The  Idea


Pledging &  Training

Day -33    (May 11)
I can relax. I just crossed over the $7k line   for Big Ride pledges just yesterday. (Whew!) It’s been a long road, punctuated   by periodic highlights – Janine’s $500 contribution, Larry, George &   my parents each contributing $250, and Pat’s help. The polo shirt promotion helped  raise the level of contributions to $100 (free polo shirt with logo for contributions at  that level or above). I’ve purchased 24 such shirts (most of which have been  given away) and will put in another order for 24 more, soon. The polo shirts set me back  about $600, but I’d rather pay $600 and get $7k, as opposed to not paying the $600  and coming up several thousand short.
        Fund raising came in fits and  starts. The biggest fit was while I was sick with a bacterial infection (two steps  from walking pneumonia). I was home from work, sick, for the nearly all of a week.  Not many pledges were raised during that period of time. But I kept at it, gradually  chipping away at folks, spreading the word, kissing babies and twisting arms. It has been  an interesting experience to see how people react to my fund raising efforts and the   BIG RIDE. You think you know people. Well, the truth is, you don’t know people until  you ask them to donate money. I’ve gotten responses that range all over the  board:
        "Wow, what a great  cause. How can I help?" – My favorite response, and received more often than I  would have initially imagined.
        "Yeah, put me down for a  $100" – Collecting was a little more difficult, but generally accomplished,  through repeated contact.
        "I’m planning on  contributing, but I don’t know how much I’ll be able to donate." – Most  people using this response never raised the issue again and ducked me in the hallways at   work – repeatedly.
        "I give so much  now." – Many probably did.
        "The American Lung  Association isn’t one of my charities" – How about supporting my efforts  instead?
        "Things are pretty tight  at home," or "I don’t have enough now!" – If they contributed, I   was glad for their support – at any level. If they didn’t contribute, I always  thought that they could spare just $10 (geez, pack a lunch for a couple of days). Such  people need to learn about saving for a rainy day! (or a BIG RIDE!)
        I knew that I wouldn’t  be getting contributions from everyone, but I was surprised at the lengths people  went to avoid contact. A simple "no" would have been preferred, but I got a  barrage of excuses, some real, some contrived. One simple generality stood out.  Those that could afford the most to give (on an apparent basis – senior staff  members, people driving fancy cars, etc.) didn’t. Those that could afford to give the least   (hourly wage earners, etc.), did give and gave with a true generosity of heart. It   has been an interesting process. (One not likely to be repeated again, anytime   soon.)
        I've been training also.  I’m almost resentful of the amount of time that training has taken. A 40-50 mile  ride on Saturday, followed by the same (or more) on Sunday leaves very little of the  weekend left (and no energy) to do shopping, cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc. I’ve put   nearly 750 miles on my new bike and have accumulated over 1000 miles of bike training since  starting in January. Some hard, all long. My knees suffered, until I got fit  properly to my bike. Raise the seat – ride 50 miles. Lower the seat – ride 50  miles. Two days of knee pain in between. Gradually, I got things adjusted. And, just when I  thought it was safe, I rode Lion’s Trail (for the 3rd time) – a 3,500-foot  elevation gain in about 9 miles – and came home with a new knee pain just last  Saturday. Then, to top it off, I went for an 80-mile ride the next day. "Ouch, ouch,  ouch," went my knee, at each revolution. It’s tender and I’m off of it this  week. The "Little-Big" ride (the 3-day local lung ride, over at the  coast) is coming up this weekend. I’ll test it again then.
        I’m worried. I’m nearly 40 and paying the price for it, it seems.  I’ll never just be able to hop on a bike, or hit the ski slopes, or backpack, without  having to nurse, curse and open my purse. Getting old sucks.

The  Little "Big Ride"

Day -30 (May  14)
The   Local American Lung Association 'Lung' ride.  We're riding on the bus after having met  and registered at Cal State Bakersfield at 7am this morning.  80 riders, plus  friends, support and gear crew members, and others congested a relatively quiet end of the parking  lot.  After registering, we handed over our bikes to be loaded into two Ryder rental  trucks.  Bikes are stacked several deep and about 8-10 bikes wide inside these  utility trucks, separated by packing blankets.  We hopped on the bus after  consuming some quality nutritional snacks (donuts and juice).  We also got a speech before  we left (Sharon loves the megaphone).  Her advice:
        "It's the 10th year  anniversary for this ride," she said, to wide applause, "and this is going  to be the first year that nobody gets lost!  For everyone of the  nine preceding rides, we've had to hunt someone down.  Not this year.  Got   it?" 
        And with that rousing pep  talk, we boarded two buses, took a couple of victory laps around the Cal State parking lots   (getting buses out of Cal State took some maneuvering) and sped our way to Paso   Robles.  It looks like it might be that kind of a ride (one where someone gets lost).  The  crowd of riders appears very diverse.  Good riders, poor riders, and first-time  riders. 
        This is Pat's first  ride.  She probably won't get lost though.  She's nervous, but happy.  There are a   bunch of people going from work (OXY) - Misty, Caren, Mike,
Pat, myself, George  and Dennis.   Quite a motley crew.
        This local lung ride is a  world away from the BIG RIDE.  The local lung ride is touted as being the only ride  where people actually GAIN weight!  Three days.  About forty miles the first day   (Paso Robles to Cambria).  I'm not sure yet what the other two days will   offer.  The food, however, is supposed to be great, plentiful and often.
        We just turned onto  Interstate 5, heading north off of Stockdale highway.  There is Elk Hills (where many of us OXY   people work) off to our left.  Such satisfaction knowing that it is a Friday and  other (poor slobs) are working.  They will not be enjoying the experience that we'll  be having today.   Of course, many are probably thankful of that fact. 
        Cement highways are very  bumpy.  I wonder how 'they' decide which highways will be made of cement and which of  asphalt.   Asphalt roads are much smoother.
        The buses arrive in Paso  Robles after stopping at a highway rest-stop for a lunch of sandwiches and chips.  We  park in a supermarket parking lot and spill out of the buses.  Our bikes had arrived   first and had already been unloaded (no doubt, while we were scarfing down sandwiches).   Bikes were strewn about the parking lot in a prone position, on blankets.  It looked  like a battlefield full of fallen soldiers.  Chaos ensued, as everyone moved their  personal belongings from the underbelly of each bus and into the empty Ryder trucks.   Everyone suited up and left on the route as soon as they were ready.  The road out of  town was narrow, winding and uphill.  With the narrow road and the auto traffic, it  was too crazy to notice the landscape.  I spent most of my time trying to keep as  far right as possible, without running off the road.  I began with Pat and  Misty, but gradually pulled away, chugging up the hill.

Today is to be a test of my   right knee, still tender from last weekend's rides.  If I can ride these three days  without pain, then no doctor visit and no worries.  If not, I'll have to visit the  doctor and continue to worry about being able to complete the BIG RIDE. 
        Air temperature is  nice.  Sunny and a beautiful spring day.  Leaving Paso Robles, we continue to climb  and traffic thins considerably.  I'm riding alone now, for a ways, then pass a group  of riders whom I don't know real well.  They make fun of my panniers and all the   gear that I'm hauling, still having enough strength to pass.  (I tell them not to  be fooled, "My panniers are filled with Styrofoam peanuts!") 
        The first SAG stop is about 8  miles into the ride, at the top of the steady climb that we have been enduring out of  Paso Robles.   I eat a banana and wait for Pat.  She and Misty are nowhere to be   seen.   After waiting 5 minutes, then 10, I decide to keep moving forward.  There  was a 'more difficult' route option out of Paso Robles, but things were so confused  in the parking lot, I missed it.  I'm on the path followed by most riders.
        A nice downhill and I'm  winding amongst farms and ranches in the Coastal Range.  Periodic sweeping views of the   surrounding hills, pastures, cows (at whom I "moo"), and an abundant assortment  of wildflowers - sweet peas, lupine, wild pansies, thistles, etc.
        The second SAG stop came too   quickly.  I stop to say 'hi' to a few unknowns, field a few questions about the BIG  RIDE (most people know I'm going) and then I clip in and am on the road again.  At  the third SAG stop, at mile 18 or so, I hook up with some of my training friends.  They  had taken the more difficult ride option out of Paso Robles and were just getting  ready to head out again.  I joined them, missing out on caramel apples and a brief  rest.
        We hook up to highway 46,  riding on the wide shoulder, but are passed by many speeding cars.  Not a pleasant  ride segment.   Cars and trucks are noisy and cause me to be ever watchful for the   ever-possible idiot driver.  After a few miles of this, we come to the fourth and final  SAG.   We deviate off of the official route, by heading up Santa Rosa Creek road.    This is a great bike road, but very steep in a couple of places and not made of  the best pavement.  It does, however, have spectacular views, few cars, and  is a very scenic byway past farms, vineyards, and sun-dappled creek.  Along this  detour, we see deer and wild turkeys.  Larry gets a flat.  Patty has to pee,  scares up a couple of dogs (who scare her into NOT going).  The dogs come out to visit  the rest of the riders and then try to pee on MY bike!  (Guess it must be a  territorial thing).   The road is so steep that many end up walking.  I'm in my  lowest gear, on my seat and with each pedal-stroke, the front tire is lifted off of the  ground.  That's steep!
        We stop for pie at a small fruit-stand/gift-shop and roll into Cambria School in good order.   The wind has picked up in the last 1/2 hour, but we keep a brisk 18mph pace into  camp.  A few riders are there already, but we are among the first in.  We set up  our tents in the increasingly stronger wind.  By the time I set up the tent, grab a   shower and head back - Pat makes it in.  She rode nearly the whole way, getting  'sagged' only 5 miles up the steepest portion. 
        Dinner in the cold  wind.  Tri-tip, BBQ chicken, salads and strawberry shortcake.  Pat is beat.  We  head to bed right after dinner.  We do take a quick walk to a nearby meadow.  We   sit and listen to quail, wild turkey, mourning doves and other birds.  We watch the  sun set.
        It's now 8:33 and I write in  waning light.   The wind has died down.  Nearly half of the riders are  staying in hotels (the 'fu-fu' crowd) and a quarter of the riders have moved their tents into   the gymnasium to avoid the wind.  About 15 tents are left scattered about the   football field.   We're pitched off some distance from the others.  It is   quiet.  Crickets chirp.  Time for bed.  My knee feels good and I am   relieved.  We have a choice of either 40 or 70 miles tomorrow. 
        Postscript - Tonight was the  first field-test of my BIG RIDE tent (Kelty Streamside).  It went up find in the  wind and held firm.   Other tents, with higher profiles, were blown away.  One   even collapsed on itself in the wind, despite being securely anchored, the roof just  bending to the floor with each strong gust. 

STATS (at 7:58   PM)  - 54BAF, 40.5 mi., 12.3 mph avg., 35.9 mph max, 3:16 ride time.

Day -29 (May  15)
We wake up   to ice on our tents!   Cyclometer registers 32BAF.  We leave the school at  about 7am and head into Cambria proper.  We convene for breakfast, taking over a local  eatery.  There aren't enough tables and chairs to go around and getting nearly 80  riders plus regulars through breakfast takes longer than we had anticipated.  I  opt for the 70-mile ride and head off, by myself, north on highway 1 out of  Cambria.  I go north for about 15 miles, past Hearst Castle and to the lighthouse.   There is a slight headwind the whole way there.  A beautiful ride up the coast.   I turn around at the lighthouse and head back.  Past Hearst Castle, into Cambria,  out of Cambria, back on Hwy. 1.  I see beaches littered with sleeping sea lions and  people inching close to get photos (why can't they just let these sleeping 'dogs' lie?)
        Knee pain at mile 30.  I  eat a couple of Advil and keep going. No time to stop on the BIG RIDE.  I have a  beer in Cayucos and then it's into Morro Bay, continuing on Hwy. 1.  At Morro Bay, the   route takes me into town and out through Morro Bay State park.  I follow South Bay  Road to Turrey road, Los Osos to Foothill and then into San Luis Obispo.
        In Cayucos, I'm greeted with,  "Are you the last one?" from the SAG staff.
        "No, you idiots," I  think to myself, "I'm the first one back from the lighthouse run!"  I  mumble a "no" and down my beer.  I caught up to Mike, Caren and  the 'gang' in Cayucos, but they moved on while I was quaffing my brew.  I also  missed Misty and Pat in Morro Bay (which I hit around lunch-time).  I was hoping to  catch up to them, my desire to pedal slower being driven by my stabbing knee pain.  I   skipped lunch, since I hate to eat by myself.
        The remainder of the ride was  accompanied by Mr. Knee Pain.  It was intermittent, actually.  It must be an  irritated tendon or ligament.  I hear (feel?) a 'popping' sound on each  stroke.  It is tender to the touch, but no pain felt off of the bike.
        I got hoots and hollers from  a car full of girls in San Luis Obispo.  (Damn.  I got all flustered and  missed the turn, adding another 4 miles to my painful ride!)  Damn windy at the end  of the day.   I made it to the Royal Oak Inn, but not after an unnecessary 3 miles   into the raging headwind.  I believed I said a four letter word along that   route! 
        Pat and I are in room  159.  We ate a catered Mexican dinner by the pool.  It would have been great, but  it was still damn windy and now cold!  We ate our meals hurriedly and then bolted for  an after-dinner drink over at Applebee's, across the street, to warm up.  Wally and   Dale were zinging one liners at each other, but Wally got the upper hand when Dale tried  to flirt with a younger woman.  "You've heard of assault with a   dead weapon?" Wally asked the girl, in reference to Dale's age and   corresponding "problems".  The group of 12 howled.
        Off to bed.  Tired.
        STATS -   73.2 mi., 13.6 mph avg., 36.9 mph max, 5:21 ride time.

Day -28 (May  16)
Woke up and were on the road, out of the hotel, by about 7 am.  We had 12 miles  to go before we reached 'Brads', our breakfast stop along the coast.  Misty, Pat  and I rode together.   I'm taking it easy, after experiencing knee pain on my 70-mile  ride yesterday.   I have a neoprene knee sock on my right knee, courtesy of Pat,  and my goal is to see if this helps.  The 12 miles before breakfast go quickly,   though there are a few short hills before we make it into town.
        We eat breakfast with Douglas  and John Elliot (Bakersfield's local, Channel 17 newscaster).  John interviews me  after breakfast for a segment to run on the local news.  Douglas, Misty, Pat & I   head out of town together.  We ride out and around the local wineries, stopping at  one to sample some Chardoney and rest.  Back on the road and Pat is feeling some pain  in her knees.   She finally decides to SAG the rest of the way and I strike out  on my own for the remainder of the 32-mile ride.  A couple of steep hills lie in wait  at the very end, but those conquered, riders re-convene in San Luis Obispo for a catered  lunch and post-ride festivities.  Then it's on the bus for the ride back to  Bakersfield.   A fun three-day ride!

Counting  Down

Day -19 (May  25)
The money has been raised.  I’m off of work, using my accumulated vacation, preparing for the ride. There are a  myriad of things that need to be done before I leave, not the least of which is figuring out  how to get rid of this knee pain when I ride! Three weekends ago, the afternoon of my last  "Lion’s Trail" ride, I started experiencing pain in my right knee. The  following day I took my first Woody-Granite to Shafter ride (75 mi) and it was a killer,  because of this pain. It feels like an abrasion that takes place on each pedal stroke. I get a  sharp twinge of pain as my leg is straightening out on the downstroke. Not a lot, but  its there at each stroke. Shifting my feet doesn’t seem to help and while it’s   worse on inclines, I still feel it on downhills. I popped some Advil and kept going, after  a while it seemed to abate, somewhat.
        Off the bike, my knee is  fine. I can do squats, run up stairs, stand, twist – no pain, although the juncture  between the right of my knee-cap, the tibia and the fibia is very tender to the touch.
        I stayed off of it for the  week preceding the coastal lung ride. The first day of the ride, it felt fine (40 miles,  some VERY steep climbs). I was encouraged and thought that the problem had passed. The  next day, I opted for the 75-mile route and coming back from the lighthouse just north of   San Simeon (30 miles into the ride, with a tail-wind, breathing easy and cruising along  at 18-20 mph) it started again. It stayed with me all day, though at times it seemed like  only a mild problem. I was very concerned about the last day’s ride and I  borrowed Pat’s neoprene knee brace. The brace seemed to help and I didn’t feel a  twinge all day.
        I made an appointment to see  a doctor at Kaiser. His recommendation was to take an anti-inflammatory (Naproxen),  rest and only pedal on flat terrain. I took the pills, took a week off from training  and then did another Woody-Granite to Shafter ride. Twenty miles into the ride, the  pain started. (I no longer had Pat’s neoprene knee brace, so I ate Advil and kept   going.) The next day, I used a new knee brace that I purchased and did another flat ride (40  miles) to Shafter and back at a pretty quick pace. The brace helped, but didn’t entirely  eliminate the problem.  (Oh boy, THIS is what the BIG   RIDE is going to feel like? Ouch!)  Back to Kaiser. This time  X-rays (no structural problems). And now physical therapy.  I have two weeks before I   leave. Let’s hope physical therapy will help!
       Worked on the front flower  garden area. Clean out roots and dirt. Add a brick retaining wall, lay down garden fabric  (to keep the weeds from popping up), plant some junipers (to deter kids, dogs and cats from   playing in the garden), lay down bark and water. A full day’s work.

Day -6 (Jun 8)
I left Bakersfield, CA on Jun 4th.  Said my good-byes to my girlfriend and  other friends.   Some colleagues at work had a 'going-away' happy-hour at a local  hangout the night before I left.  I've not been training the past couple of weeks,  resting the tendonitis in my right knee and stretching instead.  I feel guilty  as hell!    I've ordered the last of my equipment, including tent  stakes (the kind that don't bend), film and a 15"x15"x36" waterproof  gear-bag.  My packed weight is under the prescribed 70lbs (I weigh in at 60), but of course,   I'll be carrying a few extra pounds in my panniers.
        I drove to my parents house  outside of Chico.   I've been visiting, testing ways to communicate while on the road  and doing some last-minute gear checking and bike tweaking (cleaning, repairing and   tuning).  I'm carrying Ted Ralphs bike with me to Seattle for him, so I've been in  contact with him on occasion.  I've been reading the Big Ride email posts and hear the  desperate pleas from some riders that are several thousand dollars short of reaching  their goal.  The countdown has begun.
        A wrinkle.  I went  property hunting while at my parents house, looking for a suitable early-retirement home, with   property.   This is something that I've wanted to do for sometime.  We   looked at a few places, but I really found something special right at the end of the  same street off of which my parents live.  It is a 5-acre property, with a 2,400  square foot home, right on the Sacramento River.  Built in the 1960's, the home has a  second-story bedroom and bath, living room with wood stove insert, newly remodeled kitchen, 

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View from the back patio of the Sacramento River,   near Chico.

dining areas   overlooking the river and property, master bedroom with stained glass windows and a loft, a  wood-paneled river-room overlooking the river and a flagstone patio with steps leading down to  the water's edge.   It also has a carport, artist's studio on the river, greenhouse,  shop, commercial well and storage tank (7hp pump) and four flat and usable acres.   It's at the end of a cul-de-sac with nice surrounding properties.  They are asking  $255,000 (reduced from $325k).  I've offered $215, with a long escrow period because  of the BIG RIDE.   The asking price is $100k more than what I was budgeting for a  retirement home, but it is such a one-of-a-kind property that I think it is worth   stretching.  (Of course, this means that I'll be working for another year.  Bummer.)   The owners are a lovely elderly couple that have lived there for 26 years.  We'll  see how they respond to the offer. 


Check-In (June 13)

   Early in the morning, borrowing a computer from college friends (Kurt & Kim) in Redmond, WA.  I'm now a registered BIG RIDER! Registered in downtown Seattle at about 1:30 pm.  Only about 25% of the riders had registered at that point.   It took only a few minutes to do paperwork, drop off last-minute pledges (total was over $8500!), get my rider bracelet (with rider number 68- to be worn at all times), and drop off my bike.  My bike looked kind of lonely on temporary bike rack in the hotel basement; it was the only one down there!  Kurt and I couldn't figure out where the other bikes were, if 25% of the riders had purportedly registered already.  (There was some bike assembly going on in the parking lot).  With that last bit of anxiety, I left my bike, panniers and road-gear as the solitary, first-sentinel in that concrete cavern.

    Time has become compressed over the past few days as the ride approaches.  I had my first flat tire on my bike, after 1200 training miles without a problem, at my parent's house on a short test-ride.  A piece of glass dug in past the tire to the tube, ruining both.   A bad omen?  I made the drive into Chico to get a replacement, but the store ( who said they had 5 of the tires I needed) couldn't find the tire!  (Another bad omen?)  I got two other tires (which the owner said would add at least 1 mph to my average speed) and will use those.  I need all the extra speed I can get.  They are lighter tires.

    I bought the house!  Settled on a $235,000 price (plus I bought the tractor and implements for $2,500).  Great.  Now I've got that to worry about.  Guess that means Brian will be seeing my smiling face back at OXY for a while to earn enough money to help pay for this money pit.  It sure is a pretty location, being right on the river. 

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Artist's Studio- Pat's Loom Room-overlooking the River.

I found out that the Nature Conservancy owns the land across the river from the home.   This is great news because it implies that there will not be any development there and Pat and I will have unobstructed views.  This only heightens the value of the property.  I signed the evening before my departure, having halted negotiations by turning down the seller's final offer ($243,000) the day before.  The real estate agent gave up nearly $10k to make the deal go through.  Here is a photo of the artist's studio, which also overlooks the river.  This property is more than I can afford, but it sure is a pretty neat place!

                            Back to the ride:

      I left my parents house on Friday morning at 5 am.  Drove the 650 miles to Seattle and arrived at

Kurt and Kim's house at 4 pm.  Hit traffic around Portland, OR and Tacoma all the way into, through and around Seattle.  Other than that, the trip was uneventful.   BBQ dinner with my old friends from

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The Easthouse Family

UC Davis days.  I was the best man at their wedding, Kurt was my roommate for sophomore and junior years, plus was a

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Scott is ready to go!

geology department buddy.  Kim, I knew in high school, briefly, because her family moved to Modesto before she graduated.  She spotted me in the student union in Davis during my junior year, invited Kurt and I over for dinner with herself and her roommate.   We had fun at dinner, ended up in a big cupcake fight (the second of only two food fights I experienced in college).  The rest, as they say, is history.


    Went hiking Saturday morning in a nearby forest (which in Seattle, could have been north, east, or south of the city.  (Later:  found out it was "Tradition Lake") Sunny and warm.  Not the drizzly,

rainy Seattle that I had been anticipating.  After a lunch at Kurt's house, we drove into Seattle to register.  After registering, we rode the monorail into the downtaown area, found an outdoor cafe and sipped beer as we caught up, swapped stories and watched passerbys.  (Saw an old lady pulling a rabbitt around in a toy wagon!)  That drew some comments from other patrons.  Went to the ALA of Washington for a small reception, where Kurt and I met several of the riders.  It was a small crowd, with only a portion of the 25% that have checked in so far, attending.  Met riders from

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Reception for the Big Riders at the local ALA office.

Oregon, Illinois, Germany, Texas, New York, Nevada and Washington.  I don't think I met two people that were from the same state! 

    Met Kim and the kids at Fisherman's terminal at Salmon Bay for dinner.  Kurt and Kim have walkie-talkies to communicate.  Kim reached us while we were driving toward the piers, told us that there was a 70-minute wait at the restaurant, so we madealternative plans and ended up eating at a fast-food fish place on the wharf.  Kim had to turn the walkie-talkie off because Kurt and I were having fun playing 'Spacehip to Houston, come in Houston' over the device! ( Which proves that technology can be as much fun as it is practical!!)  To bed early.


Days 1-3 (June 14-16)

   Well, it has seemed like an eternity since Day 1.  I can't really send real time journal entries while pedaling up and down (mostly UP) theCascade Mountains in Washington State, so I will give Pat the dubious task of penning some of my most memorable moments and experiences.  (Here goes!-Pat)

    I heard from Scott briefly on Monday morning.  He was waiting to depart from the hotel in Seattle.  The organizers were sending them off in waves to eliminate crowding and potential road hazards.  He and Ted were among those pulling up the rear.  The fact that he talked non-stop indicated to me that he was both nervous and excited about getting started.  I know camp in Easton that night was 81 miles away and mostly uphill.  Too late to turn back now!

    Unfortunately, I didn't hear from Scott all day on Monday, June 14.   That meant that either he couldn't find a phone or he was too pooped to try.   Not to worry though, he eventually called while taking a lunch break on Tuesday in Ellensburg.

    He had a tough first day, everyone did.  The weather was so hot, over 98 degrees most of the way, that they ran out of water by the time they climbed the major pass out of Seattle.  Even the SAG vans ran out of water.  No one expected the temperatures to be even in the 90's this time of year!  The heat combined with insufficient food during theday resulted in a very uncomfortable ride.  The tendonitis in his knee was bothering him, but the knee brace helped.  He was concerned about his legs cramping and they were sore enough by the time he rolled into camp, not to walk too far to find a phone to call home.  Understandable!

    Woke up in the hotel at 3:30 AM...not by choice.  I had left a wakeup call for 5:00 AM, but woke up early, concerned about missing THE RIDE!
    Tried to sleep more, and did, I think - only to wake up to the phone.  A quick shower, shave and packing of gear.  I hauled the gear down to a waiting van, then hoofed it over to the hotel that the bikes were stored at.  I stowed gear into the large gear truck, from the van, then headed down to the Seattle Center

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Breakfast in the Seattle Center.   Anxious Riders about to begin the ride of their lives!

for breakfast and the exiting ceremonies (which weren't much to speak of, really).
    I left with Ted Ralphs.  We were the last to leave, right at the same time the "Dream Machine" left.  (The Dream Machine is a small, towable trailer that is carrying the names of people suffering from lung disease.   The dream is to eradicate lung disease and the trailer is a way of taking these people with us.  The trailer follows all of the riders and is always the last one into camp.)
    We rode through the streets of Seattle along the waterfront and then into the suburbs.  City streets to start, with rush hour traffic, then onto a complex network of bike paths.  We left Seattle, across the floating bridge, then into the Redmond area.  We passed right by the Walmart that I visited with Kurt and Kim just 2 days ago!  Finally, we made our way onto I-90 and about a 20 mile climb to Snoqualamie Pass.  It is nearly a 3000 foot climb and instead of rain, we were greeted with

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The fountain is correographed to music.  There was classical music playing at the time.  Seattle Center

hot sun.  The weather was nice early, but it turned quite hot on the climb (98 degrees is what my cyclometer read.)
    I was doing fine until near the top of the climb, when I began flirting with leg cramps- despite the amount of liquid I was ingesting.  I got sick of drinking water and Gatorade.  But, I continued anyway, knowing what the consequenses would be if I did not.  I think my problem (besides not enough training) was failing to stop and eat lunch.  I ate at the SAGs, as much as I could, devouring fruit, pretzels, bananas, gorp, etc....but, I really could have downed a hamburger or (better yet) ice cream.
    I slowed my pace, practiced "bonk-management" and limped into camp at about 4:30 PM.  One long day.  And to think I wasn't worried about Day 1....worried more about Days 2 and 3.  Now I'm REALLY worried about Days 2 and 3!!
    I went to bed very early after a shower, laundry, pannier removal and a dinner of tacos and lemonade (I am sick of drinking fluids!).
    STATS:    8:55 PM     84 degrees F
                      76 mi            11.4 mph ave.          40 mph max            6:38 hr. ride time
(Note:  Official mileage was 80 mi, my odometer is low because it was not recalibrated after adding new tires)

    When he called from Ellensburg at noon on Day 2 (Easton to Vantage-68 miles) he sounded in good spirits.  He decided to have more than a Power Bar for lunch that day, hoping that it would keep his legs from cramping and his energy level up (it worked).  The ride that morning was nice, but he had more long climbs to face in the afternoon.  The head winds were grueling and they didn't let up all night.  Scott didn't get much sleep that night - kept wondering if his tent would hold up to gale force winds.  It wasn't windy enough to keep many of the riders from enjoying the pool at the KOA campground.   The water had to have felt good in the heat they were experiencing.  He managed a pretty early start on Wednesday despite it all.

    Now, I have been pretty faithful in keeping the website banners, weather and route maps up to date, but I ran into AOL server difficulties on Wednesday, June 16, and was unable to upload any changes.  SinceAOL would only speak to Scott concerning the difficulties (and for some reason they didn't believe that I was Scott), it took most of the day to get it fixed.  By the end of the day, we were back in business.

      I don't have a watch, so I didn't know what time to get up.  No worries, being an early riser.  I was well hydrated last night (peed 4 times!).  Is there such a thing as too hydrated?! (There actually is, but it would be rare) 
   I kept waiting for the generator running the bathroom lights to turn off.  It never did.  I managed to sleep OK, given the fact that it was the first night in a tent.
   I woke up and quickly packed gear.  I stowed my rain proof bag on the gear truck, then went to fill up my three water bottles.  I went to breakfast after that (runny eggs, cold cereal, hot cereal, and juice).  Not enough food.
   I left at 6:30 AM.  It was a beautiful ride off of the highway (I-90) through farmland.  I saw lots of barns, cows and the like.  The air temperature was cool...wore my rain parka for some distance.  The bike was lighter without the panniers, but not noticibly so.
   I rode with Cindy most of the morning.  She is from NYC (NEW YORK CITY?! -too many salsa commercials-pat) currently a paralegal and fitness instructor, preparing for law school.  We rode together past flowers, trees, streams and farms.  What a beautiful morning.  We ran into one woman walking her bike.   I asked her what was wrong and she said, "I have to pee soo bad, but I'm afraid of rattlesnakes."  She was from the east coast and is taking the camp warning a bit far!  I assured her that it was OK and she eventually found a bush somewhere.
   We stopped for lunch in Ellensburg and had a hamburger, fries and chocolate shake. Mmmm Good!  We had come 42 miles and only had (reportedly) 24 more to go.
   What a wicked 24 miles!  We left Ellensburg around 11:30 AM.   It was starting to get hot and the wind was starting to blow.  We had to join I-90 again over the summit in a light, brisk headwind.  The wind picked up as we climbed.  Ten miles of climbing in a hot (99 degrees) headwind.  Bike 2 miles, drink water, rest, bike 2 more...  We finally made the summit at about 2:30 PM.   We rested and then enjoyed a downhill into the Columbia River Gorge at Vantage, WA.   We camped at a KOA campground (with a pool!).  We were served a great dinner- chicken, salsbury steak,salad, potatoes, and cobbler.
   The wind shifted after dinner from an east to a west wind, picking up intensity and is now blowing quite a gale as I write this in waning light.   This wind is wreaking havoc on tents and gear, but people are pitching in to help.   It is just another ice-breaker and Big Ride memory!
   I came close to cramping today, but not a full-on cramp like yesterday.  My knee still hurts as I ride, but I folded over the top of my neoprene brace to relieve my leg from chafing.  I found $6 in quarters on the road and donated it to the volunteer massuese that gave me a backrub at the summit!
   STATS:   9:32 PM      77 degrees F
                      73.3 mi           11.7 mph ave.             35.2 mph max.         6:16 hrs. riding time
                      Windy as Hell!  Howling and saltation (?-can't read his writing-pat) of sand on the tent.

    Scott had another tough day on Wednesday -Day 3 (Vantage to Odessa- 82 miles).  The temperatures were still way above normal, in the high 90's and the climbs were still very long.  Many riders are taking advantage of the SAG vans to get them past the most difficult parts of the ride. I am proud to say that Scott has made every inch of the way so far!  He walked a mile and a half that night after rolling into camp in Odessa to call me.  Alas, I missed his call even though I usually have the phone on and glued to me throughout the day.  I was so depressed!   Fortunately, he mingled with some locals and called again.  He related a story about how kind the folks are in Odessa.  He had walked into a local shop to use the phone just as this woman was closing up.  He asked her where a nice shady phone booth might be and she offered to drive him to one across town.  Her memory must have failed, though, because the phone booth was not where she thought it was.  She ended up driving Scott back across town to another phone booth.  Since that phone booth was occupied, he decided to visit the grocery store and pick up a few things for lunch the next day.  He ran into the kind woman again in the checkout line at the store.   Seems she and the checkout lady were meeting later for a few beers!  Odessa is a small community; nice, friendly folks.

    It as windy all night!  I didn't sleep a wink.   Several people had to re-pitch their tents to keep them upright.  Everyone pitched in. (no pun intended) 
   I got up exhausted and packed.  I rode my bike to breakfast, which was great! (Sausage, oatmeal, yogurt, fresh fruit, bagels, OJ, etc)  I ate as much as I could anf left between 6:30 and 6:45 AM across the bridge and up the basalt cliffs.  Very interesting "wild horses" sculpture at the top, I took photos.  It was a cool morning, but the wind was still raging at the KOA and across the bridge.  It was quite still on the 10 mile climb up the cliff, which I took fairly slowly.  I am not sure how I'll do since I'm so tired.  I rode with various people in the morning and by myself.  On top of the basalt cliff, we were greeted by lush, irrigated pasturelands and alfalfa fields.  I saw lots of SAGs in the morning (many more than I saw yesterday afternoon...when I needed them!!)
    I stopped in Ephrata, at a local Subway shop with Ted, for lunch.  I had a footlong sandwich, a large drink and chips.  Then it was back on the road by noon.
    It was 68 degrees before lunch, but more like 80 degrees after lunch.  It is a drier climate-lots of volcanic ridges.  The day grew much warmer, up to 97 degrees.  We still had 40 some miles to go.  I drank lots, in fact, I've made the comment today that I'm SICK of drinking and eating!  It's a job and gatorade and water taste awful to me.  Dinner is a problem because I eat all I can, feel nausious and then I am hungry a couple of hours later (after dinner is done!).   Last night I bought some beef jerky for the ride today.  After tossing and turning in bed, I thought I would have a piece. Boom! All gone!  Our caloric intake is like 3X normal (around 7500 calories per day).
    We made it to Odessa and are camped at the local school (K-12).   I walked downtown to find a phone.  A local lady (Linda) drove me to one end of the town and back, helping me!  She explained the history of the town (Russian immigrants naming it after Odessa, Russia).  I had a beer at the local pub and talked with a local couple who just got married (they rode a tractor to the reception) and are embarking on a honeymoon to the Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota.
    I rode without my knee brace for much of the afternoon.   Maybe?! It's getting better.  To bed, I hope I sleep!
    STATS:    9:13 PM         74 degrees F
                      83.9 mi (using mine!)  12.9 mph ave.    31.5 mph max.         6:29 hrs. ride time

    I know that Scott is headed for Spokane today (Thursday-Day 4).  They will be in Spokane until Saturday morning.  Friday, Day 5, is a much need and much welcomed rest day.  The catch?  He will have to ride another 88 miles to get there!  Are we having fun yet?!

Days 4-6 (June 17-19)
I will relay some of the contents of a phone message I received from Scott....

    The ride into Spokane from Odessa (Day 4- 88.7 miles) was very pleasant.   For the first time we felt we could really enjoy the views (golden wheat fields), light breeze, cooler temperatures.  There were some hills, but not the long steep climbs we had been experiencing for the past three days.  The route joined up with the bike trail along the river as we reached Spokane.  It was a beautiful ride.   The name of the bike trail and the name of the school we were camping at were the same, Centennial.  The organizers must have thought the bike trail ended up at the school because we lost route markings when the bike trail ended in town.  The problem was noticed and attemts were being made to correct the situation by the time I and about 100 other riders rode into town.  It was a pretty awesone sight to see us all riding in together like that!  Since the next day (
Day 5) was our day off, a number of us decided to go into town and visit a local brew pub for a few ambers.  There was a live band who dedicated an impromptu song for us called "The Big Ride!" ...It was fun.   Gee, if we have this much comraderie after only 4 days, imagine how close we will be by the time we pedal our asses to Washington D.C.! We are leaving WA tomorrow.  Don't know much about the ride yet, but I've heard that there is a bike trail that will take us straight to Coeur D'Alene, Idaho.  However, we are going to begin climing again!  Oh boy!!  What can I say.  It's been windy, hot, hilly (some really BIG climbs) and downright hard - but hey, I'm having a GREAT time!!"   That about sums it up.  One disturbing thing, apparently three bikes were stolen from the school camp on Thursday night.  The riders and crew took up a collection and raised over $1400.00 to help them defray the cost of new bikes so they wouldn't miss any of the ride.  That says a lot about this group.  Together for less than a week and they are already bonded as a team!  I guess they weren't in the "best" part of town while they were in Spokane (Apparently, one woman, while lost on the route coming in, witnessed a shooting!!  Yikes, I am sure they are happy to be on their way to Idaho.)

    I slept in (past 6:00 AM!) then up for a later than usual breakfast at 8:00 AM in the Centenial Middle School cafeteria. (Muffins, fruit and juice made up the light fare..)
    My legs are very SORE today!  I almost feel guilty NOT riding.  A light spin for 20 miles or so might help move some if the lactic acid out of my sore legs.   But, my butt would argue that the trip would be too painful! (My butt won that arguement...and my legs didn't really put up much of a fight).
    Tents are scattered about the school grounds in small clusters.  Some chose the high ground, up against the school (on the north side of the building, in the shade), other are in a main tent area and there are small clusters of tents under and around various trees...sheltered from the sun.  I'm in one such spot...across the tennis courts, away from the hubub and grouped with about 12 other riders.
    Yesterday's ride was great!  The weather was mild, starting out near 58 degrees F.  It did climb as high as 94 degrees F, but mostly it stayed in the 70's in the morning and in the low 80's in the afternoon.
    I did 88 miles yesterday!  The highest so far and many people were worried about making it.  Several SAG'ed the entire day, wiped out by the heat, wind and climbing thus far.  I felt better after my first good night's sleep yet.  When I went to bed, two people started snoring!  "Oh God," I thought, "I'll never get to sleep."  I ate a pack of beef jerky (rapidly becoming my favorite snack) and fell asleep during a snoring lull.
Oh, I should tell you about the night before.  We stayed at the Odessa school...oops...did already!  Well on to the road
(an account of Day 4 ride is next-pat)!
    I was up at 4:30 AM..with the light.  I looked out of my tent and saw a few people beginning to stir.  Wanting to be packed early...and some free time in a quiet, lineless bathroom, I got up.  Dew hasn't been a problem this far, but this morning my tent was wet.  I shaved and pooped, then packed up my gear and stowed the tent.
    There was a big breatfast this morning.  My eyes are very hungry, as is my body, but my stomach has not space available for lease.  I just can't eat enough!   I get stuffed, feel bad 'cause I'm so full, then I am hungry 2 hours later.  I am so sick of eating and drinking!!  It's like this job I have to do and don't want to.
    I spin out of camp, slowly at about 6:30 AM.  It is a cool morning as I head out of town, passing a few riders and saying "hi" as some riders pass me.   Lush green wheat fields.  The only real problem in the morning is not the wind, heat or sleepiness...rather, the road.  We ride on a "chip-seal" road.  This road has been "repaved" by laying gravel over a hot, tar substrate.  Lots of bumps and rocks.  Rough riding.

   I hook up with Mary and Tom and ride with them in the morning.   Mary went to Davis and lives in Pleasant Hill.  She started out as a hospital nutritionist and is now teaching (she didn't like the exacting and detail- oriented demands of the hospital nutritionists).  The things you learn about people on the road!  Tom's butt is very sore and he's nursing it over this rough road.  We stop in Davenport for a burger, but it's too early at a local burger joint, they don't open until 10:00 AM ( 10 minutes away).  We head over to another cafe/bowling alley and find out they don't open until 11:00 AM!  So, we break out our nutritional reserves and split what we have -Tom (pretzels), Mary (Gummy zots), and me (beef jerky).
   We asked the people setting up the cafe/bowling alley if we can use their restroom and they let us in.  It turns out that the guy is an ex-sheriff who bought the place after the bowling alley in Odessa burned down.  They are the ONLY bowling alley in the county!
   The pavement turns pristine just outside of town.  It is still cool out, with only a slight cross wind from the right quarter.  A perfect road.  Tom calls it "QP" -quality pavement and I give it a "+" rating 'cause there is little to no debris on the shoulder (QP+).
   We part ways as we separate into our own paces.  Mary ahead, me second and Tom last (butt sore).  I'm singing along at 16-20 mph, depending on hills and wind.  Smooth riding.
   I stopped at a mid-ride checkpoint, grabbed a banana, grapes, and switch into my flip flops (Yes, this is where the flip flop became the shoe of choice-pat).  I ran into Dave and Rachel (from Canada) and leave right afer them.   We had plans to have a burger at the next town.  I rode with Rachel for a while (she was a correctional officer and now is more like a parole officer).  She is a strong rider, like Mary, and keeps up a good, challenging pace.  One hot hill to climb before we stop at "Zips" for a burger.  I had the "Belly Buster" burger (which was not as big as it sounds).  Rachel gave us a stretching lesson on the grass as police officers (eating inside) gave us strange looks.  Now several other people have joined us and we travel, as a group, for a while.  Lisa and Laurie are also from Canada.
   Near Spokane we veer off of roads and onto the Centennial Bike path, which winds down along the Spokane River.  We stop for a group shot.  It is hotter now, maybe in the high 80's as we leave the path and enter Spokane.
   The route is all messed up and a local bike club rider is escorting us, along with an ever growing number of riders, to our camp across town.   In the end, we had over 50 ( it was 100 in the email-pat!) riders all riding together through the city streets.  It looked impressive--much more so than in Seattle.
STATS:    87.8 mi.    13.7 mph ave.     36.2 mph max.        6:24 hrs. ride time

P.S. I need to tell about the adventure to the microbrewery and the impromtu song "The Big Ride."  (It is 10:00PM on my day off and I must turn in!)
    Some people, who had arrived earlier got lost in Spokane and wandered around for hours.  One woman, who had gone to the wrong middle school witnessed a shooting! (much of our ride was through the not-so-good part of Spokane, apparently.)
    We had dinner in the school cafeteria (Big tacos/burritos) after setting up the tents beyond the tennis courts.  Our first "non-ride-the-next-day night."   George (from Hawaii) suggested that we get a cab and go into town.  Thirty minutes later, at about 8:30 PM, we pile into a cab and go ride into town.  There, we met the social director for the Spokane Bike Club, our host, and she takes us to a small Irish pub.  About 14 of us are there and we have a beer, then it's on to a local brew pub, where there will soon be live music.
    Ted, Tom, George and I are sitting at one table.  We order a pitcher of beer and relax.  The bouncer asks for a $3.00 cover charge for the show, which is due to start in half an hour.  We tell him that we're not sure we're staying, because we are all pretty beat.  Another beer later, the band starts (turns out that no less than 3 bands are playing tonight).  The music is good, we pay the cover and order another pitcher of beer. Steve Mann tells the singer about our Big Ride adventure and he talks to us over the mic for a while.  We all cheer whenever they mention the Big Ride.   There are now about 20 of us in the pub.
    The second band even makes up an impromptu song about "The Big Ride".   It went somrthing like this: "We're on a Big Ride; Goin' from Seattle to the Nation's Capitol; Pedal all day and sleep at night, yessiree...We're on a Big Ride!"   We were all dancing and hooting and generally having a great time.  Kraig crashed a bachelorette party and the girls are taking photos of him carrying the bride-to-be!  It was a fun night and the impromptu song made it that more special.
    Back to my day off...
    Three bikes were stolen from camp sometime during the night  We, the riders and crew, took up a collection and raised nearly $1400.00 to help the three buy new bikes on the day off so they don't have to miss even a day of riding.
    Ted and I bike a few blocks to do laundry.  What a laundramat!  It has everything: sundry, deli, store, quicklube place, gas, postcards, and video gaming room-even a children's playroom.  We do our laundry, sit and eat a sandwich with Beven and Martin, write postcards, then bike back to camp with clean clothes.  While eating sandwiches, we laugh over a dog, a white German Shephard, sitting calmly in a car at the pumps.  It almost looks as if the dog is driving, or at least, waiting for the car to get filled up with gas.
    We (Ted and I) catch a ride with the Big Ride sports Doctor into the downtown area and head for the library.  We both get library cards (momentos) so we can gain access to the internet. (ATHM stock is down a bunch! Say hi to Putie via email)
    Ted and I then  head down to eat a pizza dinner, write postcards, and then grab a bus back to camp.  While walking back, I try to call Pat- no answer.  To bed early.

The ride on
Day 6 (Spokane, WA to Sandpoint, ID- 81 miles) was another pleasant one.   They rode along the river as they left Spokane, crossing on a wooden bridge.   Quite a few of the riders stopped at the Washington-Idaho state line to take pictures. (Scott hasn't sent me any pictures yet-sorry) They also enjoyed a 20 mph tail wind most of the way in to Coeur D'Alene.  I am sure they welcomed that change of pace!  Hopefully, they didn't go too fast and miss the pine trees and snow capped mountains that filled the landscape.  Much of the trail followed the river where the water glistened like sparkling threads.  Camp that night was in a farmer's field and they took busses into Sandpoint for dinner (Scott says it was the best one yet!- I don't think the food is much to rave about, he hasn't said a whole lot about it so far.)   The route offered rolling hills and no big climbs -  good day!

I forgot to reset my speedometer.  STATS for today:  165.8 mi.     14.6 mph ave.    41 mph max.    
                                                                                               1:17 hrs. ride time
                                                                                                        (must roll over at 9:59 to 0:01)

    Great day riding!  I start out riding with Rosie, Joan, Anne and Emily.   We ride along the Centennial Bike Trail, which follows the Spokane River, after a brief ride through residential streets, spinning at an easy speed.  The sky is filled with puffy white clouds around a deep blue sky.  The river is high and we joke as we ride along.  Plenty of wildflowers.  We stop for a group photo near the river. dire need to pee, forces a stop only 3 miles from the Idaho border.   But, we catch up with Dick (who had broken loose) and watch him liberally apply zinc oxide, not only to his lips, but around his whole mouth and chin!  Looks like Al Jolson in reverse!  I take a photo of a zinc-oxide Rosie and zinc-oxide Dick kissing.   What a hoot.  That Rosie sure is fun!  and Dick (MA) is a riot too.   No shortage of characters on the Big Ride.
    More photos at the Idaho border.  I lose the group there and ride with Doug (San Jose/Chiropractor) for a while.  We ride into Coeur D"Alene together and stop at a McDonalds for a quick burger (too early for the lunch menu..It is only 9:30 AM..So we have an Egg McMuffin!)  Back on the road.
    I lose Doug at a pit stop and ride solo for a while.  Then Jim (Virginia) and Rachel (Vancouver) pull up behind me and mention lunch in 15 miles!!  I ride with them stopping at the Rib Ranch. I had a rueben sandwich, joining several other riders, George (Hawaii), Eric (FL), Lisa (Vancouver) for lunch.  Back on the road.
    The day is sweet.  Tailwinds (finally) make cruising at 25.28 mph possible and the scenery to Sandpoint was just gorgeous.  We rode past forests, snow capped peaks- just unreal.
    We arrive in Sandpoint in good order, earliest arrival yet (2:30 PM).   Everyone had an equally excellent day and everyone is in a good mood.  Some lost their way for various distances because parts of the day's route were tricky.
    I pitch camp with Jim, Rachel, Laurie (Vancouver Is.) and Dave (hamburger Dave from NJ) in the "back 40".  We are in an alfalfa field!  We had to spend some time convincing Jim that hard, uneven dirt in the "back 40" was better than a "city spot" near the road to town (where car noise, flying beer bottles, etc might be a hazard.. This is, after all, redneck Idaho!)  Jim relents.
    Dinner (excellent fare- BBQ chicken breasts, multiple fresh salads, and cookies to die for) at the local Eagles Club.  We had to take a shuttle into town.  I walked through town with Jim, Dave and Rachel after dinner. We bought postcards, window shopped and even taught Dave how to play hopscotch on one painted on game, right on the street!
    We walked to the other end of town for fresh pie (strawberry, mudd and apple).  A really special time as we continued the process of becoming really good friends and starting to discuss personal and meaningful topics.  A really special night spent with really special people.  I'm really going to hate saying goodbye in D.C.!.....I can tell already.
    What a wonderful trip, a meaningful journy, and lovely day.   All is right with the world.

Day 7 (June 20)
The ride today from Sandpoint to Thompson Falls was hard. There was more uphill than downhill - we climbed 3300 feet.  At least it wasn't all at once.  Just as one would get to the top there was another hill just down the road!  At least Scott's knee isn't bothering him anymore.  I guess after the first few days, it settled into the pedaling motion.  No pain!  Well, just the ordinary aches and pains from biking all day.
  Someone on the ride today saw moose.  Deer, both alive and the roadside kind, were also spotted.  Scott noticed a bald eagle, too.  It must have been a pleasant ride (except for the ticks! Yuck!).  There was a bear warning at camp. (I didn't get any reports of bears stealing bikes.) 
    Scott has been making a lot of new friends on this ride, Rachel, Laurie and Lisa from Canada, and Dave from New Jersey (who loves to sing while he rides, whether he knows the words to the song or not!) and Jim, to name a few.   There are only 137 riders on this year's Big Ride. Apparently about 250 registered, but only 137 actually are riding.  It is still hard to meet and learn everyone's names.  It has only been a week.  I am sure by the time they roll into Washington, D.C., everyone will be close friends!
    It was warm in the afternoon and this prompted Scott to ride the rest of the way into Thompson Falls in his flip flops.  He actually prefers the flip flops to his clip in riding shoes. 
    The riders were bussed into town where the local order of Eagles prepared a fantastic dinner for them.  The Big Ride organiziation pays a flat price per rider in cash to the local volunteer organizations in the towns they overnight in.   It is then up to the volunteers to buy the groceries, prepare and serve the food to the riders.  It has been working out well for everyone.  The riders get a variety of meals, meet the local people, and  the volunteers can put any money left over toward their own community service.
    The ride tomorrow (Day 8) will be the longest one yet, 99.9 miles into Missoula.  Here we go!

STATS for DAY 7:    8:34 PM    71 degrees F    
                                      89 mi.    14.9 mph ave.    34.7 mph max.         5:56 hrs. ride time

    I woke up to a dog barking. "The dog with a clipped bark," said one Big Rider.  Apparently, the dog started barking at 2:00 AM.  Other people said that the couple living in the house immediately adjacent to our field were arguing (screaming at each other) late at night.  Surprisingly, I slept through all that, until 4:30 AM, when the barking dog finally woke me up.
    I got a late start out of camp, but a fine breakfast at the Eagles Club in downtown Sandpoint.  The morning was a tad chilly, in the mid 50's, so I wore leg warmers and a rain jacket.  I left town with Landon (Canada) but parted ways when I found a telephone to call Pat.
    Back on the road through mountains, rivers, and lakes.  No wildlife, but it looked like artificial "nests" were set up out on the lake; for eagles maybe?
    I rode by myself until the first stop, when I ran into Dave and Rachel.  I then rode with them to the checkpoint ( a spot, normally about half way through the ride, where staff take down the rider number for each rider that comes through)
    Today's ride was up and down, but seemed to be particularly difficult, though I couldn't see a reason why.  I even stopped at one point to see if my brakes were dragging!  (I later found out that we had climbed over 3000 feet during the course of the day, even though we had faced no singularly difficult climb.)
    I entered Montana near mid-morning.  We passed up lunch at the "Boar's Breath" a place serving food and spirits, filled with character.  We ate later at Salmon Falls, opting for a burger and Diet Pepsi (my first soda on the trip.)  My fuel gauge was on "E" and the lights had just come on.  I was famished!
    We ate at a small bar, where we talked to a few locals about our ride.  They asked if we saw the grease spot near the bridge, where one woman's husband had run into the bridge "doing 70"!  They all had a big laugh over that and said that Branny (?) Evens had run into it too...
    I rode the remainder of the way to camp wearing sandles (flip flops).  Very comfortable, I managed to put in about 10 miles at 24+ mph.
    I saw 3 live deer, 2 really smelly dead deer by the side of the road and a bald eagle with something in its beak.  Someone else reported seeing moose.
    Dave was up to his usual antics: including singing "There's a Halo on the corner of my Girlfriend's four poster bed"...only his version goes more like "When I wake up there's a halo on the corner of the corner of my girlfriend's bed!!"  He also yodles I found out...much to the discern and delight of various onlookers - be they Big Riders or not!  What a character!
        To bed...more later.
        Nite Putie!
    We finally make it into camp...which for tonight is Thompson Falls school.   It's been a long day and we pitch camp around the perimeter of the school, showered in the basement, boys locker room for the boys and girls locker room for the girls.
    Dinner was yet another bus ride into town, to another school (elementary).   It was good...Roast beef, mashed potatoes, corn, etc.  Some of us ride the swings after dinner, then back to camp via a school bus.
    At camp, some people were signed up for massage therapy, chiropractor therapy, bike-fix therapy, others talking, readying for the next day, or readying for bed.   There is a swimming pool (public) at this school, but it costs $1.50 and not many people go swimming.  There is a bear warning in camp, hide your shampoo, toothpast, food, etc.  I find a tick on my waterproof bag...
    I go to bed and write a bit in the journal.  Then to sleep.
    Before bed, I took a walk along a small path that leads into the woods, away from the noise and hubub at the school.  I startle a deer and it flashed it's white tail as it headed up slope away from me.  It stopped, looked back, and we looked at each other for a few long moments.  Nice.

Day 8 (June 21)
The riders woke up today to rain.  It started during the night and didn't look like it was going to let up during the ride to Missoula.  Scott finally got to use his rain gear.  It kept him dry, but everything in his bike was wet. I would guess that riding in the rain would be more stressful, slippery and uncomfortable.  That didn't seem to keep Scott from riding all day in his flip flops again.  Maybe he can design a flip flop biking shoe!  Hmmm...   Several riders SAGed some of the way because of the weather, the climbs and the distance.  Three strikes!  It was pretty miserable for some. 
    Most believed they were going to stay in dorms while in Missoula.   I am sure all were disappointed when they found out they were still camping (in the rain).  I am sure their disappointment was short lived as the prospect of having two days off from riding was more than enough to make them happy.  All that they had to worry about now was to dry out from the rainy ride today and make plans for tomorrow....Ride hard, play hard!

    I awakened in the middle of the night.  Our greatest fear... rain. Good thing that my laundry is in and the waterproof bag is my only item outside the tent.   I roll over and hope that it quits before dawn.
    It does not and I wake up at 4:30 (only, really, it's 5:30 AM because we lost an hour at the Montana border).  Everyone was shaking water from their tents, donning expensive rain gear and pedaling to breakfast.       I pack my tent wet, shave and find all of my rain stuff.  I wear my flip flops to breakfast and I was so comfortable, that I decide to leave them on for the day.
    Dave (NJ) and I get a late start and we head out of Thompson Falls about 7:00 AM, in the rain.  Low fog clings to the mountains on either side of us.  We make our way along the valley floor, following a river, swollen nearly to the brim with recent snowmelt.
    Today is going to be a long day, our first 100 mile day and many people SAG and those riding are concerned about the distance.
    Dave and I ride together all day.  Dave starts out with a rousing rendition of "Good Morning America, How Are You? Don't You Know Me, I'm Your Native Son?   I'm the Train They Call the City of New Orleans.  I'll be Gone 500 Miles When the Day is Done."  Somehow it seems to fit our day.  Railroad tracks run along side of us and as we near plains, 24 miles into the ride, a train pulls up to our right.  It is going just slightly faster than ourselves....I race it for about a mile, slowly gaining...then losing ground as I huff and puff, winded.
    We stop for phone calls, beef jerky and a small rest, then it's bacl on the road,chewing up miles at a rate of 15 mph.  Today's route is pretty easy to navigate (stay on highway 200) so neither of us bothered with taking a map.
    Kayla had an exciting day, we find out later.  A pick-up truck carrying a couch passes her in the opposite direction.  The couch isn't held down very well and it dislodges out of the truck and skims behind Kayla by merely a foot or so!  Another rider, Brad, has fast food thrown at him. (beaned by a Big Mac!)
    A weird, scary day.  Hwy 200 is a two lane Hwy with lots of traffic and very narrow (if at all) shoulder.  Big trucks come barreling along, creating a wake of dirty water that coats us with a thin film of grime and water.   Some vehicles do not make much attempt to pull over and come very close.  To make matters worse, some of the road, under construction, is covered with small gravel.   The speed limit in these zones is 35 mph, but no one honors this limit....trying, instead, to keep at 50-70 mph.
    My butt is very sore by the end of the day.  There is one gradual climb near the end and a fun downhill into Missoula.  We pedal around the outskirts of town to camp...another football field.
    Some people are still out on the road, but many are showered and have their tents set up.  Dave and I did stop for lunch near mile the Bison Inn.  Dave had hot chicken soup and a sandwich.  I go for a burger.  Either way, warm food and an hour to dry is sorely needed.
    COLD!!! showers await us in Missoula!  Some folks pass on showers.  Many opt for hotels... and some (like me) immerse themselves in the experience and steel themselves to an ice-cube clean!  Brrrr!!
    Set up tents on "Maple-Leaf COurt" (with the Canadian contingency) and then head to dinner... Again, a shuttle to a religious school. Spaghetti is the fare, but they have run out of noodles and we end up waiting in line while the noodles are boiling.
    Back to camp, phone calls and then a group goes out for drinks at a sports bar (the Press Box).  A large crowd of 30-40 Big Riders.  We have a couple of beers, then the rowdy crowd goes out to the Rhino..the rest of us go back to camp.  Dave, Ken, Laurie, Rachel and I stay up a bit, snacking on a mixed bag of   day-old food stowed on our bikes...Then to bed.
    STATS:    102.3 mi.    14.5 mph avg.    39.3 mph max.        7:02 hrs. ride time

Day 9( June 22)
First of two rest days in Missoula.   Although the weather threatened to rain, many of the riders sought adventure by white water rafting down the Flathead River.  As Scott puts it (courtesy of a cyber cafe in Missoula): A couple groups went whitewater rafting.  One group(me-hmm. Scott is his own group!-) went for a whole day, the other for a half day.  Went on the Flathead River.  It was cloudy and cool, but we still had a great time. 

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Here is a picture of our little tent city in Missoula (keep in mind that many people are staying in a motel here.....big babies!!!

We wore wetsuits and fleece jackets.  The water was high from all the recent snowmelt (still have snow on the peaks).  Saw a bald eagle, osprey and ducks. No bear, but a few cows!!  Got plenty wet and stopped to have a BBQ chicken, salad and blackberry pie for lunch. We were livin' large!!  Took a group photo all hanging from a tire swing at the take-out point!  Got back to town, did laundry, ate Thai dinner, had a huckleberry shake and then talked in the end-zone at camp!
Now, I know I was wondering at first, what talking in the end-zone meant and you may be wondering too.  Or maybe you are a bit quicker than I was to realize that they were camping on a football field at a local high school! 

Well these evening chat sessions can be very serious.  We talk about serious stuff...why we're doing the ride, where we want to be in 5 years, what the ride means to us...our weaknessess, experiences, and of course....JOKES!! Since the sun really doesn't set until almost 10:00PM (way past Scott's usual bedtime) there was plenty of time for end-zone talk.

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One of the bike racks we store our bikes on at night.  Three bikes were stolen from such a rack in Spokane, but riders raised money, bike shops discounted bikes, and all three were replaced!
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A great day to unwind- Cindy is stretching, John is reading, and Jan (in the background, with her back to the camera) Loyola Scared Heart High School football field.













Day 10 (June23)
Today found Scott running errands and looking for an internet hookup.  He found a cyber cafe in Missoula and we exchanged email about the ride.  Scott was able to download some pictures of the camp in Missoula. 
    I am going to have a very busy day.  My helmet needs to be fixed, my sandals (aka-flip flops) broke last night and need to be replaced, I need to get a new pair of bike shorts (hmm, wearing them out already?), clorox bleach my water bottles, lube my bike, etc.  Very busy for a day off!!
Couldn't be too busy. Thankfully, he was able to also enjoy the sights in Missoula.  Thanks for all your help.  The journal looks great! (You're Welcome!)  We're off to lunch at the park (some jazz festival thing) and then I got stuff to buy!  There was enough daylight left to accomplish all of Scott's tasks AND climb up to the "M" behind the school.  Why?  Because it was there..we had to.  Enough said.  These guys are having a ball!

Days 11-12 (June 24,25)
These next two days were pretty uneventful, at least by phone communication standards.  I am sure Scott's actual journal entry will prove otherwise.  Day 11 (Missoula to Avon, 103 miles) proved to be a long, hard day.  Not only was it the longest day, but the riders faced headwinds and steep climbs.  Many took advantage of the SAG vans (some cried at having to do so) when their knees just wore out and fatigue was too great to fight it out.  I know how important it is to ride every inch of the way, many do not make it in that club, but if it is any consolation (and I am sure right now it is not) just doing this ride is an accomplishment!
   While the weather threatened thunderstorms most of the way in, the late afternoon brought sunshine and the hope of a great evening.  The riders camped in Avon and were treated to a great evening meal.  Although pretty tired and beat up after fighting the distance and wind, Scott found it hard to get to bed early.  If only the sun wouldn't stay up so late! (Sunset, 9:48 PM).
    The ride on
Day 12, was much shorter ( Avon to Townsend, 62.2 miles), but no less intense.   Today, the riders had to cross over MacDonalds Pass- elevation 6325 feet.   This is the Continental Divide.  One would think that it should be "downhill" the rest of the way...well it is a nice thought! 
    Because the weather has been rainy and thunderstorms had been looming for the past few days in the area, the pass was reported to have snow and possible hail during the day.  This worried some of the riders.  Last year a snow storm closed the pass before all the riders could make it across on their bikes. (Those that were determined to ride every inch, actually hired taxi cabs to take them back so they could ride the part they had missed the day before!  Now that is dedication!) This year, the pass was quite different.  It was a bit breezy and the climb was hard, but it was dry and the view from the top?  Well, you just got to be there to really understand what it felt like.  It was an obvious place to stop and take pictures, rest and revel in knowing that the worst was behind you.  The downhill was a screamer!  Scott said they reached nearly 50 mph!!   It was pretty much all downhill into Helena.  This was a great place to have lunch and enjoy the day.   The remaining 30 miles or so into Townsend was a snap.
    Camp in Townsend was reached early in the afternoon.  It was almost like a mini rest day.  But, I think the events of the past few days have finally caught up with Scott and he was heading to bed early (unless the end-zone talk was too tempting!).   They are facing back to back centuries for the next few days as they head into Billings.  For some, this will be another first!

    (I finally received the first 6 days worth of Scott's journal in the mail.  I will add the information in italics, as I have been to signify his own words, back on the appropriate days.  You may want to go back to Day 1 and re-read those days.  I am sure you won't want to miss it! -Pat)

Day 13 (June 26)
    This was a very long day.  The ride from Townsend to Harlowton was a little over 100 miles and they climbed an elevation of over 4000 feet to the summit.  I thought getting over MacDonald's Pass was the hard part.   Apparently they could SEE the Continental Divide from the top of the Pass.....somewhat misleading.  Anyway, it was at least cool.
    The morning was very cool (low 40's) and there was frost on the sleeping bags.   Scott had to wear his fleece jacket to sleep in (which was a difficult decision since his fleece jacket was also his pillow!).  There were pine trees and a herd of   buffalo to view as they pedaled up to the summit.  They did lose the trees at the top of the summit.
    There is a local sect of Hullinites in the area they  rode through and the school head master brought the kids out to the road in a tractor-pulled wagon to see the riders pass by.  The kids were very excited and waved and hollered with great enthusiasm to the riders as they passed in front of them.  A very nice experience.
    After the major climb to the summit, the rest of the ride was nice rolling hills.   Apparently they will experience these nice rolling hills for the next 300 miles or so.  Right now, Harlowton (100 miles) is all the distance Scott and the others needed to worry about.
    I didn't get much detail from our evening phone conversation.  He had to wait for the phone and others were still in line to use it.  We kept it short, saying "Happy 10 Year Anniversay!" and the usual stuff like that.   Because oft that, though, I forgot to ask important questions about the trip, camp, dinner, etc.  We will have to wait for Scott's rendition later, I guess.

Day 14 (June 27)
    The ride from Harlowton to Billings was probably the most eventful so far.  Not only was it slightly over 100 miles, but several of us had flat tires.  Poor Rachel had three flat tires, Dave and Scott both had only one flat tire.  Dave and Scott also have something else in common.  Their bikes decided to share an intimate moment when they crashed into each other.  No one was hurt and the bikes are ok (nothing that can't be tweeked and straightened out while on their day off!)
    He got a later than usual start, around 7:30, and experienced headwinds most of the day. They stopped in a small town about 48 miles into the day for lunch and to buy a fellow rider a birthday present.  They also stopped to buy cookies from a kid and take some pictures.  (Remember, they are also there to "stop and smell the roses." ) 
    A storm hit after lunch and many of the riders were struggling with the distance and the weather.  Scott and his riding buds rode with some dejected riders trying to give them riding tips and moral support along the way. Scott wore his flip flops again today.
    All the repair and side trip delays caused them to get into camp around 7:00 PM, the latest so far.  They were pretty tired.  Camp is in a residential area out in the sandstone bluffs away from the town somewhat.  They want to charge $15.00 to bus everyone back and forth into downtown.  It will be another welcomed day off.

Day 15 (June 28)
    Another day off, I am sure they don't come soon enough for some of the riders.  Scott and four other riders rented a car in Billings to go into town, do laundry and run errands.  It was the most efficient way to travel since camp was some distance from town and the bus fare was steep. 
    The bike doctor traveling with the group is from Billings, he owns a bike shop in town.  He and his family opened their home up to the riders later in the day for some social fun and refreshments.  Other than that, the day was more housekeeping oriented than anything.  Many shopped for and wrote postcards to loved ones and supporters.   Others, relaxed and readied themselves for the next day.
    Scott did manage to find another cyber cafe and quickly send off an email to me.  
        We are in a cyber cafe, but they are going to close at 4 and kick us out shortly thereafter, so my time is short.  I believe that I have fractured my foot.  That is the only explanation that I can have for the pain that I am now experiencing.  I will try and take it easy for the rest of the ride (no hopping from ropes, etc).  I could not see the doc today, because it is her day off.  I will try to talk to her about it tomorrow (to see what our options are.)
    Dave (NJ) bought a tandem bike today so that Laurie (one of the Canadians, who suffered a fractured patella on her right leg) can finish the ride.  We are rigging up the bike to let her right leg remain immobile and she can pedal with her left leg (kinda like a three-legged race).  Don't know how much riding I'll be able to do with Dave now, cause I figure he'll be slower now.  BUT, he has a big heart, as does Laurie!!
    Did laundry, mailed film, etc today.  Rested.

Day 16 (June 29)
    The riders rode from Billings to Hardin today- only 51.1 miles.  For many it will be a nice transistion into riding in the plains.   They are heading south for a few days before turing east into South Dakota.
    Dave and Laurie did well on the tandem they rigged up to help her finish the ride.   She was apparently beaming from ear to ear upon arrival into camp.  The real test will be tomorrow when the ride to Sheridan, WY is much longer (87 miles).   Everyone was laughing at Dave because he had a sore butt (Dave usually rides a

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Dave Filton      Rider # 148    New Jersey

recumbant bike with a much wider seat.  The narrow, hard seat on the tendem was not as comfortable!).
    Scott and most of the others rolled into camp pretty early, around noon, with enough time to enjoy the pool and showers at the local rec center.  The group put on a talent show that evening after dinner.  The talent included singing, guitar and drum playing, and some pretty funny skits.  Wow, not only can they ride bikes endless miles everyday, but they have other talents, as well.
    Tomorrow, they head south to Sheridan, Wyoming, the fourth state on their journey across America!

Day 17 (June 30)
Today's ride from Hardin to Sheridan, Wyoming -86.3 miles, was rainy and cool.  That didn't stop the riders from enjoying the thrill of crossing over into their fourth state in this 12 state journey across the continent.  They met up with a Crow Indian along the way and chatted about reservation life and the Big Ride.
     I heard from Scott as they pulled into a small town just across the border for some lunch.  He told me how the sun was coming out and he thought the last 30 miles or so would be nice.  When I asked him how much farther he had to ride, he said, "Oh, not much just 30 or so miles-piece of cake."   Well, most of us would think that was a lot, I guess they are getting used to riding 80+ miles a day.
    Scott got into camp pretty early today, around 3:30.  He told me that even though the sun was out during lunch, it began to rain again shortly thereafter.  As a matter of fact, he and Rachel (Canada) took advantage of the tail winds and raced the storm all the way in.  They are staying at the fairgrounds in Sheridan.
    They are trying out new (better) showers tonight.  Scott plans to catch up on his journal writing and hit the bag early tonight.  Tomorrow they face their longest day yet -113 miles to Gillette, Wyoming.  Scott plans to ride without his Canadian buddies since they are pulling the Dream Machine.  I am sure he will find many others to ride with.

Day 18 (July 1)
   If there was ever a day where the sky seemed to go on forever and the country side was unblemished as far as the eye can see, it was today.  The ride from Sheridan to Gillette was very long- 113 miles.  The weather was sunny and even a bit warm.  They seem to be missing the thunderstorms and inclement weather farther south in the midwest.  There were clouds filling the sky.  Some spotted antelope and others ostrich.
    There were few towns along the way but people were very interested in the Big Riders.  One enterprising young family baked brownies ($.50), had sliced watermelon and lemonade ($.25) for sale along the route.  Most had lunch in the Spotted Horse Cafe, a quaint place filled with antiques.  This was at mile 75.    They were excited, they only had 40 miles to go!
    The ride was jam packed with rolling hills and they had their biggest cummulative climb of the ride so far- 5000 feet.   At least there were lots of downs as well.  It did make for a long day in the saddle.  Scott claimed that it was definately a Bag Balm night.
    They are camping at a fairground-like facility in Gillette.   Buffalo burgers were the main course at dinner.  Probably the most unusual dinner so far (no chicken!!).
    The Canadian team pulled the Dream Machine today and that meant that Dave (NJ) was an honorary member since he and Laurie (Vancouver) were riding tandem.   Laurie's family surprised her mid route today.  They were supposed to meet her in Rapid City, but were found along side the route sitting in lawn chairs waiting for her.   Of course, Laurie didn't tell them the extent of her knee injury and they were very surprise to see her on the tandem with her right leg in a splint.  Never the less, they were very proud of her tenacity to continue despite her injury.  I think we all are.
    Scott has been given a nickname- Flip!  This is reference to the fact that he prefers to wear his flip flops while riding to the more traditional bike shoe that clips into a pedal.  He wore them all day again today.  Maybe he will revolutionize the biking world with his fashion statement.
    Tomorrow they ride to Newcastle, Wyoming-73.6 miles.  They ride past Devil's Tower and have the option to take a side trip to actually see the Tower.   It only adds 25 miles onto the day!  (No big deal, right Scott?)  We will see if many take advantage of the sight seeing.
    I will be visiting Scott this weekend as they roll in to Rapid City for the Fourth of July rest day.  I won't be updating the journal or the front page until I get back on the 5th.  Have a good holiday...I will.

Day 19 (July 2)
    The day before was especially hard and long -113 miles.   Some riders didn't make it in until 8:30 PM.  This day was a fast 76 miles for Scott.  His average speed for Day 19 (Gillette to Newcastle) was over 18 mph.   Now we all know it wasn't a flat as a pancake so he must have had a fire lit under his saddle.
    Everyone was up early despite the later-than-usual night before.   They ran out of  breakfast that morning and most of the riders were a bit upset over this.  Fortunately, there was a cinnamon roll place about 5 miles into the ride that most of the remaining hungry riders stopped at to fuel up for the day ahead.   I think most would rather have cinnamon rolls to greasy eggs and sausage anyway.   In addition to the rolls, Scott has decided that the folks in the RV at the checkpoint have the best food of all during the day.  Today they wipped up hamburgers, melon, pears, chips....very satiating.
    Some of the riders opted to pay a few enterprising locals to drive them to see Devil's Tower.  I guess the prospect of having to ride was not appealing.
    Scott rolled into camp early, around 12:30 PM in time to do laundry and find a phone.  They all pitched their tents at another school football field and prepared for what was predicted to be hard day into Rapid City.

Day 20 (July 3)
   We all knew it was going to be hard to beat the fast ride that Scott had into Newcastle.  The 85 mile ride into Rapid City was a hard one.  The riders crossed into their fifth state, South Dakota, and the Black Hills!
    I managed to surprise Scott in Custer about 38 miles into the route,  after their decent out of the Black Hills.  He was surprised and I was surprised that I was able to find him, not really knowing where they were on the route.   I was able to meet quite a few of the riders that I have heard so much about, Mary (CA), Rachel (Canada), Rosie (MN), Ron, Harry, Mark, well there were quite a few.   Since there was a tail wind out of Custer east toward Rapid City, no one stayed very long to visit.  Gotta take advantage of those tail winds!  Rachel noted that when she stopped pedaling her odometer still registered 6 mph- all from the tail wind!  I drove off ahead to wait for them in Custer State Park.
    It was a beautiful ride through the park, mostly downhill and very pretty views.  Lots of wildlife were out and about and one rider was almost charged by a buffalo that wanted the road all to himself.  Judging by the line of cars creeping behind this lumbering beast, no one was arguing with him.  The buffalo was walking toward me in the left lane and I drove slowly by in the right lane.  I could have touched him, but better judgement prevailed and I didn't try. 
    The air temperature was pleasant and the cool stream invited riders to soak hot tired toes.  Scott was not feeling as chipper and strong as the previous day.  He was feverish and complaining of stomach pain.  He kept going.  
    The tail wind turned into a head wind as they group turned north toward Rapid City for the final 20 miles.  This road was heavily traveled, hilly and had a major detour that I am sure the riders found difficult.  With all the gravel and little to no shoulder, many were concerned about flat tires.  I didn't hear of too many, fortunately.
    I left Scott and headed closer to Camp Rapid (National Guard Camp).  I figured I had about 1-1/2 hours before he would meet me.  However, many riders went by that I knew were behind and I began to worry.  Once I saw Rachel ride by alone, I knew he was not coming.  I immediately headed for camp and found Scott in the Medical building flat on his back delirious with fever.  He tried to make it but his body and the flu just wouldn't let him and he called it a day 15 miles from camp.  Feeling bad about SAGging, he knew he was too sick to continue.  I took him back to the motel and made sure he was comfortable.  Fortunately, we had a day off to kick this thing.

Day 21 (July 4)
   Quite a few of the riders ventured out into the Black Hills last night for what was described as a fantastic fireworks show!  Scott and I didn't see those or any other fireworks.  Scott was sick and the fever was high and he couldn't eat anything.  Cold wash cloths to the forehead helped and plenty of rest and cool showers managed to reduce the fever.  By Sunday afternoon, his fever was gone and he felt better, not good, but better.  I managed to get him out for a few hours to see some of the sights the Rapid City area had to offer.  We drove down to Mt Rushmore and also saw the Crazy Horse sculpture.  The country side was beautiful and we drove into the Custer State Park on a loop back to Rapid City.
    Taking a slightly different route than the riders did the previous day, we were hoping to see more buffalo.  We saw a couple of buffalo in the street and marveled about how majestic there are.  Then, just around the bend we ran into (almost literaly) a whole heard of buffalo crossing from one side of the road to the other.  There were a few cars stopped in the middle of it all and soon our car was engulfed with whole families (mother and baby) crossing the street.  Big male buffalo stopped to roll in the dirt, taking turns in the same well worn, dug out spot.  The bulls made sure to pee in the dirt before rolling.  It must be some sort of male thing!  It was a sight to see all their tails "wagging" as if they were all so hapy to see us!
    Further down the road we stopped in the road for a dozen or so mules, with various colored coats.  They stuck their cute, harmless heads as far into the car as they could hoping to find food, or maybe a nice scratch on the nose.   Hopefully, they were satisfied with the scratch on the nose.  We also saw deer on this ride through the park.  I never saw such an abundance of healthy looking wildlife before.  Even Scott, feeling as puny as he did, thought the ride was worth it. 
    The rest of the day was spent resting and trying to get Scott to eat some food.  He was feeling better but still very weak from not eating and afraid that what he would eat would make him feel worse.  Applesause and 7Up and an attempt at pizza (it was his idea, but when it was in front of him, it didn't seem as appealing).
    Early to bed, 5:00 AM comes early and the ride continues to Kadoka -106 miles.

Day 22 (July 5)
   We weren't sure if Scott was going to feel well enough to continue riding to Kadoka today, but he wanted to give it a try.  He felt the tail winds and thought it was to good to pass up!  After a light breakfast (tummy still not 100%) he packed up to leave.  Then, he realized that he didn't have his wallet and remembered taking it out of his bike on Saturday.  We searched hi and lo in all of his stuff, but no wallet.  No one found one either.  This was unsettling. (Turns out he forgot to take it out of his tent on Saturday morning when he packed up in Newcastle!  Wheww!!)
    I finally got to meet some more of the group.  I met Dave and Laurie (who was attempting to actually pedal with both knees today! Go Laurie!), and Lisa.  I think I have met most of the Maple Leaf crowd now that Scott rides

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Lisa Kierstead Rider # 149 Canada

with.   Really nice folks!  They all started off together and I headed back to the motel (to search for the wallet).
    Since I had time to kill before my plane left, I drove out to the Badlands and met up with Scott on the way.  They were making good time- almost 20mph!  I managed to beep and wave on my way back from my sight seeing trip when they were approaching the half way point. (sorry I didn't stop for a hug, Scott..but I didn't want to stop your momentum!)  It looked like it would be a fast trip into Kadoka.
    Actually, the tail winds stopped shortly after I drove by and they encountered headwinds as they headed north into Kadoka.  They rode about 109 miles.  Scott was feeling good enough to have several steaks that night at dinner! (Stole a few from the vegetarians!).  He was going to rest early for tomorrow was still another long day.

Day 23 (July 6)
   Scott was feeling better today, but still not 100%.  There were no tail winds and cool weather to help push him to Pierre - 93.3 miles.  Instead, they had a headwind most of the way and the temperatures were in the 90's.  The riders faced a lot of hills (who said the plains were flat?!) and the scenery consisted mainly of crops of winter wheat.  They didn't pass through too many towns.
    Scott elected to wear his tennis shoes riding today and his foot bothered him.  So far, only the flip flops provide a pain free ride.   Never-the-less, he made it in to camp.  He was very wiped out but hopefully, his strength will

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This trailer is used when the riders stay at areas that do not offer toilet facilities.  It has AC, lights.  The boys side has two sinks, two johns and a pee trough. (I suppose the girls side is the same, but the pee trough is relaced by a couch!)

return and tomorrow will be easier.
    The riders are camped in a park on the Missouri River, by far their best location yet!  Many want to stay an extra day.  The Missouri River invites the riders to cool off from a long hot day and many of them enjoy a nice long swim.
    Tomorrow, they ride to Miller (the half way point!!) -72 miles.   Since they are heading due east, let's hope they pick up some tail winds!

Day 24 (July 7)
   Well, forget about the tail winds (We all thought the jet stream went west to east!).  Scott informed me late this afternoon that they encountered head winds the entire way into Miller, SD.  It was a hard day.  It started out bad with a flat tire (#2) before he even got started!  Scott experience an uncomfortable night (still having intestinal problems from the flu bug he's had), but woke up raring to go.  His flu is officially over, he claims.
    Most of the riders were not interested in stopping much along the way, today.  The headwinds were too strong and most feared that it  would get worse.  Keep going!  Gotta get to camp!!  We're almost there!!  I am sure they pumped themselves up to "Just DO it"!
    Once the riders approached Miller they found themselves in for a treat.  The town (pop. ~1600) had formed a "Big Ride Committee."   There was a band playing as they entered town and there were shuttles to transport the riders anywhere in town they needed to go.  Scott went to the bank, "Oh! You're on the Big Ride!" they would say.  When he went to do laundry, the same thing.  Even in the grocery store the people were excited to see him.  What a warm welcome!  It may have a little bit to do with the fact that Miller, SD puts them about 5 miles shy of half way there!  I think the town is planning a surprise along the route tomorrow.
    The local high school also provided the riders with free internet access.  Scott was able to get his email and make some personal replies to his supporters.  He downloaded some pictures which I promise to update by this weekend.
    They are riding through very pretty country, not many towns along the way.  Welcome to the Mid-West!  Tomorrow they head for DeSmet, a mere 77.5 miles (into more head winds?  Hope not).

Day 25 (July 8)
   The riders' sleep was abruptly interrupted around 4:30 AM when dark clouds brought roaring claps of thunder and spectacular displays of lightening.  Not quite like the Fourth of July, but some argued that lightening struck close to camp.  Some feared the threat of rain and packed up early while it was still dark. 

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Ted Ralphs getting stuff out of his bag.  All Riders store their gear in this truck.   Trailer is fitted with 2x4 plywood racks.  Each Rider has 22x22x36 inches of space to store gear

Others tried to get some more sleep, hoping that the bulk of the storm would pass over.  They woke to rain, but the storm had ended

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Devon (Hawaii) getting gear -You want to get up early and store your gear near the door.  Hall is narrow and the bags are BIG!  But, hey, this IS the BIG Ride!

and it was clearing up for the day's ride ahead.
    Scott missed breakfast.  He was feeling so good he just kept following the arrows marking the route all the way out of town!  He encountered crosswinds and headwinds and it was not something he wanted to face on an empty stomach.   He stopped at the first SAG stop (where they provide riders with some drink and support) which was near a very small town and asked if there might be a grocery nearby.   Fortunately, there was.  The floors were wooden and creaky, very old.  He managed to piece together a meal and waited for the others to catch up.
    About 30 miles into the ride they headed south, a bit, straight into headwinds and Wolsey, SD.  They enjoyed a burger and bemoaned the long ride ahead into headwinds.  Back on the road again.
    To there delight, however, shortly after leaving Wolsey, they headed east again and enjoyed tailwinds for the next 40 miles into camp!!  Hurray!  
    Halfway, in Huron, the town conducted a live radio show and interviewed George (Hawaii) while many of the riders, Scott, Dave and Rachel to name a few, watched.  They provided free watermelon and drinks during the brief stop.  Another Mid-West display of hospitality toward the Big Riders.  Scott noticed his front fender spoke (where it attaches to the wheel) had broken.  A local worker in a feed store offered to help.   He brought out a portable drill and some wire and rigged up an attachment that solved Scott's fender problem. (Did I mention, the Mid-West hospitality?)
    Scott and some of the riders took a nap in a hay field along the way.  There was a tractor near by so many of them decided to take pictures of themselves by the tractor.  A farm hand noticed them and stopped by to inquire about their business.  They enjoyed a hearty conversation about farming and the Big Ride for a while before heading back on the route.  Scott learned that they grow an engineered form of soybean they call "roundup." Apparently, it is immune to the Roundup weed killer which allows the farmers to employ that particular weed killer in the fields around the plants without harm to the crop.  Pretty neat.
    Camp in DeSmet was in another park in towm.  Scott rolled in at about 3:30 with plenty of time to set up his tent, dry out from the morning, shower and clean up.  The gang got together later to celebrate George's (Hawaii) 40th birthday.  Boy, two miles stones in one summer.
    The next day will see the riders crossing into state number 6 as they head toward Tyler, Minnesota, another 77 mile day ahead.

Day 26 (July 9)
   Had a pretty easy day today, tailwinds out of  DeSmet ALL the way!! This was good since most of them got to bed late the night before.  You see, they were celebrating George's (Hawaii)  40th birthday and they just had to have a beer in every bar in town...all three of them!  The party goers were allowed to sign the ceiling tiles in one bar.  They played pool, the jukebox, joked, relaxed and Scott got to meet some locals and more of the other Big Riders better.
    It seems that some of the Riders have been getting up before the sign, way earlier than most (but waking the others up with the zipping of their tents).   Rumor has it, and this has not been confirmed, that someone "zip-tied" some of the tent zippers last night (you can't open your tent when the zippers are tied together).  Maybe there is a connection there, hmmm.
    Scott  awoke at his usual early hour (George slept in today, until 6:30..wonder why) and headed to the high school for breakfast (he wasn't about to miss it this morning!).  He was in for a treat, salsa and eggs!  His favorite!  To top it all off,  they all started out in 20-25 mph tailwinds!   Scott commented that these tailwinds made the 77 miles seem like 45!   (It still seems like a lot to me).  They stopped at a truck stop because Rachel

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New shower truck.  We see Jerry and Pete after showering.  There are 6 shower stalls on the guys side (don't know how many are on the girls side...aren't you glad I don't know the answer to that? )  Yes!!!

had to wake up and needed some tea.  Normally the Riders avoid tea and other diuretics, but in this case the caffeine was a neccessity.  I am sure she wasn't the only one to require it. 
    While passing through Brookings, SD (Ron Goldsmith's home town) they visited a local bike shop.  After enjoying some pizza at the pit stop, they headed for Minnesota.
    They crossed into Minnesota at mile 60, in time to be greeted by Team Minnesota from the 1998 Big Ride.  They brought along several "funny" bikes for this year's Riders to try out.  One had a really big front wheel.   Another was jointed so the front and rear wheels didn't have to be in the same plane.  Yet another bike allowed

the rider to do sommersaults! (I guess it had a cage and when you put on the front brakes, it flipped over and you did a roll-crazy..)  Scott reports that they all had a blast riding them.
    The area must be noted for its wind because they rode by a wind farm. Scott used to work at a wind farm in Tehachapi, CA.  Of course, he had to stop and visit.  This particular farm is run by Zond and has 143 turbines spread out over 14 miles of countryside.  Each turbine is a 750 mega-watt electric turbine, made by Zond.  They stopped in the office to talk with the staff a bit about the Tehachapi operation, got some literature, signed the

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The Riders using free internet access at local high school in Tyler, MN

guestbook and then went on their way.
    They sailed into camp at 3:00 PM.  Camp in Tyler was at the Fairgrounds.  The local 4H group met them with pie and ice cream.  Scott enjoyed his favorite, apple pie with vanilla ice cream.  A pretty perfect day, I'd say.   After showers and dinner, they got a chance to use the internet at the local high school.
    Just to show you how little 77 miles seem after riding three weeks, about 6 of the Riders decided to ride all the way to New Ulm- 166 miles.  All for the sake of an extra day off! (The Riders head to New Ulm tomorrow and then rest on Sunday)  I guess if you have strong tailwinds, why not!
    Most of the Riders, Scott included, are planning on an early night.  I hear yawns from others waiting to use the phone, even.  Tomorrow they head to New Ulm, where they can look forward to another well deserved rest day on Sunday.   They have 89 miles tomorrow and only 2 more rest days (after New Ulm) on the trip!   Getting closer everyday.

Day 27 (July 10)
Today was not one of the best days on the Big Ride so far.  Three people got injured today along the route from Tyler to New Ulm, MN.  The road (Hwy 14) was a terrible road for bikers.  It was rough with narrow shoulders and lots of traffic.  There was a differential height between the road and the shoulder, sometimes with separation (cracks) and this is hazardous to riders.  Apparently, Connie's (?) wheel got lodged in a crack and sent her crashing.   Babette (FL) fell into Connie before she could stop.  Both were taken to the hospital. Scott reportedly saw Babette that evening, but wasn't sure if Connie was released yet.  Nothing life threatening, thankfully.  I will update you when I hear more.
    Another rider was hit by a car while riding on that same road.   Stan Kehl (Not sure of the spelling) was side swiped by the mirror of a yellow mustang (whose driver, oddly enough, was on his way to see some bike races).  The driver felt really bad.  Stan was sent to the hospital, but has been released and was seen walking around camp.
    Apparently some of the locals in Minnesota are as rough as the roads.  Some individuals were apprehended after throwing water ballons at some of the Riders during the route.  Scott wasn't sure just what was going to happen to them, but I believe charges were going to be filed against them.  Some people have no respect.
Scott had flat # 4 today, probably from the gravel on this rough road.  He also had a flat yesterday (#3) when he detoured to see the wind farm.  Three of the four flats were this week.  Hopefully, it isn't a trend.
    On the brighter side, Nate, the young son of Chris (around 11 or so), the bike repair doctor, road his first day of the ride.  He made all 89 miles with no problem.  Way to go Nate!
    The riders had a mixture of tailwinds, crosswinds and headwinds today.  The towns are coming closer together now as they head east toward more populated areas.  They are passing small farms, one really bad smelling pig farm in particular-ugh, in contrast to the more open rangelands they had been used to seeing in Wyoming and South Dakota.  The crops now are still wheat, but include more corn and varieties of  beans.  Many silos dot the country side.
    Scott took a small detour from the route to see a sod house a local man had built.  Apparently he built a large sod house and a smaller "bachelor" dugout.  He fixed them up and sells tours.  He has about a 10 acre plot of land reverted back to prairie grasses.  He wanted to reproduce, as much as possible, the way the pioneers lived in the 1800's.  The large sod house is furnished with antiques and quilts and is rented out as a Bed and Breakfast.  Scott found it interesting.
    The weather has been cooperating with temperatures in the 70's and 80's most of the day.  Still hot enough, though, for a trip to the Dairy Queen.   (I get the impression that ice cream is a sought out delight on this ride.)   They rolled into a treeless (therefore, shadeless) camp around 4:30 at the the local elementary school.  The junior high school next door had plenty of shade trees.   The riders looked longingly at the shade on the other side of the fence as they set up there tents in the hot sun.  I think they know how the cows feel now- the grass is always greener on the other side!
    New Ulm (pop. ~ 13,000) was putting on a German Festival so a group of riders decided to partake of the festivities.  There was a $5.00 entrance fee, but I think many of the Riders enjoyed themselves.  The town brought bands in from Germany so it was pretty authentic.  Tents were set up for various activities.   One tent had people (and some energetic Big Riders) dancing the Polka.   Another tent conducted a lively, spirited German songfest!  After a few beers (I assume good German beer!), Scott called it a night. 
    He sounded really tired when I talked to him-weary even.  I think the day-in and day-out riding is taking its toll.  I think some may need more than a days rest every week or so (At least this far into the ride...).  Hopefully, Scott can rest up and feel refreashed  tomorrow and get caught up on his journal.

Day 28 (July 11)
   This rest day in New Ulm, MN was really taken seriously by Scott and some of the other Riders.  Scott told me that he didn't do anything today having to do with the Big Ride (except clean out his water bottles).  Instead, he rested, did a bit of shopping and took in a movie at the local cinema.  No laundry, no bike tune ups.  I think it was truly a relaxing day for them.  Scott did write a bit in his journal, but we are still behind there.  I will do my best to light a fire under him.  I am sure that all of you reading this daily, really are anxious to hear his perspective.
    Tomorrow the Riders head to Owatonna, MN -70 miles.  They are approaching the 2000 mile mark of their journey.

Day 29 (July 12)
   Even though there were no tailwinds to speak of, actually no winds of any kind, the ride today was considered an "easy" one.  Scott and his friends rode from New Ulm to Owatonna, MN, about 70 miles.   They passed through farmland and several small towns.  It was a warm day, very humid.  The sky had lots of puffy white clouds.
    The quest for ice cream (and a new pair of sandles for Rachel) forced Scott to stop in Mankato, about 25 miles into the day.  After a Blizzard at the local Dairy Queen, they pedaled over to Walmart and Kmart in search

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Rachel Pilley Rider # 82

of sandles.  First I thought that Scott had convinced Rachel (his riding partner) to ride with sandles or flip-flops like he has been doing for the last few weeks (I actually brought his clip in bike shoes home  with me from Rapid City because he wasn't using them).  Alas, she has more sense than that.  She was only replacing her camp sandles that had broken the night before.  Although she liked wearing her bike shoes to ride in, they were not the shoe of choice to relax around camp in.
    Most of the ride must have been uneventful and they rode into camp at their usual time.  Camp in Owatonna was at the fairgrounds.  Again, this Mid-West town pulled out the stops for the Big Riders as they welcomed them to their home.   The Mayor came out to say hello and there was a live band playing for their enjoyment.  The food was extremely good, offering full entrees of enchiladas, chicken, manicotti, pasta primevera, salad and vegetables.
    Tonight was a laundry night.  The ride tomorrow into Winona is 87 miles, hopefully, another "easy" day.

Day 30 (July13)
   Scott and the others had a long ride today- 90 miles into Winona.   Two storms dumped rain on the Riders.  Scott and others held up in a Dairy Queen in Rochester- how convenient!  Always the need for ice cream!.  The second storm had them huddling in a Quick Mart convenience store.  The rain cleared up in the afternoon.
    They encountered winds from the south today which appear as cross winds to ride in.  It was a bit gusty at times.   No flats today for Scott, yippee!  Not much exciting the rest of the day.  They climbed rolling hills, more uphill than downhill.  They were treated to a nice downhill into the Mississippi valley when they entered Winona.
    Camp is at the University and they are treated to real beds tonight in the dorms.  They are looking forward to a short day tomorrow (65 miles) as they head into Viroqua, Wisconsin (state number 7).

Day 31 (July 14)
   It was a long day today (in more ways than one).  The route map had a five mile error on it so instead of 65 miles into Viroqua, Wisconsin, it was 70 miles.   Funny how the extra 5 miles makes it a "long" day.  Yesterday, 65 miles was a "short" day.
    They road with strong headwinds for much of the day as they headed southeast.  The winds subsided a bit when they got to the stateline.   They encountered steep hills, no rain, but hot, humid temperatures (95 degrees).   The bridge over the stateline was a rough one.  Scott lost his cyclometer and a water bottle that "jump" out of his pack and rolled away.  Fortunately, he realized that his computer was missing and went back to get it.  It didn't suffer any noticeable damages.  The water bottle is relatively easy to replace.
    Scott stopped for a burger and fries for lunch.  I didn't get a report of any Dairy Queen visits today.  The Riders rode past a lake where some young kids were swimming and swinging from a tree rope into the water.  Of course, with the temperatures like they were, the invite from the kids to join in was eagerly accepted.  Scott enjoyed some cooling off as the Riders took turns swinging from the rope into the lake.
    Viroqua is a small town and I gathered that they were camping at another school athetic field.  Tomorrow is a really long day into Madison- 106 miles.   Temperatures continue to be hot.

Day 32 (July 15)
   Scott woke up late today, around 6:30 AM.  There are still some Riders that wake up before the sun comes up and he ends up falling back to sleep and waking up later than usual.  Even though breakfast was supposed to be served until 8:00 AM, there was little and not hot food left by 6:30!  They were even tearing down the portable toilets at 6:30!  Crazy.  Scott figured that since it was long ride today, most people left way earlier than usual.
    They encountered some headwinds today and lots of steep hills.   Scott claims that " The toughest mountain range we had to climb was in Wisconsin!!"  Wait until he hits the Appalachiens!  On top of the hilly terain, the temperatures were hot and humid (97 degrees!).  It was a beat me down day. 
    They stopped at about mile 30 for some more food- a burger at a local cafe.  Then they rode past small farms, mostly dairy cows.  They grow corn together with alfalfa here along contours to prevent erosion.  The alflafa puts out nitrogen and the corn needs it to flourish, so it is a convenient partnership. 
    It was a pretty ride.  They had the road pretty much to themselves as it meandered past hardwood forests, babbling brooks, and plenty of Brown-eyed Susans and other wildflowers.  There was also the standard plethora of dead deer and other road kill!
    The route zigzagged back and forth, making a 75 mile straight shot on the highway, about 106 miles.  It was nice getting off the main roads for a while, though.  One section of the road was under construction (for the past 3 weeks-the scouts should have known this and rerouted us) and offered us soft gravel to ride on for at least a mile or more.  Not a good thing on bikes!  You worry about kicking up rocks and mostly, flat tires.  Scott made it through without a flat.  
    Another interesting thing in Wisconsin.  Directional road signs are illegal in the state so the Ride crew couldn't put up their usual orange caution signs or yellow arrow to help mark the route.  Scott had to resort to finally following his route map!
    The route went past the home and museum of Frank Lloyd Wright.   Some Riders like George (Hawaii)  took a

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George Kobayshi Rider # 3 Hawaii

tour of Talisman- one of the homes he built.
    There were no reports of ice cream or Dairy Queens again today.   I am sure as soon as they get to Lisle, and their rest stop, they will scope out the local ice cream haunts. 
    Rosie bought an inflatable cow with udders to use as a mascot by her tent at night.  It stands about 2-1/2 feet tall and says something about Wisconsin- Dairyland on the side.  I guess it is pretty funny.  If you ever get a chance to meet Rosie, like I have, you will understand the humor behind it.
    Scott and others stopped by a local bar about 15 miles from Madison to have a burger.  They arrived into camp late, about 6:00 PM, tired and eady for BEDS!  Yep, camp tonight is another University dorm.  They camped at the University of Wisconsin (The Badgers are arch football rivals of Scott's Penn State Nitnany Lions!)  The university provided sheets for the beds, little soap bars and towels for the showers.  They were treated very well.  I think it is the last cushy digs for the remainder of the trip, though.
    One of the riders had to leave the group today for rather sad reasons.  Babette, who was injured in a crash earlier in the week, has decided to go home.  The injuries weren't the reason, though, her father died.  We all wish her well.
    Well, two more riding days until they rest!  Today they cross into Illinois, the 8th state on their journey.  They head into Belvidere, IL- 80 more miles down the road, only 1100 more miles to go!

Day 33 (July 16)
   After a restful night in cushy dorm beds (and many slept in late, like even 8:00 AM!) Scott awoke later than usual.  The sun wasn't peaking through his tent to wake him up, and the early risers' tent zipper sounds didn't disturb him either.   They had a great breakfast in the meal commons complete with popsicles!  He was on the road by 7:00 AM.

    The scenery was similar to yesterday, hilly, plenty of farmland and dairy cows, corn and alflafa crops.  About 40 miles into the route at 10:00 AM, it was already in the low 90's.  I think they are entering the famous heat wave in the east.  It will be official as soon as they cross into Indiana in a few days (EasternTime Zone).
    Scott went at a pretty fast clip today, about 20-21 mph riding with Stan for most of the day. Rachel's knees were bothering her (just now?) and she elected to take a slower pace.  They rode fast and stopped for little, even food and water.  I think they were on a mission!  Scott helped Stan with his back rim.   Apparently the spokes were so tight, they were poking through and the rim was failing.  I assume they adjusted it enough to keep going.  I am sure the bike doctor (Chris) will get another customer tonight.
    They crossed into Illinois and noticed that the surroundings were more urban than they were previous days.  They are approaching the Chicago area and I bet it gets even more urban until they hit Ohio.  Along with the urban digs, comes, unfortunately, road rage.  Scott was called a loser as he climed a hill, and yet another yelled at him to ride on the sidewalk!  Some trucks come frighteningly close just to scare the Riders and others are being called racial names.  It is hard to believe, but true.  I guess dense populations statistically will have more of these unfortunate soles.  I hope it doesn't continue.  The world needs more kind soles like the lady at the VFW who helped Scott find a phone to call me. (Thank you! You had no idea how badly I needed that call.)
    They rolled into camp early today, around 1:30..not bad for 80 miles!  They are camped in a public park, tents all huddled together.  I imagine it is a pretty sight to see all the various wild and bright colors of these domed homes in such a small space.  The group was bussed to the First Baptist Church for dinner which consisted of meatloaf, taco salad casserole, pasta and such.  It was received rather well. 
    Many of the Riders had a hard day with the temperatures so hot and humid.  It reached 97 degrees again.  Those that didn't hydrate enough from the really long and hot day yesterday, were hurting today.  It is a relatively short day into Lisle tomorrow- 64 miles, but if they don't get enough food and drink (plenty of electrolytes) they will feel like it is 164.

Day 34 and Day 35 (July 17-18)
   The Riders awoke to rain, and plenty of it.  The ride to Lisle was miserable for the first 50 miles or so.  It was pouring like cats and dogs.  By the time they reached the check point at the 50 mile mark the rain had reduced to a drizzle.  It tried to clear up later in the afternoon.
    Some Riders stopped and toured the Fermi lab on the way, but not much else would slow their drive to camp and another rest day.  They camped at a Benedictine university-no dorms, but the use of the gym shower facilities was welcomed.
    The rest day was just that.  Sunday morning found Scott sleeping in past breakfast-even the past the one you pay for after the free one is over.   We chatted a good while on the phone today-serious stuff.  Scott opted not to take a shuttle into Chicago with many others because it was too hot and muggy.   Instead, he did laundry and caught a movie with friends. 
    It is hot and muggy sleeping tonight.  Tomorrow is a long day, 102 miles, into La Porte, Indiana.  Yep, they cross into their 9th state.   The miles are adding up and they have only 800 miles left!!  They also cross into the Eastern TIme Zone today, so remember that when expecting phone calls. 
    Tomorrow's ride takes them through the urban areas south of Chicago.  Judging by last years ride, it could very well be the worst riding day yet.   To top it off, they expect severe thunderstorms most of the day and evening.   I think they will try to get an early start and power their way to camp.

Day 36 (July 19)
   It started raining in the early morning as the Riders got off to the start of another long, difficult day.  The good thing about the rain is that it kept the temperatures low, in the 70's and 80's.  In the afternoon when the sun came out, the heat shot back up into the mid-90's.
    It was a 102 mile day through busy urban areas.  Two riders crashed today, Liz Fritz and Kristi (V.I.).  Liz got her wheel caught between the road surface and the edge of the road.  She has some cuts and bruises, but is ok.   Kristi got hit by a truck while going through an intersection.  It threw her from her bike and she suffered a broken nose and some chipped teeth.  I believe she was seen in camp later in the day, so she is also ok.  The roads were very busy, lots of heavy traffic and debris.  One section of the route was under construction and the loose gravel and debris caused many a flat tire.
    Camp is in La Porte, Indiana at the fairgrounds.  The town gave the Riders a warm welcome complete with ice cream and a live band for their entertainment.  Many folks in town came out to greet two of the 1999 Riders that are from La Porte, Larry ? and Ken Bender.  The welcome signs and warm hospitality made for a nice welcome after a long, hard day.
    Tomorrow, they head to Kendallville, Indiana -88 miles.  I think they will be heading east and away from the dense urban sprawl.

Day 37 (July 20)
   Scott and others got a rather late start today as one of the local Riders took about 25 of them on a tour of the Foundry in Kendallville.  They saw how metal was cast into parts- very interesting side trip.
    They finally got on the road about 9:00 AM.  There was cloud cover for most of the 90 mile ride today.  That made the temperatures tolerable and the ride more pleasant.  They passed dairy farms and small towns.  They passed through a Mennonite community and rode by many horse drawn carraiges.  The Riders stopped and visited with some of them and the locals reminisced about the Riders that came through last year.
    Another farm took on familiarity as a rest stop.  Rosie's (ME) family owns a farm along the route and the Big Ride group planned a rest stop there.   It was probably nice for Rosie and her family to reunite briefly on the ride.   I wonder if she showed them her inflatable cow!
    Dinner was served about 3 miles from camp, so many just stopped to eat before riding the entire distance into camp and setting up.  Scott was one of those.  Although he hadn't actually seen camp when I spoke with him, he believed it to be in a park by a lake.  Sounds like a swim will be the event of the evening.
    Tomorrow, the group heads across yet another state-#10, to Napoleon, Ohio.  It is a shorter day with only 70 miles ahead of them.  National weather indicates rain in the area, but maybe they will just get more cloud cover.

Farewell (July 24)
   Well, this it it, the moment that I (Pat) have been dreading for a little over a week now.  I am afraid that I will no longer be able to perform my website and journal update duties.  After 10 years, Scott and I have parted ways.  We always knew that The Big Ride was the kind of event that would change our lives, but I guess I wasn't counting on this type of change.  Spending 6 weeks in close quarters with people can only increase the chances that you could meet and fall in love with someone else.  Scott has done just that.
    I am disappointed to not be able to finish the Ride, even if my participation has been from a distance.  I feel like I have got to know many of the Riders through stories and adventures that have I have written about on the day-to-day grind of riding across the country.  I will never get to meet them.  I was scheduled to go to D.C., to be there when everyone rode enmass across the finish line.   How emotional that would have been, how proud I am of all of them.  I have been asked not to come.
    So, my friends, I am sorry to abandon you, but it is too painful for me to continue.  For those of you that rely on the route maps everyday, they are still available if you click on "See the whole route and towns along the way" link toward the bottom of the first page.  As far as the weather goes, will get you to the place where all you have to do is type in the city and it will give you the forecast.   Please keep following the adventure this last week with the Roving Reporter and with Landon's marvelous website.  They are excellent reporters and will get you through to the end of the Ride.  Thanks for following along and goodbye to all of you.
   Scott, I will always love you.