riding with us the last 2 days. She is touring the country, carrying much more gear than we are.

This is a quickie because I must make the most of my little time left with these wonderful people.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

In the land of the Dinosaurs and lacking emission standards

Perfecting the over-the-shoulder shot
Bittersweet to be in my last state
A very candid high five with Nick in front of the summit elevation sign w

We are in “Colorful Colorado,” land of Dinosaur. Yesterday we enjoyed 90 miles of changing landscapes starting in a nice green canyon, climbing up an 8% grade into mountain meadows and beetle-ridden forests (reminding me a lot of field work last summer), and then descending into the generic Utah red rocks dotted with sagebrush.

Today was a tough day of 92 miles--the theme of the week. From this ride’s experience, this section of Utah is not a bicycle-friendly place. We rode on highway 40 all day, which had a rumble strip perfectly centered on the shoulder, leaving about 8 inches on either side to navigate. I can say we did not fall asleep. We had the choice of battling traffic on the one side or debris on the other. And the traffic was not friendly. There was a large ratio of pick up trucks on the road and a large ratio of these trucks emitted hideous black exhaust as they honked, yelled, and revved their engines as they passed.

On the upside, our route was scattered with weathered, off-colored dinosaur statues of various sizes. The best was the town of Vernal’s famous pink dinosaur with long eye lashes.

The last 10k (I must be surrounded by Canadians), I was the closest I have ever been to bonking on a bike. I’m blaming my exhaustion for allowing myself to spend $4.80 on a frozen coffee drink as soon as I got to town.

I am falling in love with early morning cycling. If only I could learn to go to bed on time.

We’re losing so much salt, my sweet tooth is pretty much gone these days—by the end of the day, I’m covered in salt, and the best treat is dutch licorice (thank you Krabbe’s and Walter), jerky, or salted nuts.

Its bittersweet to be in my last state of the tour. I didn't realize it would be such a big deal to leave early. What a great community I will be leaving.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

We're in the mountains now

A view from our pavilion of our tents.

I made history with my first century ride yesterday thanks to a “short cut” and a mini-tour of the University of Utah. The ride was amazing. The mental energy that went into that ride was powerful. Camp the evening before and morning of was so tense! I’m glad I left at 6am just to break free from the looming cloud of intensity. Another plus was getting in 60 miles before the heat. It was great to ride with Hans yesterday—we are (seemingly) miraculously similar in our riding pace, which is something I am always thankful for.

Local churches provided 2 rest stops on the way, with the best service so far—girls were eagerly serving me special-order drinks and energy bars from my chair. It was great to start making some connections in my new home of Salt Lake City as well. I already have hopes of a rock climbing buddy.

Our first pass up Emmigrant Canyon was beautifully winding, our second was tediously straight up a highway. But it does feel good to pass overheating trucks on a bicycle. Momentarily, I struggled with the moral dilemma of stopping to help with my limited resources, but realized any one in need had plenty of time to ask while I inched past at 7.3 mph.

The two most emotional times of the day were arriving into camp and realizing we were staying in a “walk-in” campsite requiring a ½ mile walk to our tent sites. There were far more tears shed over the camping situation than over the biking.

And a storm is here....we’re in the mountains.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A brilliantly designed shower.
The bustling downtown of Snowville.
Horizontal pace line?
The tandem: Rita and Bill Wybenga.
A touching moment.

We continue on.
We pedaled 86 miles yesterday to the smallest town of the tour—Snowville, Utah. Today we passed through Brigham City and are camped at a State Park on a warm, murky fresh water lake adjacent to the Great Salt Lake. Swimming is good, tent sites are lumpy. We swam to an island that was farther away than it looked (as always). On the other side of our camp is the beginning of the Wasatch Mountain range—foreshadowing tomorrow’s climb.

Yesterday in a café, some of us heard the story of a farmer, who considers himself impoverished because of increasing gas prices and decreasing potato prices. I doubt our listening ears were enough to satisfy him.

Yesterday we also were able to enjoy a homemade tarp shower--quite the bonding experience. Ingredients: tarp, webbing, softball backstop, and a hose.

Beautiful full moon last night.

Also, yesterday was a difficult day for morale. It was a hot and long day with a steady headwind and no scenery except for farms and sagebrush. There were several grueling uphill climbs that looked so innocently gradual. I kept checking to make sure my brakes weren’t rubbing or my tires weren’t flat--how could I be crawling so slowly? The outhouse fell off the van and landed in the middle of the highway, and the kitchen truck door opened on the road.

Also, there were a few injuries, including Arnie, who partially tore his achilles tendon. Please pray for him as he goes home soon to see if he needs surgery.

Thankfully, today’s ride was very smooth as far as I know—through farms, salty “marshes,” and lots of roadside fruit stands. No “R-rated” movies in the theaters.

Pray for us tomorrow—95 miles ending with a climb into the mountains. It will be a long day for everyone.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Taste of Camp



ziplocs and purel, very common things

So a couple of days ago I was telling someone who I had rode with that day. They replied, "Oh, so you are a part of Team Sweet now?" Little did I know that there was such thing as Team Sweet and that I was "intruding." Fortunately, Team Sweet is very inclusive and malleable. I rode with a core of them again today, and had to rename the team for about 20 miles to Team Squeak due to my pesky derailleur (sp?).
Today was long. We made it into a 90 mile day with a waterfall detour.
Highlights: base jumper sighting, dairy tour, Twin Falls RCA lunch, crop duster, and a Moose Drool.