Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 30
Hico to Lampasas

Today started much like yesterday, dark, dreary and wet. We decided (my dad and I) to go to the Koffee Kup for breakfast- this was a recommendation from several people. We were not disappointed, the food and service were both awesome. While checking out the owners could not believe I was about to head out on my bike on a day like this. I told them I had ridden in from Weatherford the day before. They then agreed with me that today was not so bad. They asked about the ride, and so I talked with them for a short while and explained what the ride is about, gave them some information, (asked them to check it out and follow) and was again on my way.
Today it was easy to find my way, we got on highway 281(the American Legion Memorial Highway) and followed it all the way to Lampasas. The rain stopped within a half an hour leaving Hico, so I stopped and changed out of my rain gear and into my long pants and jacket.

All I can say about the terrain today is – “Welcome to Texas Hill Country!!!” The roads are a roller coaster of hills, nothing really too steep, just lots of them. I managed the worst of the hills pretty easily as I rolled toward Lampasas. I was hoping to see lots of Bluebonnets today and was disappointed that I did not get to see lots of fields full of them. I did stop at one field that had a lot of bluebonnets later in the day and took a picture….the one you see above… when you have that many Bluebonnets they are quite beautiful.

The traffic today was quite heavy in both directions; there were a large number of campers traveling in both directions, as well as a lot of motorcycles too. I could not help but wonder what the large amount of both were for or where they were off too or coming from, is it possible that the Bluebonnet are that much of a draw? They say this about peak for them and in the areas surrounding us, and there are supposed to be awesome fields full of them – we will see what tomorrow brings as far as that goes.

We are staying overnight at a home my father-in-law is renovating in the area, so we had to wait for him to arrive and show us exactly how to get to the property (it was only 20 minutes or so). As he arrived to guide us in, my family came driving up as well to surprise me with a visit. They were in Abilene and weather postponed my daughters’ softball game so they took a road trip to visit for a while.
Before they left for the evening we went into town and had dinner, Bar-B-Q, at the firehouse@@@@@@. I had the two meat platter-Sausage and brisket with beans and potato salad. It was the first Bar-B-Q I have had since getting to Texas, and it was GOOD!
We went back to the house said our goodbyes and I showered and went to bed for a good night’s rest.

The Garmin information for the day is as follows:

Day 30 Hico to Lampasas by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details

Friday, April 16, 2010

Day 29
Weatherford to Hico

Ok it was back to the bike after a few days off. The weather did not cooperate at all, it was raining all night and wasn't letting up. The drive to Weatherford was long and dreary, I was hoping the rain would let up by the time we arrived. This was not the case, so we started the day with a cup of coffee, at the local Waffle House, when we were done the weather had not changed any. We went to a hotel accross the street and used the cover of their enrty way.

I donned my rain gear and finally hit the road. I did not get to see much in the way of colors, or sights as I was looking down most of the day to keep therain out of my face. The rain was unrelenting all day, but thankfully the traffic was very light on most of the roads. I pushed myself harder than usual just to try and finish as soon as possible, warm up and rest for a better day tomorrow!!(I hope)

As I arrived in Hico for the evening, the skies began to clear and the rain stopped -just my luck - I am done for the day and the rain finally stops. Took my shower to warm up get dry clothes on and went for a bite to eat and to explore the town. We went to the Billy The Kid statue and walked around to check out the town before stopping for dinner. Dad and I both had the Chicken fried steak at Jersey Lillys, and it was very good.

One last thing before going to sleep - the local laudry mat to dry my shoes a little for tomorrow. Mixed reports for tomorrow but maybe a little more rain.....Lets hope not!

The garmin information for today is as follows:

Day 27 Weatherford to Hico by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 27
awareness and meetings dfw area

Had a meeting kind of set up with Kathleen Reaves, but we had a miscomunication with phones and I missed the opportunity to meet her - Kathleen I am so sorry we missed each other!

I did meet with Mike Kimbrough, ( I stayed at his parents home in Ranger), we had lunch and talked about our stories and the similarities. Mike is very sure of where he wants to be in the future and how he intends to get there - Mike - I have no doubts that you will win. I am looking forward to The Hotter that hell 100 in Texas next year! (Mike wants to ride it next year, and I told him if he rides I will meet him and ride with him!)

It was nice to hear someone else who thinks like me and refreshing to see his tenacity. Mike you are an inspiration, keep up the good attitude and don't let anything hold you back.

Day 25
Ranger to Weatherford

Before we left Ranger this morning the Kimbroughs' were determined to make sure we were fed well(again!) We had a wonderful breakfast of eggs, sausage, and toast with home made Peach jam. I was stuffed and did not know how I would sit on the bike and ride eating so much, but I climbed on the bike, thanked our hosts and wished them a good day.

Heading East again along the I-20 access roads, there was a bit of a head wind, the road ways and medians were all starting to get big bunches of flowers blooming, the colors were starting to get more vivid. It was much hillier than I expected but ultimately it was downhill. I went below 1000 ft. of elevation for the first time in weeks!

Had to ride on the highway several times, as the access roads just stop at certain points. It was one of these quick jaunts on the highway that produced my 3rd flat - a rear flat this time. I changed this in quick time and was again on the road.

A friend of my dads' happened upon us at the exit back to the access road, so we stopped and talked. As we were talking I realized my tire had a slow leak,(this was a tire I patched last week), we were near the end of the day so I just pumped up the tire and went on to Weatherford.

Arriving in Weatherford we pulled off the road to the tuckstop and loaded the bike for the ride to DFW metroplex area. We started down the road, and received a call from my dads friend (Ed Hernandes), it seemms he went to his local bikeshop and was picking up his own bike when he mentioned me and the ride and my situation with tires and tubes. He said to meet him at the bikeshop in Hurst,(Bicycles, Inc.)and they could help me out.

Help me they did with tubes, lube, patch kits, and a water bottle -- you guys are awesome. Rick shared with me that he had lost a daughter to Leukemia, and was appreciative of what I was doing.

After leaving the bike shop we made our way to Irving, our destination for the next couple of evenings. This was only the beginning of my eveneing though - It seems my wife (Tammy) had found a way to keep our original plans in place and flew in without my knowledge, and surprised me at my inlaws home. This is to be the only vacation time I will have with my family since I will have a lot of paybacks to take care of this summer.

A real big thank you yo my wife for her help and support throughout my journey, the countless hours of talking, supporting, routing and reservations.

The Garmin information for the day is as follows:

Day 23 Ranger to Weatherford by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details

Day 24
Abilene to Ranger

Today is exciting and very sad at the same time, as I ride out of Abilene away from our daughters and son we don't get to see often, I am sad and do not feel like moving on. I do on the other hand have new friends to meet today in Ranger, which has helped to get me back on the bike.

But first things first----I had to pick up my bike from Bike World. I can not give them enough of a thank you for the tune up they performed on the bike. I brought it in with 1,500 miles on it with nothing more than a cleaning of the chain on the first day being done to it. The shifter picked up a phantom shift and was dirty and noisy. Gary cleaned, tightened, and torqued everything back to new. The cassette had loosened up, the non drive side spokes were loose, and it was filthy. Gary--you did such a good job I was bored and did not even have the sounds of the pedals turning to break the monotony of parts of the day, but thank you for a job well done!!!!

A member of the Colon Club message boards read my call that I posted back on April 7th, to meet others in my travels, and responded that his parents live in Ranger and he set it up so that My dad and I were able to stay with them for the evening.

The road to Abilene was again along the access roads of I-20, but this is starting to get prettier form the aspect of flowers. The bluebonnets are coming out and are beautiful, along with Indian Paintbrush, and so many more colors all along the way.

When I arrived (after riding 3 extra miles because I missed a turn) I was pretty tired, We introduced ourselves to the Kimbroughs', and were invited into their home. I have to comment here a little about their home it is a bit unusual but beautiful just the same. Their house is an old Chevrolet dealership that went defunct in 1968, they have purchased this bowstring truss roofed building and built a beautiful apartment into what was originally the parts room and Showroom. The Kimbroughs live with their dog Thomas who was quite a bit of fun. The garage area that surrounds their apartment is where the stove, smoker, workshop, extra bathroom and a whole lot of storage is. They can cook all day and never heat up their apartment - very ingenious, and effective.

We were treated to a wonderful Lasagna dinner, and then treated to a bit of history of the area. It seems that Ranger, back in 1918 - 1919 was quite the oil boom town of some 30,000 people. They had every car dealership known at the time, and if you did not get a parking spot on main street you had to walk quite the distance to be on main street at night. The Kimbroughs owned the truck stop in town at one time, and then the local diner for some 20 years, so when I tell you the food was good you can rest assured it was GOOD!

After a while we got to talking about Mike, Mike is a stage IV colon cancer survivor from the colon club. I was amazed to hear his story as it seemed to be similar to my story and he had the same attitude I had and then some! Mike never believed anything but survival and made sure to tell his doctors this very quickly. His story is different than mine in that he has had more extensive liver involvement than I had, but has persevered through over a year of chemo now and is currently 16 months past his diagnosis date!( I did meet mike, but I will talk about that in another post)

I felt good knowing that I can be at his parents home and show them that stage IV is not always terminal....There is hope. Sometimes people just need to see it for themselves to believe it.
We were offered a place to sleep for the night in a beautiful 1984 travel trailer in the garage, we soon turned in a had a wonderful nights rest.

The Garmin information for the day is as follows:

Day 22 Abilene to Ranger by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details
Day 21
Lake Colorado City State Park to Abilene

Leaving the park this morning we had to wait for the gate to be unlocked, then we continued onto the access roads of I-20, and right away we were in the middle of the windmill farms that we were on the edge of yesterday.

After passing the windmills, finally, I started passing old cotton farmlands with cotton from last years crop on the ground still. The road passed under the highway and there were several caged carts full of what appeared to be last years cotton, just sitting around.

I was trying to make good time today as the Firefighters from Abilene were to meet me in Trent and ride the balance of the day to Abilene with me. Of course the wind gods had other plans, I was heading East - guess which way the winds were heading?? East/Southeast all day!! I was still able to manage some decent times, and at lunchtime I was in Sweetwater. I had my first whataburger, and was impressed at the service they provide, and the burger was good as well.

After lunch I stopped at the Sweetwater fire department and traded patches with them, I was able to give them their first patch from Connecticut, for their patch wall! Time was still ticking and I was to be 15 miles away in about an hour, that was a little tight time wise. I called Kevin Johnson (Local 1044 President) to let him know I was running a little late. It seems they had a later start than anticipated as well, sounds like we will both be there around the same time still!

I pedaled until I finally arr rived at the new school in Trent, and as I arrived the group of six firefighters had just left to come down the road to meet me. We pulled into the school for a moment, I was introduced to the firefighters, I am sorry to say I am terrible with names and cannot remember them all. I will get their names to be posted.

They were 6 strong and myself when we set out for Abilene, 25 miles left for the day. It was a nice ride, I shifted from front to back to talk with the firefighters as we rode, it made the last 25 miles pass very quickly. When we arrived in Tye one of the firefighters looked up and said, "I think your kids are up there", and when I looked my daughters Adrianne, and Kristin along with Adriannes' boyfriend Daniel were there to ride the last 8 miles with me as well.

I was overwhelmed and excited to have such support and encouragement. We stopped at the Sam's club parking lot where we were met by the press, 2 TV stations, the Abilene newspaper, a MetroCares Ambulance, and a fire engine from Abilene Station 1, to welcome us and follow us to station 1 for refreshments. Sam's club donated some Gatorade, water, and ice for us to rehydrate while talking to the press and winding down.

Kevin Johnson found the local bike shop - Bike World - who was willing to work with me to get the Long Haul Trucker tuned up and cleaned up, to continue the rest of the trip.

Thank you Kevin, Local 1044 firefighters, Bike World, MetroCares Ambulance (David Bulloch, and Samantha Keck), and all the Abilene press willing to help spread our words of awareness!!!

The garmin information for the day is as follows:

Day 21 Lake Colorado City State park to Abilene by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details

Day 20
Midland to Lake Colorado City State park

Hitting the road this morning was very touching, for the first time I had some family ride with me... it was only a few blocks but it was an awesome feeling! After hitting the roadways it was back to I-20 and the access roads it offered. It was a very rural ride today, and was able to see some unusual things on this day.

My dad (Mike) has been leapfrogging around me everyday carrying my bags and extra water bottles. Sitting in the car (probably bored out of his mind watching me ride by every 30 minutes or so). This day was a day that he could truly enjoy, we ran across several small Salvage yards?(I don't care to call them junk yards), that have awesome selections of old cars available to purchase. One of these was a yard with 35-40 1955,1956,and 1957 Chevrolets. And several private yards with old cars for sale. My dad enjoying cars as he does (especially his 1935 Ford, back home in Denver), was enjoying the sights and the occasional conversation with the owners. It was good to see him having some fun on this otherwise monotonous following of my riding. THANK YOU DAD!!!!

After seeing some of the cars and stopping to see some myself (I am a huge fan of 1965-1966 Mustangs, and got to see some of those as well!), I was chased by my first loose dog. Thank goodness I had my pepper spray - it did the trick - a little hit it's nose and back home he went!

The next biggest thing I found is the windmills, lots and lots, and lots of windmills. It is amazing that those huge things can be turned by the smallest of breezes, not a problem today as I had 10 - 15 MPH cross/head winds. It is amazing how many of them are out there on that ridge. It does make for cool viewing a night as you look from a distance and see all the red lights blinking.

Other that the wind mills and cars the only other notable thing this day was the FINA refinery in Big Spring,TX. It is quite the site to behold, i have never seen a working refinery before, and was amazed at the size of a working refinery, it has been in operation over 80 tears and gets its raw fuel from the Gulf of Mexico and puts out 4 million tons of fuel products and asphalt a year, so I guess they do it pretty big in Texas!!!!

We ended the day at Lake Colorado City State park, a little off the beaten path but a very nice park.

Instead of ending the blog here, I get to share a little about the State park.... We were camped next to a camper from New Hampshire, (neighbors, since I am from Connecticut). We met and talked to Jean Everson and Dick Spurr, in the camper and told the story of our ride and mission, and we shared stories from the road as well.
We turned in for the night and got a much needed good nights sleep.

The Garmin Information for the day is as follows:

Day 20 Midland to Lake Colorado City State park by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details

Day 19
Pecos to Midland

It was good to get back on the bike today, the day of rest was good and I have a long ride ahead of me today. Today's destination Midland to stay with a distant cousin that I have not seen since I was in 20+ years.

Today's ride parallels I-20 and I am told that there are a few hills that I must contend with. I headed out and was quickly met by the smell of oil. I did not realise how many oil wells were actually along side these highways. As I rode I started thinking why they call it light sweet crude, it really did have a sorta sweet odor, but it wasn't very pleasant just the same. As I was riding along I was also quickly reminded that I was near railroad tracks. I was passed by 6 trains in the first hour of riding, being the big kid that I am and loving trains as I do it was fun waving at the trains to see how many I could get to sound their horns. It was quite amusing and took my mind off an otherwise monotonous section of road.

We pulled into Pyote, TX and found a little diner for breakfast. As luck would have it they were not longer serving breakfast but the special today was chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, mixed vegetables, sweet tea, and German chocolate cake for $8.95. What a deal and IT WAS GOOD! While we were eating I was approached by another customer of the diner and asked where I was headed to on the bike. I explained I was headed to Florida and started in San Diego on a fundraising awareness bike ride for Crohn's Colitis, Colorectal Cancer and Ostomies. The man (Paul Tucker) said he was an avid cyclist who rides frequently in the Midland area and was amazed at the ride I was undertaking. We talked for a while and as we got up to pay our bill, he came up and told us not to worry he had us covered and would not allow us to pay. It has been amazing to me the outpouring of support from complete strangers such as this who are willing to help in any way they can even if it is just to buy lunch. I believe this "grass roots" effort to spread awareness is by far the best way to get our voices heard. It is these so called little people that will get the word out far more effectively than the mass publications can ever do. These are the people whose lives have been touched by everything that we are riding for.

Thank you very much to Paul Tucker of TORQUED-UP Energy Services for the kindness you showed us today!

After lunch we again hit the road. Before long we found ourselves in Odessa. In Odessa we peaked at 3137 feet for the day. I do not know if this is where we happened to come into town but Odessa is not what I was expecting. We were met by long lines of cars and trucks with trailers trying to bring their scrap to the scrap yards and there were a number of scrap yards in this town. It was scrap yard lane for a good mile. Finally, what I was expecting appeared. A bustling town with store fronts and business. I happened across the Central Fire station and had to stop for a patch. I went inside, explained who I was and what I was doing and the secretary handed me a patch and took one of mine in return for their collection. she offered me a tour of the station and took me to a room where a couple of guys were on light duty and asked on of them to give me the grand tour. I was treated to a tour of the station that is only 8 months old and it was quite modern and very well laid out. It was kind of funny to see a partial slide pole sitting on the apparatus floor, that they still had to show the probies and tours of kids what it was like in the old days with fire poles. I said thank you and again I was on the road for the last 15 miles to Midland.

The last 15 miles to Midland by this time of day (4pm) on business loop 20 was very busy and congested. Riding with traffic was getting very difficult and at times aggravating. I did not get a break in the traffic until we hit the residential streets of Midland where I was to rest for the evening.

I arrived around 5pm and looked at the garmin and realised that today was the longest ride I have had to date. 94.64 miles. With that we pulled in, parked the bike and rested for the evening.

The garmin information for today is as follows:

Day 19 Pecos to Midland by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day 18
Guadalupe Mountains National Park to Pecos

Today was very difficult for me, after making such a big climb yesterday, I was really looking forward to the down hill today. The winds this morning have only gotten worse, we stopped at the visitor center to look at the weather station. My dad (Mike) and I were amazed at numbers we were seeing before our eyes, 35-40 MPH sustained winds and the high gust so far this morning was 75 MPH! All this at 8:00am!!

I made the decision to pack up the bike and drive it to Pecos, and if along the way the winds were better I would ride the balance of the day from that point. Needless to say the winds were no better until that evening. So I had to endure a car ride over the route I was supposed to ride, this was more disappointing to me than you can possibly know. I was not ready to risk the ride to try and make an extremely windy day.

Arriving in Pecos was very different than I was expecting, I thought it was a much bigger city than it actually is. The signs welcoming you to town say "Pecos..Home of the worlds first rodeo". We did find a Laundromat to do some laundry, after much searching, and began searching out our options for food.. there did not seem to be many of those.

We stayed in a motel this day to try and get some sleep, which was much needed at this point. Driving around town we finally happened across a restaurant called terrazzos (I think that's the spelling). They actually had a very good Mexican menu, the chips were warm and fresh, and the salsa was awesome!

After dinner I returned to our room to repack clothes wash my water bottles, make up more Gatorade and get ready for tomorrow. Finally we were able to get a good nights rest!

No Garmin data today....more for tomorrows ride!