From Boise to Salt Lake City, aka What’s the Matter With You?

What's the matter with me? Why am I out here by myself saying goodbye to Boise?

What’s the matter with me? Why am I out here by myself saying goodbye to Boise?

Bulls standing in the road, falls in the mud, rugged dirt roads, a swarm of bees, thunder, lightning, overpowering gusts of wind that come out of nowhere, mosquitoes the size of hamsters, clouds of tiny persistent bugs, more flat tires, long stretches of empty road, coffee deprivation, and aching solitude. Just some of the things that come to mind as I think about the week I pedaled from Boise to Salt Lake.

Saying farewell to a newly beardless Dan.

Saying farewell to a newly beardless Dan.

It was really difficult to say goodbye to Boise. Boise had been excellent to me. I loved my hosts, Kristi and Dan. They made me feel so cozy and welcome. They reintroduced me to music, which I hadn’t realized I’d been missing so much.They shared their scotch with me! Of course I didn’t want to leave. But leave I did, and as I was on the road by myself, without Kevin and Sunyoung, outside the city of Boise, I snapped a picture of being on my own again. When I looked at it, I surprised myself with how bewildered and abandoned I looked. A little rattled by the image, I had to remind myself that I’ve done this traveling by myself thing before. Just keep going, it’ll seem normal again soon, I thought. I doubted that, though. I was already missing the coast and the redwoods. I gazed out at the seemingly endless desert and sagebrush, my ribbon of road just disappearing across the horizon, and felt very out of place.

My destination for Wednesday, May 20, was Glenns Ferry, but, as usual, I didn’t get the early start I was hoping for. Wary of the lack of services along my route, I had spent a long time at the grocery store restocking on granola bars and other essentials. Then I made my way to Pleasant Valley Road. The name promised good times, didn’t it? I’m sure it’s very pleasant when it’s paved, but at the time I arrived, all the asphalt was scraped off and construction crews were hard at work. I bounced along and fought the soft dirt and rising dust, almost thinking it would be a relief when Google Maps took me off of the main road and onto a dirt path.

5.20 crummy road

Rough conditions, and only about to get rougher and muddier!

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From Portland to Boise, aka Follow that Cyclist

Kevin and Sunyoung and me doing one of the things we do best!

Kevin and Sunyoung and me doing one of the things we do best!

You’ll have to forgive me, I think this post is going to seem a little vague. The last week of cycling went by in a blur, and honestly I rarely knew exactly where I was. For what is probably a more accurate account of what happened, visit Kevin’s Basses Bikes and Boise!

Anyway, I spent a glorious couple of days relaxing in Portland with wonderful hosts. Despite all the help I got from Sue and Be the Match, Portland CrossFitters did not respond to my requests to hold donor drives at their boxes. Which was a little disappointing, but also kind of nice, since that meant more domestic time under a roof for me. I baked cookies for the family, went on grocery shopping trips, got a little massage, did my laundry, and all those little things were very soothing. Friday May 8th rolled around very quickly, though, and it was time to meet Kevin and Sunyoung at the train station.

Linda calls up the different Be the Match reps in the northwest district and introduces me as a

Linda calls up the different Be the Match reps in the northwest district and introduces me as a “celebrity.” Ha!

I cheated and got a ride into downtown Portland so that I could have time to poke around a bit before the train came in. I dropped in at a CrossFit box to make sure they knew what they were missing out on by not hosting me (just kidding, I’m sure they’re doing their own wonderful things!) and then swung by the Be the Match office unannounced. Linda Alexander, manager of the northwest district, was engaged in an absolute flurry of activity, but once she realized who I was, she squealed and enveloped me in her tornado of energy. Almost immediately she plunked me into a conference call with the other Be the Match contacts in the northwest district. It was great to hear Frances’ voice again and to get to talk to John, whose email I had recently blown up with plans for Boise. Continue reading

From Eureka to Portland, aka You’re Going the Wrong Way

He learnt to communicate with birds and discovered that their conversation was fantastically boring. It was all to do with wind speed, wing spans, power-to-weight ratios and a fair bit about berries. Unfortunately, he discovered, once you have learnt birdspeak you quickly come to realize that the air is full of it the whole time, just inane bird chatter. There is no getting away from it.  – Life, the Universe, and Everything by Douglas Adams

At the risk of having you all experience what Arthur Dent went through when he learnt birdspeak, I’m going to talk a lot about what it’s like to pedal north, or as I like to call it, The Wrong Way, along the Pacific coast. You’ve been warned.

So last I left off, I was sitting in Eureka, trying to get people registered as potential new bone marrow donors. The people at Cal Courts were amazingly friendly, and we got over a dozen people to register! I tried to get a wod in, but people kept wanting to swab, so I very happily did that instead. The next morning, Tuesday April 28th, I dropped in on Humboldt CrossFit and got a few more people after they completed their wod. I was sad to leave Eureka, but it was time to ship the swab kits back to San Francisco and get back on the bike.

As I was leaving my Motel 6, a lady in the parking lot told me to take lots of pictures. I was heading for some incredibly picturesque places! I was a little behind schedule, and I wondered if I would be able to visit Patrick’s Point as originally planned. But I figured that I would regret it if I didn’t spend time there, so I made camp early at Patrick’s Point and took myself for a nice hike. And I’m so very glad I did. If you’ve never been to Patrick’s Point and are able to, you must go.

A panoramic shot of some of the beauty found at Patrick's Point.

A panoramic shot of some of the beauty found at Patrick’s Point.

There are all kinds of interesting rock formations, sea stacks, secret little beaches, and incredibly varied and super dense forest. The trails are clearly marked, but also rugged enough to give you the feeling that you’re off on a wilderness adventure. I took a small bottle of wine with me and found a little outcrop to sit and reflect. Continue reading

From Sunnyvale to Eureka

It is surreal to think that I am currently fulfilling one of my childhood dreams while tragedy has struck Nepal. Events like this make me realize just how small we are and how brief our time here is. So grab your opportunities when they come! If anyone hasn’t made their donation yet to help, I am a big fan of Foundation Beyond Belief.

So today I am at Cal Courts in Eureka to meet the CrossFitters there and hopefully inspire them to join the Be the Match registry! I’ve been talking to people on the road about Be the Match and everyone has been incredibly supportive, but this is my first arranged meeting! Frances sent swab kits up, and I’m super excited to get them distributed to new potential marrow donors. Wish me luck!

But I suppose I should do a summary of the first week on the road. It has been such an incredible week.

Erik, Lori, and Sue accompanied me for the start of my journey.

Erik, Lori, and Sue accompanied me for the start of my journey.

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The First Three Days

Well, I need a new post up here, that’s obvious. But I’m really exhausted.

So the short story is: I’ve cycled from Sunnyvale to Anchor Bay, California. That’s 176 miles. I’ve slept very little, because I’m not good at sleeping in new places. It’s one thing I knew would be a challenge, but something I figure my body will just have to learn.

It’s been gorgeous, it’s been challenging, there have been headwinds, I’m not as far along as I’d like to be, and I stupidly climbed Mt. Tam my first day. My bike weighs more than 80 pounds.

And now I’m getting into my hammock to see if I can actually sleep. More later!

Hammock Test in Big Basin

My friends Kat and Hai-Yue are the cutest. They have been wanting to go camping for a while, and after several weeks of conflicting schedules, we finally made it! Unfortunately, it had to be a short trip, but still totally fun!

I was originally planning on cycling to the campsite, but lack of time made that impractical. Instead, my focus was to just have a good time and to try out the camping hammock that Ed and Lauren had given me for my birthday.

Lauren told me that she had gotten in contact with this guy who helped start the non-profit Bike the US for MS. She asked him what was one piece of equipment that he found invaluable, and he told her his hammock. So she and Ed got me a hammock! The idea is that with this hammock, I could leave the tent at home.

Well, I’m a bit a skeptical. I’ve dealt with hammocks a lot in the past. And I have to say that falling out of hammocks is a thing. Continue reading

To Folsom!

It was time to do a longer solo trip to really work out the kinks of bicycle travel, so I decided to go to Folsom.

Yup, that Folsom.

I hear the train a comin’
It’s rollin’ ’round the bend,
And I ain’t seen the sunshine
Since, I don’t know when
I’m stuck in Folsom Prison
And time keeps draggin’ on
But that train keeps a-rollin’
On down to San Antone

– Johnny Cash

Why Folsom? Back in my student teaching days, I made a friend in Felton named Molly. She just recently started a teaching job at a continuation school in Rancho Cordova and moved into a house in Folsom. I really wanted to see her classroom and hang out with her a bit and just get to know what her new life is all about. She’s gone through some difficult times, to put it mildly, and I’m just happy that things are going so well for her now.

Of course, I wouldn't be starting in San Francisco.

Just a small section of the Western Express Route. Of course, I wouldn’t be starting in San Francisco.

Fortunately, the Western Express Route, a quicker route across the US than the TransAmerica Route, goes right through Folsom, and I just happen to have those maps! It was too perfect: a fantastic opportunity to explore an Adventure Cycling route, and a route that went along the American River Trail, no less! I love the American River. I used to go whitewater kayaking on the American River quite a lot, so that river is filled with precious memories for me. Continue reading