"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Monday, November 6, 2006

11/6/06: Bike Tour- An Inevitable End

There are elements of these last two posts that echo and resonate loudly years later. Some things are seared into your consciousness. This period was huge. - tx 12/23/09

*Posted to Crazy Guy on a Bike*

15 miles (24 km) - Total so far: 97 miles (156 km)
My leg of the trip is over.

It's taken me a week to figure out what to do with this journal. It occurred to me that I could delete it, or simply let it fade into the abyss of cyberspace, but I've also noticed that there are very, very few, if any, journals completed after one has 'failed'. Plus, it's a good example to set for others: perfection is NOT required for membership. In the interest of honesty, and hopefully as some sort of a humble service to others who may be contemplating such a trip, I decided that brutal, humble- honesty is the noblest of paths.

So, here's a dose of humility: I never had a prayer!

The first day of the trip was fine, as you may have read. However the next day was a different story on several levels. First: significant 'disconnect'. I began to sense that the trip had morphed into something it wasn't intended to be. Getting lost in the 'how' rather than the 'why'. Over a few months, I had gotten lost on that level to a degree I wasn't even aware of. I wasn't happy with the route, destination, the pace from having another rider, and even the mundane particulars of this particular tour. Something was just wrong! I would have been fine and kept going; adapted and adjusted. However, one we reached Franktown, and turned east on Hwy. 86 there came the hills...

I expected hills. I had lightened my load significantly, and while I knew they'd be difficult, I had SEVERELY overestimated my physical conditioning. The 9 miles between Franktown and Elizabeth felt like it was killing me. Ever since we'd left, I had a consistent pain in my upper back that I had never felt before. Also, an aching left shoulder, numbness in my left hand, headaches, and even an instance of slightly slurred speech. Like a fool, I didn't pay attention to them and simply attributed it to the bike; getting adjusted. I expected it to be hard. More on that in a bit....

We got to Elizabeth, and pulled into a Safeway so Bruno could dry his sleeping bag, and so I could charge my cell phone and video camera Bruno had attached to his handlebar. I went inside, wrote in my journal for a bit, and when we got ready to leave the 'disconnect' was chaffing me to the point where I had to talk it out with Bruno.

We sat there for 3 hours.

The most significant problem, in consideration of this venue, was the fact that this wasn't 'our' trip. It was never intended to be. We had decided independently to do this before we knew each other existed! I decided to try to find someone to come along, and that's how we wound up together. I had said from the beginning that if it wasn't working out for either of us, rather due to pace, personal- preference conflicts, whatever, that we should be willing to shake hands and go our separate ways. It was pretty obvious that my pace was annoying him, and worrying about that was killing mine! There was NO way I could keep his pace. Not even close. Couple that with the physical issues I was feeling and some circumstances at home, the desire needed to take this trip died right there.

I obviously felt guilty. Bruno bussed to Denver to take this leg of the trip with me, and I was quitting after a day and a half! To his credit, he was very understanding and actually supportive. No one was mad, yelling, or arguing. As a matter of fact, a few days later he pointed out that if he hadn't come here, he probably would have ended up back in Montreal, rather than on his way to Mexico. So, in some backwards way, I suppose it was a benefit to him. I obviously found a great partner! We chatted some more than finally decided to find a place to camp for the night, and I made arrangements to have my GF pick me up. Luckily, there's a park/ campground right on the east end of Elizabeth, so we stopped, ate, chatted and I waited for my ride.

The next day, I told my mother what had happened with the pain, headaches, slurred speech, and she scared the shit out of me! Both she and my father have a history of heart disease. She was afraid that the signs I had were either acute 'warning signs', or worse. It had never dawned on me... yes I'm ignorant... that all the pain I felt on that bike was on the left side of my body. She was able, as a former nurse, to point out several things that I hadn't been aware of.

I was on the brink of going to the doctor, but without Bruno's luxury of Socialized Medicine, I've decided to try to handle things myself first. Yes... I'm quitting the cigs. After 20 years, they'll finally be given up, after much struggle I'm sure. I've managed to cut them by about 2/3 with no help, and relatively easily. Fear will do that! I've also joined a gym and have been going everyday with a serious focus on cardio. After 10 minutes Sunday, the guilt of leaving Bruno in Elizabeth left me. I REALLY had NO prayer in hell, or anywhere else, and God knows what might have happened if I had continued on and ignored it. Maybe nothing? Sure. But I'm glad I didn't roll that dice.

Of course there's disappointment. I'd been planning for six- months, and invested alot of time, effort and money. However, one thing that occurred to me has stuck, and taken root. It seems that sometimes the process of achieving something is more important than the thing itself. I enjoyed the summer that was filled with the anticipation and even anxiety. The two weeks Bruno was here were great, and thanks to something I read about 'only preparing for your first trip once', I paid attention to it all and enjoyed it. Goals are great if you want to buy a car, house, climb the vocational ladder. I'm not one for equating my status in life with how many 'goals' I can reach. All too often, goals are imposed anyhow. Check out "Grand Illusion" by Styx sometime...

It reminded me of that old adage: "Life's a journey, not a destination." Cliche' I know, but isn't it truth?

While I was planning the trip this summer: Life happened. While Bruno and I were here pontificating: Life happened.

I wouldn't trade any of it. Now, you know what I get to do? Experience what it's like to quit smoking! Experience going from piss- poor to excellent cardio health, and all that comes with it. Sounds a bit extreme, doesn't it? Like Pollyanna on Meth perhaps, but true. Part of the tapestry of life.

My primary goal with this trip has been achieved too. Vitam Impendere Vero: Know yourself. I've learned too many things to count. There is a difference between knowing and improving. To improve, you have to identify, REALLY identify it, then attack it. So, the next mini-phase of my life has been presented to me: try not to have a heart attack!

So there it is, in all it's naked honesty. I didn't make it to Mexico, or even Oklahoma. It's taken a week to put it together, decompress, and re-evaluate, but I don't consider it a failure. I'm better, and wiser for it. Is there really anything else to ask for?

One final word on Bruno. He's doing just fine, of course. He's almost to Lubbock, Texas now and is finding our Texan comrades very agreeable! I'll post a few of his updates on here, so if you're interested to see how things turn out, feel free to check back.

He's about half my age, but he's one of the rare young people, in my experience, that actually teach you something other than quoting textbooks. I admire his courage, honesty, and wisdom. Wisdom's a hard thing to come by at a young age! Oh, and I'll pray for you!!

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

11/1/06: Bike Tour Ends-Repairing Cracked Foundations


November 1, 2006

I've been dreading, or better put: avoiding this. The bike trip failed. Miserably.

By the time Bruno and I got to Parker Road on Sunday, I was beginning to get frustrated. Parker Road had very little shoulder and heavy traffic; frightening for someone inexperienced like me. That was the beginning of the end. We got to Franktown, and Bruno's frustration with my pace became apparent. He asked if we could go faster than 8 mph. I understood the concern, but that was the last straw. I became defensive, self-conscious and ill-prepared for what lie ahead. I'm not going to blame Bruno for this -- the seed was planted on the ride down Parker Road. I really didn't like that! Immediately after leaving Franktown on Highway 86; Hills. Big , long climbs. They nearly killed me. If it wasn't my legs, it was my breath. I could only climb at between three and 5 mph. I didn't stop much, only two to three times, but the hills kept coming. It was here that I finally asked, "What the hell am I doing?" and began to think about home. I wasn't enjoying myself. I felt inadequate in comparison to Bruno. Bad things. We finally got to Elizabeth, elevation 6600 feet, 9-miles later, and stopped at the Safeway. We needed to charge the video camera and the cell phone, plus Bruno wanted to sun-dry his sleeping bag. I went into Starbucks, wrote in my journal, and came back 30 to 45 minutes later. All the time since Franktown, I had been stewing: coming up with scenarios and reasons to quit. My entire body was hating that bike.

All day, I had pain in my left shoulder, my upper back, and my left hand had always been the one to go numb, although I don't remember that being a problem. I tried to remember "the hard is what makes it great" etc., the stuff that had gotten me thru all summer. Nothing. I felt nothing but frustration, anger, and pain up those hills. I could summon nothing; none of the mental resources I thought I'd stowed away somewhere. I felt myself failing and could do nothing about it. Once at Safeway -- after everything was said and done, Bruno and I began chatting. I needed to verbalize my frustrations and doubts. Not only was this my trip, but his as well. I felt like I was holding him back while at the same time feeling that he was rushing me. I knew it was ending and was trying to find the softest edge with which to kill it.

I made arrangements for Laina to call when she got done at work, and Bruno and I continued up the road in search of a campsite. There, again, fate stepped in, much like finding the bike shop. There was a small park/campground on the other side of town. We stopped, ate, and chatted. I began to rethink my decision to quit. Again -- I loved the campsite! It is here- every time- that my energy soars! Eventually, I knew it was too late. In retrospect, that can was opened.

We got into the tent to keep warm. He wrote e-mails while I wrote in my journal. We're barely spoke. I dozed off until Laina called. I asked her to come and pick me up, then dozed off again. I happen to wake up at about the time she was due to get there, so I walked out to the road and waited. She called from Safeway, unable to find the place, so I waited by the road. When she got there, we quickly loaded the bike and panniers etc. and said goodbye to Bruno. We hugged, smiled, and as I turned around felt an odd combination of failure and regret, but also that this was the right time to do this. The bike tour ended when I turned around.

So, here I am three days later. I've had time to ponder, think, adjust, etc.. On Monday, I spoke with my mother about some of the cardio symptoms. Pain between the shoulder blades, in the left shoulder, even one instance of slurred speech. She had me convinced- freaked out actually, that I was having a heart attack. The events aren't as clear now is they would've been, say Monday, but I believe the "cardio excuse" is just that. It's not what made me quit. I quit because of the strain of departure, not enjoying the riding, and not being able to be the master of my destination. This is pretty simple, and we can go back a year for another example: expectations. "Go on your own journey; and go alone." Never have I quoted or thought that so much.

This wasn't my own trip anymore. I didn't want Mexico. Nor Texas. Hell no! I didn't want 50 miles a day or the feelings of failure if I only did 20. I didn't want to carry 20 pounds of food- every day! Perhaps that, as much as anything, killed my motivation. I don't blame anyone for this but myself. My fears let this happen. That's what "didn't feel right." I needed that safety net, Bruno cooked. He fixed flats. He knew bikes. My vision could not possibly be realized due to our sharing the experience. My vision of camping in the middle of nowhere watching the stars by a campfire couldn't be realized with someone afraid of stealth camping. I couldn't read or write because I was too tired after trying to keep pace.

Bruno asked me, "What about your dream?" Great question. I made a promise to Laina: No more of this. If this fails, no more. But, did it fail? Or, was it corrupted? I am at crossroads- a big one. Similar to last year. I have to step back and be sure to gain a crystal-clear perspective. We all learn from failure, as Dylan said. Me as much, if not more, than anyone.

What did I learn? I learned that this trip should have been my own. By myself. I compromised that out of laziness. I didn't learn the camping and cooking techniques because I could lean on Bruno. I didn't condition myself properly. "I'll be fine!" Bullshit. And, the reality couldn't match my vision because of the time of year. I was fighting the physical elements and my physical shortcomings at the same time. That was a cancer to my psyche. Even if I had kept going, there was no way I get out of this what I need. Something on Tuesday was trying to tell me this.

I'm a very weak person in some regards; I have to admit that. Both physically and mentally. I suppose I could step back, reevaluate, retool, and fully prepare for something. Pay much closer attention to my health. I need to do that anyhow. If I want to do anything- I have to learn to prepare myself much better. My skills won't carry me any more. Hanging out with a 19-year-old kid for 15-days has shown me where my vitality has gone: do I want that back? Or, in my content to accept what aging laziness allows? You reap what you sow. I reaped a weekend trip to Elizabeth. Yet, I was able to take a weekend trip, on a bike, to Elizabeth! It's all a matter of attitude.

Regardless, I must quit smoking- now. Must! There is no middle ground after seeing my limitations in action. It all starts there. I have to do whatever it takes to quit. Take up walking or jogging... find something to fight the cravings. Gym membership? Personal trainer? All this and saving money. Instead of three months I could go for a year! Or, go walking with Gary? No! Go alone! I have to attack this somehow. What do I hate? Running. Stairs. I like where this is going. Potential positive on the negative. Keep riding when I can. This is an opportunity; a second chance? Probably should have been done long ago. A wake-up call?

So, let's reflect. The two weeks Bruno was here were a culmination rather than a beginning. I thoroughly enjoyed the time he was here, and we got along great! I'm very impressed with him; his wisdom, courage, and honesty at such a young age. The sky is the limit for him. We had our differences, mainly over our views on faith etc. Bruno is also, in my opinion, a bit naive; a bit trusting of government and people in power. He still young, and he's smart. I'm willing to bet that changes!

This is been a great experience in-and-of itself. The journey is the destination. I'm glad I realized and accepted that when I did. I've now made peace with my supposed "failure." I've learned much, and am a better person for that. While I am still in limbo, I have another set of tools in the toolbox. I'm prepared to try to take things more seriously, and my ego has been put in its place, yet again. I have obvious weaknesses and need to accept and address them. I'll never forget the last two and half weeks- that is for sure. Plus, I have video!

What's next? Great question, worry about, what I can control. Quit smoking; strengthen the heart. Get stronger. Perhaps like last October 29, this will lead to some very positive changes. I feel that it will...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

10/28/06: Bike Tour-Ahhhhh!

33 miles (53 km) - Total so far: 82 miles (132 km)

Finally! I feel like I'm touring rather than hauling a load of steel! We got started rather late again, but not nearly as bad as Tuesday. I decided to take the route we should have taken the first time, Cherry Creek Trail to the state park. Weather was awesome, views great, and riding smooth; a welcomed change from Tuesday! My adjusted load is now 65 pounds; down from 115.

Yes kids, I dropped 50 pounds of needless shit.

The handling actually felt like a bike again, no issues that I had Tuesday. My speed was better, and hills much easier. Goes without saying I suppose, but for any would- be tourists: IF YOU DON'T NEED IT LEAVE IT!! I was lucky enough to be able to start over.

A few interesting people we met. A lady named Ty who said we were "living her dream"! We chatted with her near the reservoir, and she even gave us $2! It was a nice gesture from a great person. The dollar I got is my new mascot, I LOVE the symbolism!

At a picnic area at the state park, we ran into Jordan. He's a few days from retiring from CDOT after, as he put it, "wasting my whole f-ing life working for the government. He identified with what we're doing very much! He says he'd love to do this and had lots of questions. Of course we encouraged him & he reminded me a great deal of myself in the spring. Good luck Jordan, and congrats again!

Finally, we met a father and his two sons riding near the C-470. The older of the two seemed amazed that we were living off of our bikes! The younger one? Not so much. I think he'd rather be playing video games.

We did take a wrong turn in Parker and had to backtrack, but only a couple miles. I talked Bruno out of biking Parker Rd.! Not ready to deal with that yet!

We found a perfect spot to camp just off the CC trail between Parker and Franktown. We got there an hour or so before sunset, so we had time to eat some rice and chill out before dark. I liked that! By the way, Raman Noodle seasoning works well with rice! At least the oriental does.

So, as I type this in my tent, today was a much better beginning. The weather's chilly and they have alot more snow down here, but I'm dry, warm, and literally a happy little camper, as long as no one bothers us! Thanks Laina for letting me use the sleeping bag! How come is it yours is wider, almost a foot longer AND warmer???

Friday, October 27, 2006

10/27/06: Bike Tour-Yawn...

Not alot going on today, although it's gorgeous outside! Bruno and I went and bought food, and I got another pair of biking shorts. Other than that, it's been nothing but surfing the 'net, and watching 'Gladiator'.

We're both getting a bit restless... I got the panniers re- packed last night, and will go through them again tonight. Eliminated a TON of stuff; much lighter. Also going to replace the tube in my back tire with a thicker one. We should be ready to push off early tomorrow morning; much earlier than noon!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

10/26/06: Bike Tour-Blizzard, Eh?

Woke up to the snow. Heavy, wet snow. Quite a bit, but not nearly what I expected. The Winter Storm Warning yielded about 6" of snow here, but further south toward Castle Rock and Colorado Springs & Pueblo (the way we were going) received as much as 2 feet!

We chose wisely.

In retrospect, taking 285 would have been a disaster! Conifer got something like 22"! This whole episode has made us think in terms of how to respond if we're faced with this in the middle of nowhere. Also, the Pocketmail may have saved our hides. We'll arrange to have someone keep an eye on the weather if we can't.

Seems elementary, doesn't it?

We've decided to stay here through Friday, to let the snow melt a bit. Temps statewide east of the mountains are to be near 70 Saturday, and the forecast says nothing about ANY kind of rain far into next week. We've decided to take a more easterly route at the beginning, to try to drop in elevation and lessen the chances of more 'blizzards'. I have to say... Coloradans have a strange definition of 'blizzards'. We've seen much worse in Michigan, and people just go about their business! I think it may be a matter of the media getting people worked up so they'll watch their weather 'forecast'!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

10/25/06: Bike Tour-Blizzard! REALLY?

21 miles (34 km) - Total so far: 49 miles (79 km)

The decision was a no-brainer. We got the details on the snowstorm heading for the front range, and heard forecasts of up to a foot of snow with sustained winds as high as 60 mph, and gusts to 90! The options were easy to weigh:

1- Ride it out (HA!)
2- Get a hotel (almost as outrageous)
3- Ride back from whence we came and try again after the storm moves through

Since we were only 20 or miles... on a direct route... it was easy. We packed up my first stealth camp and turned back.

First campsite.Tearing down as the sun comes up.

Normally, this would seem like a setback, but not so. I discovered about 20 minutes in to the ride the day before that I had packed entirely too much! It was suddenly becoming obvious what I could do without, and that list was getting longer with the mile. By Wednesday morning, I was glad to be able to drop that stuff off!

We initially intended to just retrace the C-470/ Platte Trail, but my experiences on the 470 Tuesday didn't exactly leave me missing it. We stopped off for breakfast at Le Peep at Quebec & 470, and relaxed for a few minutes and decided this would be a good opportunity to get some real street riding experience, fully loaded and good practice at finding our way on the fly. So up Quebec to Dry Creek, etc. We cut and weaved our way home, at a nice slow pace (no hurry, right?) and enjoyed it!

Heading home ahead of the snowstorm.

Just as the first rain drops were falling, we got back. Some 27 or 28 hours after we left! Eventful 27 hours it was. The place had a different vibe when I walked in. Now and again, it's good to disturb the 'assumed course' of events. For those of you who've seen "The Hunt for Red October", I equate it to a 'Crazy Ivan'. The look I got from one of our roommates when she walked in to see me was PRICELESS!

Roommates: Bad idea.

But, it's fun to stir the shit now and then! I was particularly interested in the visitor she had while her hubby was at work and my GF was headed out to her job! It makes me appreciate what I have. A little perspective does one good.

As I went to bed, no snow. It's supposed to hit Thursday AM....

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

10/24/06: Bike Tour-Launch!


As I type this, we're packed and ready to go. I spent most of last night sorting, packing, eliminating stuff and eating hard- boiled eggs. We got to bed around 1:30, and up at about 7:30; plenty of sleep. I eliminated more stuff today, threw on the oversize handlebar bag and I'm set. I decided to take Anna's advice and leave the hammock here; I'll use it next time!

We decided against 285 after comparing weather forecasts. 35 for a high in Fairplay, and snow later in the week. 72-80 all week toward La Junta. Easy choice! We're going to venture out via the Platte River trail, get south of the metro, then head toward Punkin Center... yes "Punkin". From there? Not sure, but perhaps toward the Texas panhandle or E. New Mexico. Not sure of specifics other than getting out of Denver.

Six months of planning and anticipation gives way to the reality...away we go.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

10/22/06: Bike Tour-Prelude Update #5

I'm not doing so well at the 'updating more often' thing! In my defense, there hasn't been much to update over the past week. We were waiting for Bruno's bike to arrive, which it did Friday, and for a package from Montreal which should be here tomorrow or Tuesday. After that gets here, we're all set and will probably leave the next day.

He took his bike into Campus to get the cassette replaced, and we enjoyed arguing with the jagoffs in the repair department. There seemed to be some conflicting information regarding the 'estimates' for the repairs on the bike. Come to find out, there are no 'estimates'! They charge labor based on the 'item' rather than 'time spent'. So, there are "quotes" rather than "estimates"! With me so far? There should NEVER be ANY difference in "quotes" between different people unless one is skimming, incompetent or simply too lazy to learn the pricing scale. Guess which it was. Yep! The second guy we talked to was simply too lazy to get off his ass and look up the charges! When we pressed him on it, he seemed to be quite inconvenienced and annoyed! God forbid someone would want to know what they're paying for!

Heavens No!!!!

Come to find out, they in essence charge $60/ hr. for labor; $1/ minute according to this guy's own estimate. He invited us to 'check around' and compare, which we did. Suffice it to say Campus Bike's 'service' department wont be touching my bike again. It seems like people would realize that hammering people for money once, trying to take advantage of them, then becoming indignant when they demand an explanation of the bill, thus not having them return, is less profitable than repeat business and word- of- mouth! Same story... everywhere. I'm particularly pissed in this case because of the amount of money I've spent there over the past 6- weeks. I hope that the $15 in labor is worth the lost business. Foolishness.

We decided to get the Pocketmail, but after it arrived Thursday, discovered it didn't work! We sent it back and are supposed to receive a new one tomorrow. I was on the verge of saying to hell with it, but it seems useful for things like this. If there are any problems with the next one, "To hell with it".

The weather here has been a dose of reality! It's been a roller coaster between sun, snow, wind and some rain. Fall in the Rockies! We took Bruno up into the mountains Friday, and found ourselves in a snowstorm. Some areas got up to 2- feet of snow, and I-70 was a mess:

I suppose the snow causes the nuts to fall from the trees:

"O" is for obedience!

Yesterday, we decided to go to the Denver Zoo, since it was free. Had fun; took lots of pictures.

Who's watching who?

Other than that, we've rented movies, talked and just chilled in the 8 days he's been here. Nothing terribly exciting, but in the next few days we'll make up for that.

One development may be a change in plans- again- about the route. We've discussed going straight to Mexico, and seeing how far/ long we can go, and suspending California/ Arizona. Bruno's all about it, but I'm not sure that's for me. I'm still in the pondering phase. Going to Tampico to see a friend is one thing; heading toward Central America is another.

It's funny the conflicting information you find! Some people equate Mexico as a third- world country filled with savages who prey upon 'poor helpless' Americans! Others have no problems whatsoever traveling solo and self- sustained, all the way to South America. It's made me realize, and further embrace one of the fundamental reasons for this trip: stripping away influence and 'imposed fear'. Seeing things with my own eyes and drawing my own conclusions. Between the media, hippies, neo- cons, religious nut jobs and politicians, a person can't hope to cut through the 'bullshit' on their own without personal experience to draw upon. I'm of the belief that the 'bullshit' runs just as deep on both sides of the ideological river.

Personally, my mind has been quite agitated. Too much to think about; too much idle time. I've been a bit moody! My girlfriend didn't really like the fact that I mentioned our 'disagreement' on 'spending time', but I believe now she understands why I asked her NOT to pass the link to this page along to her friends and family! The positive side of that is that we've, somewhere, come to an understanding (?) on this.

As I get closer to shoving off, I'm becoming more aware of the "Anxiety of Departure" that seems to be a common theme in most epics. Leaving everything you know and care about for uncertainty is difficult. In some strange way, I'm enjoying that anxiety. I suppose that comes from expecting it.

Bruno and I are going to dig into maps today, hammer out a rough initial- route. Thanks for the info/ suggestion regarding 285! I love that route, but never really gave much consideration to it as it pertains to this! We'll definitely look at it today and let you know what we decide. If anyone has experience/ thoughts on Mexico, I'd love to hear them. Baja????

More from the zoo:

Didn't realize they played...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

10/15/06: Bike Tour-Prelude Update #4

Bruno finally got here last night, after spending nearly 60 hours on a bus! Crossing the border was uneventful, after that dealing with Greyhound's profound lack of customer service was the biggest challenge. The bus got to Denver on time after a six hour customer service related delay in Kansas City, and we were able to be there when he arrived.

Now it's a matter of waiting for the bike to arrive, so we'll have most of the week to get acquainted and come up with a rough idea for the 'plan'. Not much else to do until then, so we'll take him up into the mountains either tomorrow or Tuesday, and basically just hang out for a few days. We get along well, but the anticipation of getting on the road is getting difficult for me. I've tried not to bombard him with too much, although the thoughts of the trip pretty much dominate my mind these days!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

10/12/06: Bike Tour-Change in Plans II

(I thought it was) Thoreau (who) said something to the effect of "Go on your own journey, and go alone!" I'm beginning to fully understand that philosophy!

Things changed rapidly, again, last night. We discussed options and Bruno decided to ship his bike and take Greyhound to Denver from Medicine Hat, SK. He found shipping, got the ticket and boarded the bus at 1 this afternoon. I was thrilled, because the bike would get here and he would presumably arrive at 5pm Saturday and we could go from there. Simple, right?


Apparently, either Greyhound or the border officials reserve the right to refuse entry into the US from Canada to anyone holding a one-way ticket. He discovered this in Regina, after riding all the way from Medicine Hat by-- get this-- READING IT ON A WALL! So, the kid's bike is on it's way to my house, and he's afraid he wont be able to cross the border and he'll be stuck in Manitoba.

I'd be shitting too.

Here's my question: Why didn't the person selling the ticket TELL HIM ABOUT THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE???? Why'd he have to read it on the wall? I believe he's going to exchange his ticket for a round trip (back to Canada) in Winnipeg, but Christ!

This is going to turn into a rant; I can feel it. I think I'll add another section for that...

So, I'm a bit annoyed tonight. But, while I rant, I also realize that this is because of a lack of preparation. Lacking information, and a clear- cut plan of action if Vancouver didn't work. Part of the flavor, and I'm sure in a few days we'll laugh about it... just not tonight! He's supposed to call from Fargo, so I know he got in.

Pretty much the whole week has been spent trying to get Bruno here, working, and watching my Tigers in the playoffs. I hate to admit it, but if they make it to the World Series, I'll have to grab the portable XM radio to listen. I've been waiting 22 years for that!

One interesting thing happened today. Encountered my first Black Widow. HUGE! I'm working with a friend (Eric) maintaining properties that have gone into foreclosure, mowing & winterizing. We found this little monster hiding in the tub drain. I had heard that the Brown Recluse was in Colorado, but didn't expect to see a Widow. Got some pictures of her, and let her be. Can't believe I didn't squish her, but she wasn't hurting anyone. I can deal with snakes, bats, and just about anything else; not a fan of spiders!

Decided to work a few days next week, since we'll be waiting for Bruno's bike. Might see if he wants to ride along with us. The bike will take 7- 10 days, so we've pushed the start date back again. Guessing either the 21st or 22nd, but maybe as late as the 24th. I suppose there's one positive out of this: making more money! Also, all this has shaken me further out of my "how" funk, and back to the "why's". And Bruno's got another story to tell!

I looked at a few routes from Denver to S. Colorado; there's not much out east. La Veta pass seems like the best place to cross the mountains, on Hwy. 160. The pass is 'only' 9000 ft. or so, and descends into the San Luis Valley to Ft. Garland. We could ride south from there into New Mexico to Taos. I know that route to Taos well from living there. At that point we could cross New Mexico going across the Rio Grande Gorge bridge (seen Natural Born Killers? The bridge scene.) and west. We'll discuss all that later, but a trip to the Sand Dunes would be quick too. Also thinking about a Route 66 route. I've always been a fan of the Mother Road, and it seems that the still- existing stretches would be perfect to ride; little traffic, lots of relics etc., and lots of towns. I really want to do the the section in W. Arizona that leaves I-40 near Seligman and goes to Oatman. We'll see, eh? Gotta get outta Denver first. Didn't Seger sing that?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

10/11/06: Bike Tour-Change in Plans

"A Change in plans?" HA! Get used to THOSE words! -x 12/23/09

Sort of a trying week but funny things happened that made me realize, or better put: remember, that if I just let things happen they tend to work themselves out!

When I began to do some real research on getting me and the bike to Seattle. I quickly realized that I would need to ship the bike a week in advance (Monday) in order to have it there, re- assembled, and ready to go. I called Velo Bike in Seattle and everything seemed fine. Then the question to myself: "When's Bruno going to get there??" He's not yet to the Rockies, the weather's getting colder, even in the Plains so I can only imagine what it's like in the mountains!! Would he even make it? It started to become apparent that plans laid down in the abstract weren't manifesting in the reality! I felt caught in limbo because if I ship the bike on Monday, then Bruno realizes it's too late in the season to bike the Rockies... say on on THURSDAY, I'm 15 kinds of screwed! Coupled with my own paranoid visions of biking the coast in gale- force winds and driving Pacific rains... I wasn't very optimistic.

I decided to do some soul- searching, and went back and read some 4-6 month old entries from my journal, about WHY I wanted to do this trip in the first place. In the beginning, the vision was one of a solitary biker, riding into the sunrise from Denver to a non- existent destination. Just going. When I found Bruno, it seemed that it would be great to have someone to share it with, to be able to reflect on where we were, where we were going, and what we'd learned and experienced. He was biking toward Vancouver, and since I didn't really care, and had always wanted to see the Oregon coast, Seattle made sense. The late- October weather has always been a warning flag in the back, and sometimes front, of my mind and I should have listened to it!

I went as far as, over the weekend, to begin an email to Bruno, explaining the seriousness of the situation as far as logistics go, and to implore him to turn south if there was ANY doubt about Vancouver! I had all but determined that if he was going to continue west, I may just set out, alone, from Denver rather than risk a wasted trip to Seattle!

I couldn't do that because of the commitment I made to him and didn't send the email.

One of the primary objectives of this trip was to be flexible and to take things as they came; let them add flavor to the experience. After some reflection, it was obvious I'd found my first opportunity to practice that.

If you read Bruno's update, you'll find that it all worked out. When I read that he 'doubted' he'd get to Vancouver, it was time to act. No man can tell another what to do. I'm glad that the realization was his. We chatted for a few hours on gmail, and batted around the idea of me driving to Montana to pick him up. That was actually a selfish offer on my part; it would get me on the road faster! In the end we decided that a bus from Swift Current to Denver made the most sense. While he'd have to ride Greyhound for 2 days, it would get him here Friday and offer him the chance to recharge for a few days. From my standpoint, it's cheaper to pay half of the bus ticket than to drive, and again, (selfish, I know!)get me on the road next week! The anticipation is intolerable!

BUT-- fate again steps in! When he got to the bus station today, he discovered that it would cost $355 to have his bike shipped here! Plus the $200 for the ticket.

Ummm... no.

So, he hitchhiked to Medicine Hat, Alberta and is on his way to a Couchsurfer in Lethbridge. We're back to trying to figure out how to get him here. I can't take our Mountaineer that far because it needs shocks, and the roommates can't go. So it looks like a rental car. Oh, joy! It's about 900 miles from Denver to his border crossing. He'll need to get that far, one way or another. Not going to deal with customs! It looks as though, unless there's another bolt of lightning, I'll leave either after work tomorrow or really early Friday. It's something like 14 hours each way; doable on a good night's sleep. Gets us back in Denver late Saturday. (?) One good thing about this experience: my Canadian geography is improving immensely!

So the plans, and of course the route, have changed dramatically. We'll have to sit down when he gets here and figure out which direction to go. Pretty easy when "North" and "West" are ruled out! I'm thinking a little east, then quite a bit south! I've always wanted to see the parts of northern New Mexico I missed when I lived in Taos, and relish the isolation! Bruno wants to see the Grand Canyon, so that would fit, and I have a friend who MAY still be working at the Lake Powell resort in Page, AZ. We both want to go to California. San Diego for me, and San Francisco for Bruno. We'll figure it out. Getting on the road, and getting south, is of more importance right now.

My friend in Tampico, Mexico has decided to leave in January. I think she's had enough of teaching English! I suspect there's more to it than that, and I'd love to find out 'what' that is. So I'm not sure we'd be able to get there by the time she leaves, unless we go there first. Always an option I guess. No Tampico?, There's always Baja! Mr DJ, cue up Van Halen's 'Cabo Wabo' if you please...

I said in the last update that my girlfriend wanted no part in my transport. After I posted that, it remarkably changed! She offered to take time off work, rent a car to Seattle and fly home. I found that interesting! No need for any of that now. Throughout this process, until now, she's not really shown an active interest in taking part in ANY of this, beyond discussion. She doesn't 'get it'. It's always been a 'nuisance' for her to go to the bike shops, REI, etc. Now that the departure date is less than a week away, she's beginning to panic. I find it ironic that all this time we could have spent 'together' we spent rushing through bike shops because she didn't want to be there. What would she do after we rushed home? TV! Wasting days off watching TV, then complaining about 'time together'! 'Time Together' isn't defined as going to dinner or to a museum, and it sure as hell doesn't mean watching TV/ movie! It means taking an active interest in the other persons life and sharing it with them. My answer to the 'quality time' question: "where were you and what were you doing all this time?". Seems a bit one- sided. She's a conventional person with socially programmed thinking and while I understand it, this has always been a problem. I must say I do appreciate the fact that she's tolerated me for the past two years, but that's just it--- she's tolerated rather than trying to understand & come along for the ride. So now, when I'm REALLY trying to focus my mind like a laser beam, I'm not going to deal with any Desperate Drama. She chose 'Ellen' and "Days of Our Lives" and it was generally a 'bother' to take part and 'spend time' with me over the last five months, so am I being unfair? Would you believe I saw this coming?

I'm fascinated more and more by my own mind, and how if I let it the view out the 'front window' changes. It all seemed so clear a month ago, but when I got lost in the 'how', the 'why' sort of faded to the rear. I suspect that will be both my greatest battle and liberation. As long as I keep the right set of glasses on my mind's eye! I'll begin to update more frequently from now on; I'll try to do it as close to daily as possible once Bruno gets here. Thanks too to the folks who've signed the guestbook! You'll be happy to know that reading 'it's not about the "stuff" did help, although I do believe I'm still taking the hammock!

Friday, September 29, 2006

9/29/06: Bike Tour-Prep Update #1

Decided to give at least weekly updates on the final preparations after pondering an email from my CS buddy Jack. I realized that I may tour again, and prepare again, but this is the only time I'll do it for the FIRST time!

The job at the stadium ended for the season yesterday, and after it was done, HUGE sense of relief! I love that job, but 9/28 was a date I'd mentally circled somewhere back in the Spring. Like driving I-40 across new Mexico and FINALLY getting to Tucumcari or Gallup! I'm sure a few of you know what I mean. It occurs to me that the job is the only 'deadline' I really have for this trip; returning to it in April. I'd love to figure out a way to work/make money on the road as a way to stay out indefinitely! Anyone have any thoughts on this?

A couple of weeks ago, I applied for and received a position at a radio station here in town, just running the board for football games and Sunday 'talkers'. I figured I'd do it for a few weeks to make some extra cash and just quit. Sounds a bit crass so I suppose my bitterness toward that industry is showing. I justified it by recalling all of the decent people I've worked with who were fired due to 'cost- cutting', or 'format changes', or even just a change in Program Directors! I've never seen the station giving the employees fair notice before the ax flies. In fact, I remember one in particular who was 're- assigned', with a significant pay- cut, weeks after he closed on a house. People in the station knew of his purchase AND of the 're- assignment' yet said or did nothing; where's the 'honor' in that??

Anyhow, I declined the job today, before I really even started. My income will be fine working with my friend (the 'other job'), and the hassle of trying to commute to Aurora for $9/hr just seemed stupid. (Yes... major market radio job that pays $9/ hr!!!) I did train one morning with Ryan, the PD and had an unexpected result: I liked the guy! He's young enough to still have some idealism, yet smart enough to understand his business and what it is. I couldn't just quit and not give him a chance to get someone in place. It would have been easier if her were an egotistical prick! I didn't tell him about the bike tour...

Decided to change fenders... again. Got some Bontrager 45's. So, now I have 3 sets of fenders and am only using 1!!! Yes, I'm the efficient shopper!! Let me know if you need/ want any SKS Chromoplast 700x35 or 26x 1.95's! Also ordered and am waiting on the SKS double kickstand. That thing better sing Pavarotti to me for $54! The Tubus Logo came in also this week, so once the Schwalbe Marathon XR's get here next week, that SHOULD be everything for the bike, outside of spare spokes and cables. Any thoughts on spokes?

I've yet to get a helmet and a mirror, probably get that when I have all this stuff installed... one final drawn- out trip to Campus Cycles! Who am I kidding?

I'm wavering on the trunk- rack and a new handlebar bag. I found an Ortleib waterproof trunk bag that I like, but of course am afraid to commit to it. My panniers aren't waterproof, so I'm thinking it may be a good idea to have the trunk and handlebar bags to keep papers/ electronics dry. That's compounded by the fact that I'm considering taking my SLR digital camera; which of course gives me one more thing to worry about on the road.

I'll have a tent tomorrow, one way or another. REI's garage sale. Hoping to find a 2-3 man 4- season tent. It'll get use outside of the tour as well. One thought from Bruno: the extra weight is worth the extra room! Will not skimp on the tent. Also considering Pocketmail. My friend Gary "Walkingman" Hause loved his. Any experience/ advice you can offer with this? I love the fact it runs off batteries. No word from Bruno since Monday, but figure to hear from him this weekend from Winnipeg. Chatted with Jack via email a bit and hopefully he'll be back in the states in time to get together when we hit California. Jack just finished TWO YEARS on the bike through Asia and Europe! Great guy to talk to about 'stuff', and he always helps me remember not to stress about stuff I can't control. It's part of the adventure, right?

9/29/06: The Greatest Challenge-Myself

All-in-all, I'm rather surprised at how smoothly the preparation has gone. I decided to do this sometime back in April, and from the outset it's been a matter of forcing myself to step outside of all the comfort zones I'd created over time. Some people believe that as we get older, we become prisoners of our own environment, and while I don't consider 36 'old', I can definitely see the tendency in myself.

Believe it or not, the first challenge was even getting on the bike! I hadn't ridden in probably 20 years until I bought my little Peugeot 'touring' bike this Spring. I was actually afraid of trying to ride it in the city because, although I enjoyed biking immensely as a child, I was scared that the skills would have left me, or that the urban traffic would be overwhelming. I remember the first trip up Clayton St. that night, and the sense of accomplishment over riding 2 blocks!

The short- lived Peugeot.

That theme of facing fear and cemented notions has become the pervasive one over the past few months, and continue today; that's what this section will probably entail the most.

The next hurdle I faced, after I got comfortable riding around the neighborhood, was commuting to work at the ballpark. I remember that day clearly, because it taught me something valuable. The first day I rode the 3 miles to the stadium and back, it happened to be raining and I was contemplating walking. I got so disgusted with myself for looking for the easy and 'safe' way out, that I told myself "How the **** can you ever expect to do any kind of tour, if you can't even ride three miles in the bleeping rain?!"

Obvious, eh?

From that point on, I began to vigorously fight these urges to seek out the familiar and the 'safe'. The mind can be a funny thing, and it makes me laugh to think how such a trivial accomplishment can be so important!

We moved at the beginning of July, and I also purchased the 520 at that time. The next challenge?? Ready for another laugh? Getting on the 520! I'd grown used to my Trek Navigator, and was concerned about riding a bike with the clipless pedals wearing regular shoes! Brilliant! Once I got on that bike though, and remembering the 'lessons' from earlier in the Summer, I began to really start exploring the bike paths around Denver. Some of the best times I've had in this city have been the little day trips on the bike, taking pictures and seeing Denver from new perspectives.

Clipless pedals! That was another one! I fought the realization that I really should use them, because... say it with me now; you know the theme... I 'wasn't comfortable' trying them. I forced myself to by a pair of Cannondale shoes, and it took me at least 3 weeks to get them on my feet and on the bike. I was sure I'd be falling in the street somewhere! Guess what. No problem. Another theme! I love them now, and missed them when I commuted to work.

There are still hurdles to overcome, but they're minor and fear- based. I'm unsure how the stealth camping will work out, but I'll figure that out. I'm rather intimidated by the idea of riding on busy roads, but I'll suck it up. And there are times when I'll step out on the porch when it's cold and ask "What in the hell are you thinking!" The voice of self- doubt is gradually becoming quieter & eventually he'll be replaced by something else.

Even now, before the trip has even begun, this process has worked wonders for me personally. It's helped me to bust out of the mental prison of habit, and re- introduced me to the wonders of discovery; part of my psyche that's been a bit ignored. Youth is indeed sometimes wasted on the young!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

9/27/06: Bike Tour-Gear & Training

Since this is my first tour, I had to start from scratch! I didn't even know what a 'pannier' was in March!

No kidding. Quit laughing.

The first decision, obviously, was a bike. After asking alot of questions, doing much reading, and buying my first 'touring bike' off of Craigslist, a mid 80's Peugeot for $100, I decided that since I lack expertise I should get something that's reliable and has a good record of satisfaction. Since I couldn't afford the Koga World Traveler, I decided on the Trek 520. I got it from Wheat Ridge Cyclery, and wish I hadn't. Had I bothered to ask around a bit more I would have found other places that were willing to swap components, such as the stem for instance. Lesson #1. The bike itself has been excellent however!

Since the purchase, I added a Brooks B-17 Standard and SKS fenders that I purchased from Wallingford Bike, simply because of the SIX MONTH return policy on the saddle! The Brooks however will NOT be going back. The fenders have again been replaced by Bonrager '45's' to accommodate the wider tires/tread. I've also added a Jandd Mountaineering full front rack and a Tubus Logo on the rear. I've replaced the Bontrager 700c x 32's with Michelin TransWorld 35's and may replace those with the Schwalbe Marathon XR's before I leave. At the very least there will be a pair of folding XRs in the panniers.

Click here for a larger version of the picture

The panniers are the most agonizing for me, simply because of my reluctance to spend money! In the end however, I decided on the Arkel GT-54's. Big mothers! I found them in stock at Campus Cycles, and in addition to the panniers felt fortunate to find a dealer I can trust. More on that later...I'm probably going to roll with some Performance panniers up front. Simply because I already have them! I'll rely on my ingenuity to keep things dry up there (read: garbage bags).

I'm going to carry both a tent and Hennessey Hammock at the outset, and probably ship one home. The Hennessey is light and takes up little space, so we'll see. I'll also be taking my 2-man three-season tent that I picked up at the Coleman Outlet store. Checked the REI garage sale; it was a big waste of time.

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Out in the woods...
-Kryptonite 'New York' lock and will carry a cable for tires/trees.

-MSR Whisperlite International stove and a cooking set as well, as I intend to spend as little on food as I can; lots of oatmeal!

-Added the SKS double kickstand.

I'm sure there are things I'm forgetting. Let me know if you have questions or suggestions!

As for bike shops. What is the matter with these people?? There are exactly two bike shops I trust. Campus Cycles and Denver Bike. That's it! Between the profiteering at the expense of inexperienced shoppers and borderline indignation, I've come to appreciate patience and honesty. Campus Cycles got just about all of my business until we got a look under the belly of the service department. Just like Turin, they seem to be annoyed to the brink of violence by someone with questions! On the positive side for Turin, Leslie is the most knowledgeable and helpful person as far as touring goes. She sold me the 520--even though I didn't buy it there.

I'll never set foot in Collins Bikes on Colfax again. Adventure Cycling was fine, but I was disappointed in their selection. I'm not sure there is anything more annoying than 'bike snobs', and that attitude really has no place in retail. I'm sure the folks at Campus were happy that many of you are asses, since I'll be buying products much longer than I'll be ignorant. However, after the experience with the service department (see 10/22 update), and considering how much money I've spent there, I may be back in the market for a bike shop.


Training. Yeah....

I've read alot of journals about people who profess to go on strict diets and riding regimens. That's great for them, but I still eat and wont lie and claim to ride 200 miles a week!

My training has consisted of commuting to and from work, and riding anywhere between 30 & 45 miles about twice a week. To my credit, I try to carry a decent load on the bike and seeks out the hills but I have a problem with destinations. I really don't like to set mileage goals because it takes the spontaneity out of the ride; and hate re-tracing my route. I could get 'mileage' on a stationary! I ride whenever and however long I feel like, and make sure I enjoy myself!

I'll update this page a week or two into the trip, and let you know how I feel then! Deal?

Some "training" terrain, on Mt. Motherfucker, as I affectionately call her.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

9/27/06: Bike Tour-A Mini-Manifesto?

From: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/T2

The What & How

This bike trip is in reality almost completely improvised, as the title suggests. At the outset, I'll be riding with my young friend Bruno, whom I met on Couchsurfing. He's riding right now from Montreal toward Vancouver. The tentative plan is for me to meet him somewhere west of Seattle, turn the bikes south and ride. That's pretty much it. I've added an update on Bruno's progress as well because the story of his journey west is sure to become interesting, especially about the time he approaches the Canadian Rockies in October! There's a possibility, likelihood even, that my trip will begin here in Denver.

I have another friend, Sarah, who's teaching English in Tampico, Mexico who has invited us to 'stop by'! I would love to! She's an adventurist at heart, and I suspect she's feeling a bit chained to her j-o-b! The Tampico decision will be made WAY down the road.

The duration of this trip will be up to 5 1/2 months. Depending, of course, on money. To conserve cash and to adhere to the philosophical foundation I've resolved to avoid hotels and campgrounds. My intention is to stealth camp and Couchsurf almost exclusively. Relearn self- reliance and sharpen my survival instincts to something more than a sprint to Motel 6 & McDonald's only to waste money in an effort to avoid adversity. I'm not so foolish as to believe that there will be NO hotels or McDonald's, but no more than are absolutely necessary!

I'd love to hear from anyone and everyone, and I'll do my best to update as much as possible. I intend to keep a written daily-journal, and will copy directly from that when the internet presents itself. Sign the damn guestbook too!

Why: Vitam Impendere Vero!

You know the look, don't you.

The one you're guaranteed whenever you tell someone you're going on an extended, self-sustained bike trip...especially LEAVING in October! They can't quite figure out WHY someone would WILLINGLY subject themselves to effort at the risk of ANYTHING resembling inconvenience! They cannot fathom any other way of life outside of the pursuit of comfort, and when they see or hear someone running directly against that current in pursuit of something, ANYTHING, greater than Consumerism, you can actually physically SEE their programming short circuit!

I love that look!

This is a bike trip that's been, in the grand scheme of things, more than two years in the making, without me realizing it until April! I've never been a person who's ever been satisfied with anything. No matter what goal I'd set for myself, what new toy I'd buy, or whatever new location I'd find myself living in, the results are always the same: dissatisfaction. I found myself, as Pink Floyd says "waiting for someone or something to show me the way". It never occurred to me that the 'way' is lurking inside. Actually...it doesn't lurk. It screams. I'm just learning to understand it.

In 2004, I decided, out of desperation, to take a very close look inside & ask some very raw questions of myself and to give even more brutal answers. While this project is far from complete, I've come to some very startling, by institutional standards, realizations. That the less I have, and the less I want, the happier I am. The less I feel the need to possess, the closer to absolute freedom I feel. I believe it's true that your 'stuff', even a house, car, job, end up owning you. To what end?

I've also come to realize that the deeper I try to explain these things the less they make sense!

Suffice it to say that I have some very definite ideas about my path to some sense of happiness and purpose and none of them involve new cars, mortgages, or climbing a 'ladder'! Each person has their own path and their own voice. Mine has brought me here. The bike trip is symbolic of a transition from philosophy & ideas to action & experience. For those of you who know the name and story of Heinze Stucke, you'll have a good chance to understand. Enough from the soapbox.


I've decided to add this at the outset, to give a better understanding of what it is I hope to accomplish with this trip, since these 'goals' are far from 'mileage', or 'destinations'.

First and foremost I want to reconcile philosophy and action. I've spent two years complaining about the state of affairs and expectations of the "American Dream". It's apparent that from the earliest days, Americans are indoctrinated into a system that puts a premium on conformity and finding a 'place' in the economic machine, with the promise that monetary and vocational 'success' will lead to fulfillment. The formula to be followed is beaten into our heads by the educational system, politicians, religions, and of course (and most insidious of all) the MEDIA. After spending roughly 10 years in radio, and observing how the media, and advertising in particular, operate I've become hyper-sensitive to the way the public is manipulated and kept 'stupid' as a means for these outlets to garner ratings and advertising revenue. Once I tuned into that, saw it operate from the inside, and asked myself if I have ANY sense of idealism...well, it's impossible to just "play along!"

Most Americans in my not-so-humble opinion, and to paraphrase John Lennon, are kept 'doped by religion, sex, and TV'. But yet, "are still fucking peasants" in the grand scheme. Blinded by consumerism and chasing the next financial trophy to gain some sense of status, purpose and self-worth, they have no concept of the fact that they are indeed individuals beyond becoming a reality TV star or creating a page on MySpace. People are not bound or beholden to any state or system, and while Americans are full of the "Freedom Jingoism", they forget that 'liberty' isn't defined by the ability to buy a new car, house, or TV (on credit), but to be the master of their own destiny. WHATEVER that destiny may be.

One of my favorite aspects of children is the most annoying to many parents. The tendency to ask "Why? Why? Why?"! Eventually the answer becomes "Because I said so!!" People should NEVER stop asking why, and never be content until the answers are found. One of my favorite examples of 'why' that is happened at work. A friend of mine was getting married, and said "Aren't you supposed to spend three month's salary on the ring?" I asked him "why?". His response was...and I'm not kidding...was that he heard that on a jewelery commercial!! Of course I protested, and asked why he should feel obligated to spend what a JEWELER said he should! "I don't know..that's what you're supposed to do!!" This is the time when 'the look' hits; he couldn't answer that because he'd been conditioned to accept it. "They" said so. People get so pissed off when you press them on this. It's that area of dirty truth, hidden under the floorboards of a musty house. The place no one wants to go for fear of what they may find. It's easier to close the eyes, accept it and avoid the fight.

I wont just 'accept' anything any longer.

That's all fine and great except for one thing: how do you put these ideals into practice??? That's the primary goal of this bike trip. More self-reliance, and less dependence on a system that, for me, corrupt. People in the 21st century cannot live completely independently, however, you can choose how you utilize the system. I've decided to try to figure out a way to work when & how I choose, but only to support myself and allow me to explore myself and my world. My initial idea was hiking; biking is much more efficient because I can cover much more ground.

That's the long term goal.

In the short term, I want to relearn, and embrace my survival instincts. I also want to learn to just 'let go' to a greater degree, with no itinerary or 'plan' other than riding. I want persevere. Eliminate fear and the resulting dependency. And, I want to come back to Denver at the end with a clearer idea of the next step, which will, hopefully, be of a much greater scale than this one. Or knowing that I was completely full of hot air!

I know that some of this tends to offend & annoy some people, if that's the case, I apologize. But bear in mind that I'm not trying to convince anyone of an ideology, simply to develop and practice my own. We all have a path and reasons; these are mine!

After the trip, I'll refer to this and see how well I did!

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Horrors!!! He SMOKES!!!