Taking the Challenge
10 years ago, I completed a series of races called the Austin Distance Challenge. Six races, each about a month apart, starting with a 10k and working up to the Austin Marathon. My goal at the time was merely to make the podium in my age division, and in the end, I won my age division and came ...
Only 100 miles from my intended destination, I had to call it quits and go to a hospital, all because I accidentally touched a plant. Couldn't I simply apologize to the plant or something?
A week later, I got my hospital bill: $1,397.00. I saw a doctor and a nurse for less than 10 minutes. No tests, no equipment used. All they did was look at my a...
Climbing out of Belden meant going uphill for 14 miles straight. No part of that was steep, but hours upon hours of climbing will wear on you. Throw in the unusual heat, due to Belden's abnormally low elevation, and I was glad I was doing it in the morning. I was even more glad it turned out to be a rare cloudy day on the PCT.
I managed t...
On the way out of Sierra City, a SoBo hiker had told me about the best Trail Magic he'd seen, at Bucks Lake, a couple days away.
"You get to the road, and there's a sign, 'Trail Magic,' this guy lets you stay at his house, he cooks breakfast, lunch, and dinner, he drives you back to the trail. Best day I've...
Hitting the Brakes
While zeroing in Lake Tahoe, I took the opportunity to buy a plane ticket home. Running the numbers, it became clear that I could slow down a lot and still make it on time. Up until Lake Tahoe, my average distance had been almost exactly a marathon. After two days of 45 and 40 km immediately after leaving South Lake Tahoe, mostly to get ahead of ...
They were less than 10 miles to hike before I'd make it to South Lake Tahoe. Just before I got there, my first "true" Trail Magic. A PCT alumnus named Coppertone travels up the trail each summer in his van, handing out cookies, granola bars, and most notably, root beer floats. This was the first time I'd caught him. He tends to move up the trail at the pa...
After not taking a proper shower for 500 miles of hiking (nor doing laundry in that time), I had built up a significant layer of dead skin on the bottoms of my feet, especially my heels. One day, the dead skin on my left heel started to crack open, taking healthy skin underneath with it. Two days later, my right heel cracked. Walking became painful, usual...
While the most difficult passes were behind, that didn't mean there was nothing difficult left. Despite being 1,000 ft lower, most of the remaining passes still had some snow. Less snow, but it was still there. So were the rocks and mud.
The mosquitoes, in particular, have gotten worse every day. Normally, mosquitoes are most active at...
In the High Sierra section of the PCT, the most daunting challenge is the series of passes. By strange coincidence, the highest passes are the farthest south, the first that most hikers get to, and they get shorter as you go. None of them are as high as Mount Whitney, of course, but they're a challenge nonetheless. In some ways, more so.
Up Into the Highest Mountains
Leaving Kennedy Meadows the same day I arrived, I managed to get seven miles under my belt before dark. I camped with Sam and Connor, two good friends who were hiking together. They where both from Duke University. I suggested the collective name "The Two Devils."
A lot of climbing the next day. At around noon, you could look across a ...
After the cabin at the sulphurous spring, it was all downhill to a highway crossing, where there was a water cache at a picnic table in the shade. About four of us arrived at roughly the same time and hung out there before crossing the highway to take on the answering giant hill. My sore throat hadn't going away, and now it was joint buy a headache and a ...
Hop, Skip, and Jump
The last dozen or so miles into Agua Dulce involved one hill that was tougher than expected, but other than that, not terrible. Unless you plan to haul an extraordinary amount of water, you have to walk half a mile off-trail to get water from a KOA. While there, an injured hiker named Monica bought me a soda.
I had been looking forward to hikin...
Mile for mile, the San Gabriel Mountains have more climbing been any other section of the Pacific Crest Trail. More than the Sierra, more than the Cascades, a lot more than in some places. The hills don't reach the highest elevation, but the trail is almost always going up or down, often quickly.
Case in point: the 30 km climb out of C...
In Which Coyote Makes a Friend
The day after a full day of rest, or a "Zero Day," it can be hard to get going. Sleeping in gets addictive, and once you go all day without having to pack up your things, you don't want to have to do it again. That's why I prefer to do "Near-Os," or half days. You still get almost a full day of rest without breaking your routine.
The area aroun...
The area around Idyllwild is, by a long shot, the highest elevation the PCT reaches by that point. That meant a few things: For one, more trees. For another, less heat. But even though the hills weren't any steeper, I was hiking a lot slower. After almost an entire day, it finally clicked: the altitude was probably doing it.
I had to s...
Hot Pink Bandana
The lack of stakes was thankfully a non-issue for that first night. I woke up and rubbed my neck. It stung. I rubbed my head. It stung more. I'd have to figure something out. Sunscreen alone wasn't doing the job. I tried putting my spare underwear on my head. No use, the sun would shine right through the leg hole. Something else, maybe...?
In the 24 hours before hitting the trail I was driven to and from my school's graduation ceremony by Brantley, driven to the airport by Daron, flown to San Diego, then was driven from the airport to the trailhead by a Trail Angel named Carrie. At the end of all that, I was ready to be moving on my own power. After an obligatory photo at those starting poi...
An undertaking like hiking the Pacific Crest Trail requires a certain fortitude. It's not particularly physically hard to do - it's barely more than walking. It's the mental aspect that's difficult. And it's not so much the things you have to do, it's the things you have to give up. Showers, beds, clean clothes, hot food...
There are lots of reaso...
As I’m a numbers guy, and a little over-analytical, I have a tendency to think about my gear a lot. When you’re hiking or biking all day, you have a lot of time to think anyway, and when your mind’s not on food, it’s often on your gear. You start to wish you’d brou...
As I've been looking ahead at likely resupply points, it's noticeable that not only are they far apart, they're well off-trail. Hitchhiking into and out of town, in addition to grocery shopping, would probably take half a day. So when you figure that 34 km/day is the average, you have to keep i...
With the PCT less than two weeks away, I'm somewhat out-of-shape. Oh, sure, I could run a half-marathon on a whim, but that's nothing compared to where I was only four months ago. For hiking the PCT, it's not entirely necessary to be a competitive endurance runner, but it doesn't hurt.
Where I'm At
Training has been off and on lately. Without an event to train for, it’s hard to stay diligent. After running the Austin Marathon, I was running every other day at best and gained 7 kg in only a couple weeks.
Summer Plans 2018
As usual, my summer plans include disappearing on a long hiking/biking trip. But where? It's a big world out there. I've begun compiling a bucket list of adventures to go on: bike touring in Australia, kayaking the Amazon, biking across Africa (I'd eventually like to bike across all six inhabited continents). My idea is to d...
Big Data, Lots of Shoes
So I have a lot of running shoes. Say hello to the family:
A couple of these are retired, and a few more are getting close, but it’s s...
After a period of lackadaisical training, I'd started taking things seriously two weeks before the Austin Marathon...just in time to start tapering. Nevertheless, I felt good about the race going in.
At the same time, I had no idea what time I should be aiming for. Most of my training had been on trail, not pavement, and Wimberley is a hilly en...
Emerging from the Depths
After the Bandera 100k, I was totally burnt out on running. What could top that? What was left to do? Somehow, the Tinajas 100k didn't seem important anymore. Originally, I had intended that to be my signature run of the season, but after I'd already beaten my loftiest goal by almost half an hour, it was hard to see a point. Not to mention $140, virtually...
Post Bandera 100k
continued from Bandera 100k
After a couple hours of driving, Daron dropped me off back at home. I took a shower, drank a beer, called my parents, ate s...
Woke up at 5:30, exactly two hours before gun time. Not because I needed two hours to go through any kind of pre-race routine, but only to give myself some extra time to let breakfast settle. Oatmeal with cinnamon, a handful of nuts, and a banana. Perhaps a bit more oatmeal than I needed...and ...
Bandera 100k, Pre-Race
A certain nervous excitement sets in when you're about to take on a race longer than you ever have before. It doesn't matter what distance it is, or how prepared you are or aren't. I had the same feeling before my first marathon, my first 50-miler, and even my first 5k, which seems laughable now. In the weeks leading up to the Bandera 100k, and especially...
Nervously Feelin' Good
Haven't updated here in a while.
Training wasn't great in November. Not terrible, but not as good as it could be. After missing only one day of training each in the months of July through October, November had three zero days, and early December had two. Related or not, I gained a few kg, too.
After Thanksgiving, I seemed to re-d...
Right around late September, training took a step backward. I was still getting in a run every day, and for the most part, still making the distance I needed to. But my pace suffered and I didn't feel good when I ran. A huge part of getting through long-distance races is attitude and an overall sense of well-being while you run. That wasn't ...
Now well into September, the air has cooled down...barely. In the meantime, it gets dark almost an hour earlier. It doesn't seem fair to lose that much daylight without losing any heat.
Luckily, improvement continues. On any given route, short or long, my average pace has decreased by roughly 10 seconds/km. Another 10 or so is as fast as I had hop...
Heat remains my nemesis. I've been dealing with it a little better recently. Stopping to wring out your shirt a few times during a run helps you keep going. It's when you get to the point that your shorts are entirely drenched and stuck to your thighs that you start thinking "I've had enough of this." And unfortunately, you can't just p...
As previously announced, plans are to run an ultramarathon this spring. In particular, the Tinajas 100k in Colorado Bend State Park.
I haven't taken running seriously since I lived in California, four years ago. I'm still in shape generally speaking, but nowhere near the runner I used to be. It'll be a while before I can expect to hold a 4:00/km p...
Hard to figure out what to say in retrospect for this one. This tour felt very "standard". All of it within the continental United States, relatively short, no extremes in any way. Although it included my second-longest single day of riding, 257 km, and this tour had the highest average daily distance, at 136.6 km.
Part of that is almost certainly...
The Last Leg
The Final update,
I have to apologize for not posting this update at the ending of the trip. So many things were happening and as soon as we got back there was more than a lot to do. None the less, the final leg.
Beeville to our finishing stop (I called it the...
The morning I left Arkansas, first fog of the tour. It hurts visibility, but gives the world a certain magical quality.
I impulsively changed my intended route when I saw a sign pointing down a county road, calling it a "Scenic Bike Route". A glance at the map showed it would go the same place eventually and cover no more distanc...
It wasn't raining when I left Gamaliel, only after a heaping breakfast of sausage and eggs prepared by Don, though it was in the forecast and had that look. It was a cool, cloudy morning, but already felt steamy, due to all the rain the days before. Had to go around a long way because a road was five meters underwater.
A couple hours i...
I was thankfully leaving St. Louis early on a Saturday, when there wouldn't be much traffic. Even better, there was a road that made a straight shot out of town, due south along the Mississippi, and it had a shoulder or bike lane almost the whole way. Even then, it took almost half the day before I was out of the St. Louis area. None of it was unmanageabl...
On the Trail
I left Kansas City before Matt or Kim were awake. It was a weekday, so getting outta town before rush hour sounded like a good idea. Stopped to see a sculpture garden on the way. I could've sworn I saw The Thinker in an art museum at Stanford University. Is there more than one copy?
Followed some trails part of the way ...
As opposed to every other day on the plains thus far, there was headwind on the way out of Great Bend. A lot of it.
A few hours later, not having moved much after listening to a thundering in my ears all morning, I looked around and noticed something. The sky had gotten dark. In basically every direction. This didn't bode well. Before ...
Things Looking up
(Uploaded post completion of the trip)
Trying to get sleep in Stockdale at 12 pm is a challenge. Let me just tell you. All the wind we had fought getting there seemingly gone and it was HOT, it probably wasn't until 2 am that it had fallen below 90 degrees and my exhaustion had caught up. We woke up promptly to our alarms at 6...
Flying On Plains
I was still in the mountains, technically, for the first half of the day. All I had to do was follow a river downstream. No climbing, and no downhills good enough to coast, either. Simply an easy ride along a river, often my favorite kind of riding, and the kind of place where, when on family road trips, my brother would keep looking out the window, excla...
My legs, they burn!
Today was the official start of the bike trip let me share how it went
Me and the guys left the high school parking lot promptly at 6:40
and began the trip. And man I tell you what it felt good! We knocked out the miles going out of Wimberley and into San Marcos in a flash it fel...
The Last of the Rockies
The first day into Colorado was, as expected, mostly flat. Somehow, Colorado has a reputation as "the" mountain state, even though it's flatter than half the western states. Possibly because it's the easiest mountain state to get to from the east coast, so these are the only mountains a lot of people see.
The day included a memorable d...
Before leaving Bryce Canyon, I went back to one of the overlooks to see if it looked different in morning light compared to afternoon. It did.
Then I went for a hike in the canyon. The overlooks still produced the best views, but it's fun to get up close and personal with the scenery.
By the ...
Runnin' Against the Wind
After a restful night in "Cell 140" at the Jailhouse Motel, I got breakfast in the restaurant next to the casino. Stuck to the omelette theme and got a country omelette, one with sausage and white gravy. Came with hash browns and a scone. Not bad for $7.
Out of Ely, there was...wind, again, and starting late after having breakfast didn't help, ...
Taking off to Ride off
Taking off to Ride off
Well, this the is the last day of my preparatory training. Rotating between running and biking everyday has gotten me about ready for this bike trip.
But if only it was that simple. Im currently flying to Denver to eventually end up in Colorado Springs wh...
The Loneliest Road
Until only a day before, the plan was to camp at Sand Moutain State Rec Area. I figured with a title like that, and with camping available, there would be water. Nope! The nearest source of water was 40 km away, and there wasn't much in the way of camping either. As the name indicates, it's a big pile of sand, and you're allowed to camp there.
The Mountain Sea
Sutter Creek sits at about 300 m of elevation. Lake Tahoe, 1,800 m. It's surrounded by a rim of mountains, and the highest pass I'd have to cross reaches 2,600 m. The entire day would essentially be one long uphill, followed by 15 km of coasting down to the lake.
After a hearty breakfast and a goodie bag (thanks!), I set of "early," at least by...
Annnd, We're Off!
My aunt Mary and I rode bikes to Land's End together for the ceremonial wheel dip. The ride had officially begun! A thoroughly enjoyable breakfast followed, whereupon Mary came up with a brilliant solution for my once-in-each-state ritual. As I wolfed down my Seal Rock omelette (Bay shrimp and Spanish sauce), she suggested having an omelette in each state...
A New Hope (and bike)
Well, the day has arrived. and actually a little sooner than I thought. After I sold a high-end marker from my paintball escapades and after a paycheck or two enter in my new bike
(if picture doesn't work I apologize I'm trying to figure it out)
Now, I've got no idea what to name her yet but after more t...
Kickin' Off In Style
A graduation ceremony, two wheels rebuilt at the last minute. A flight with over a dozen passengers under the age of five. Packing, unpacking, and reassembling a bike in an airport terminal. A ride from the airport to downtown Oakland. A wedding. A trip across the bay to San Francisco. And the tour hasn't even started yet.
Only a week before,...
Training for Wimberley to Corpus
So I think today would be an excellent time to start the journal of the prep for the Wimberley to Corpus Christy trip.
Preston (one of the members of the trip) picked up his new bike yesterday, a Trek something something 3, carbon forked and pretty nice honestly. We decided the real first trial by fire rid...
Loaded and Broken
Like it or not, there’s virtually no way to be fully trained for a bike tour. No job pays the bills and comes with enough free time to go for a nine-hour bike ride on a daily basis. If I knew of such a job, I’d have it.
The closest you can come is to ride a ...
When it comes to bike touring, there's no getting around it - your bike is gonna weigh a lot. On top of using a bike that's heavy-duty enough to withstand the load put on it, you've gotta carry a bunch of stuff. Enough to survive with for months at a time.
The weight of your bike + gear has less to do with getting the latest greatest lightest...
Riding for Camp Good Sam
I'm happy to announce that the details have been worked out, and this summer, I'm riding for a worthy charity! Camp Good Samaritan is a non-profit organization that puts on summer camps for underpriveliged children.
Any educator will tell you a child's environment outside of school is as important as their environment in school, if not more so. Du...
So It Begins
In a previous entry, I was mulling over which adventure to go on this summer. Australia? Southeast Asia? Pacific Crest Trail?
The decision has been made, and it's a little more grounded: I'll ride a bike from San Francisco, CA to St. Louis, MO. A coast-to-coast ride had appea...
Another summer is approaching, and thanks to my job, that means another chance for adventure!
This time I'm having trouble settling on one. Time and money are the issues; I have two months maximum, and probably less, since I should spend some time preparing for next school year. And money's an issue because it always is, isn't it?
In any c...
Love Thy Neighborhood
Moving means many things - a new home, often a new job, new friends and neighbors. But as much as anything else, it means new opportunities to go out and explore.
I recently moved back to my favorite part of Texas - the beautiful Hill Country. Few outsiders realize the full extent of landscapes found in Texas: swampy wetlands along the border of L...
The First Hike
I woke with a start.
To be continued....
Note: The following is an anecdote related by one of our admins. While we don't take sides in personal matters, we felt the story was important enough to share, and we stand by its general message and sentiment.
A brick-and-mortar bike shop can sometimes be a powerful ally when preparing for a bike tour. Good advice, help in ordering an ap...
Over the Shoulder
Though I was "done," there was still one last day of riding to do - Canmore to Calgary. Calgary has an airport, you see. I suppose there are people that take a bus from Calgary to Banff, and also that find some way to get from El Paso to Antelope Wells, which isn't even a town, but only a border station. Since both of those are about a day's ride, it made...
Cold and Wet
Short day. One long up, one long down. Starting to sound like a pattern, isn't it?
I rode with Jessie out of the hostel, until we were back on the Great Divide Route. He went south, I went north.
This is the one part of the Great Divide Route where the map/guide tells you specifically to watch out for bears. A few weeks before, a Forest Se...
Northern Montana has a lot of WarmShowers hosts, and on top of that, they respond! Four days in a row, I had somewhere to stay and not far to go.
Almost as soon as I left my campground at Owl Creek, it started raining, but only just. Cold, though. Later, it began warming up, but I could see that the rain in front of me wa...
I froze my butt off all night in Grants. Maybe I should've used my tent instead of sleeping in a lawn chair. At least I didn't have to take down my tent in the morning.
As a southbound rider had mentioned, right around Polaris, trees appeared. A short climb later, I was rewarded with a long downhill, along with pavement and a rare tail...
The nine other guys in the church were all awake by the time I left at 6:30 AM, including Cooper and John. I wonder when they left that day?
Most of the day consisted of a long climb and a long descent, a lot like a few of the days in Colorado. Right at the summit, I met three more Great Divide riders, David, Beth, and Clive, from Aust...
I got a late start out of Steamboat Springs since I had to pick up a package at the UPS store. They didn't open until 8:30 AM, and we're clear across town, a half-hour ride, from where I was staying. In the opposite direction of where I needed to go.
When I got there, they didn't have my package. Looking up the tracking number, we discovered th...
I Brake for WarmShowers
After a day off in Salida, I was feeling strong, and the horrendous hill out of town didn't seem like much. My reward: a long, long day of headwind, and no trees.
I still made good time by some miracle, and when I arrived at the day's intended destination at 3:30, it was clear to me that I could press on to Breckenridge, only 20 miles ...
In the hostel in Del Norte, Tim suggested I deflate my tires, because the pressure i was running made Jackie too rigid. On a road tour, it's normal to pump your tires as high as you can, but off-road, it's the opposite: you keep them as low as you can get away with. I might not have let as much air out as Tim suggested, but it makes a di...
Over the Hump
After breaking camp, I made it to Abiquiu at about 7:00 AM. There was a general store with a surprisingly good grocery selection. Its name was Bode's, pronounced just like my brother's name, spelled different.
Even though I was moving relatively quickly in the early going, it felt slow. I guess I thought I should've been making better ...
Ville and I left Grants together, intending on making Cuba in two days. It looked like it was mostly one giant hill straight out of Grants, a giant downhill, and then all flat from there. We'd already heard there wasn't much water in between, so we figured we'd stop wherever we found some. There was an alternate route, entirely paved, the exact same dista...
Turning the Corner
Carl and Damie sent me off with a hearty breakfast of grains and bacon. Then I got to take on some hills.
Did I say some? Kidding! A lot of hills.
The day was going decently well until I turned off the paved road and headed up. Not only was the hill a doozy, but the poor road surface killed any momentum you co...
Up to No Good
Where I had stayed in El Paso was on the western end of town, so it was a matter of minutes before I got out of town and crossed into New Mexico.
Not much later, I was on a sparsely traveled highway that paralleled the USA-Mexico border, never more than five miles away. There was only one car every 20 minutes or so, and half of them we...
Play a Train Song
The cheapest way to get a human and a bike to El Paso is by train. Compared to a flight, the cost is barely any cheaper, and it takes ten times longer. But you don't have to go through security and loading a bike costs $10. You also get another free checked bag and two carry-ons. An airline would charge as much as $175 for that.
For most of the...
Ready for Action
Jackie looks like she's ready for an adventure, doesn't she?
Best of all, so am I!
New Hope State Park May 28, 2016
Hiked 3 miles today at New Hope State Park. Went with the High King Club. We hiked the Peninsula trail. Was a wonderful hike along the lake there in New Hope.
Now that I've nailed down a teaching position for this fall, it's time to go on an adventure! Since my school district requires me to take a course mid-June, then expects me back in early August for training, I only have a month and a half.
I have several items remaining on my bucket list: the Pacific Crest Trail, a bike tour of Australia, the Cam...
With no plans or reservations, Copperhead and I drove to the Grand Canyon, passing her childhood home outside of Flagstaff along the way. She had grown up in a small community on a high plain at the foot of a mountain, mostly populated by Native Americans. Living in an isolated location has always intrigued me.
Camping in the Grand Canyon requires...
For all the times I've been through the Southwest, I've never been to the Grand Canyon. Now spending over a week in Arizona, and with access to a car, I figured I'd finally get that one scratched off the bucket list. Copperhead, who's from these parts, claimed Sedona was even better, so we made the trip to Red Rock Country, driving through a thunderstorm ...
Copperhead and I set out for Enchanted Rock early on Sunday morning, intending to stay at the state park that night, with a stop in Fredericksburg for brunch. Both of us loaded up with a hearty meal full of eggs and Texas toast at a warm, eclectic place off the main strip in town.
Fredericksburg is known as a picturesque little German town in Hill...
Midstate trail day 1
Midstate Trail day 1
Today Aaron and myself started what I'm calling our project for the hiking season, The Mid State trail. The Mid State trail runs through central Massachusetts from the R.I./ M.A border to the N.H./M.A. border starting in Douglas State Forest.
We got dropped off at the trailhea...
Lower Spring Canyon 3-11-16 To 3-13-16
10 miles from chimney rock to Fremont river near Fruita. With Dave, Abe, Calvin, and Vanessa. Slightly downhill not too onerous but a great first backpacking trip of the season.
23,000 km. 203 days. 21 countries. Seven time zones. 125 degrees of latitude. 13 flat tires. Enough oatmeal and white bread that I'm sick of both. Frozen arctic, snow-capped mountains, windy high plains, burning deserts, rolling hill country, warm sunny beaches, tropical jungles, extreme elevat...
End of the World
The wind had died down - barely - by the next day, and I gladly made my way southeast. Supposedly, the wind was supposed to be from the northwest, but no, it was from the west, like always. That meant it was a tailwind, but not a direct one. In places, the road would turn due south, meaning the...
Fall Me the Breeze
The Chilean border was farther than I thought, and on top of that, it felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. When I set out in the morning, I had the idea that I cross the border, then take the ferry, then do a little more riding and call it a day. That was true, but the distances were great.
Back On Solid Ground
The wind in El Chalten didn't appear any different from the day before, though the locals were saying today was better. But there was no point in waiting around. I loaded up on breakfast, once again merely bread and jam, and headed out -
The Germans, Michel, and I were all staying at different hostels and left separately, but found each other less than half the way to the ferry and finished it up together. I had expected an "End of the Carretera Austral" sign at the city limits of Villa O'Higgins, but here it was at the ferry d...
Only 10 minutes outside of Cochrane, I could hear mooing. A lot of mooing, constant mooing, in various pitches, louder collective mooing than I'd ever heard before. What was going on?
When I rounded a bend, I saw three...
By the time I got to Coyhaique, I'd started to like the Carretera Austral. The hills weren't bad. The pavement was good, when there wasn't construction. The wind was bad, but manageable, and was supposed to be much worse back in Argentina. The scenery was nice, and was only going to get better....
Bumps In the Road
I engorged on a hostel breakfast while talking to a tall German who'd traveled extensively in South America. I stopped by the private courier service on my way out of town, hoping I could still send those three kg of supplies, but they don't do international shipping, only domestic. I tentative...
Course of a Different Color
It wasn't long in the morning before the mountains made an appearance, and not long after that when they showed their colors.
About the same...
Early on in South America, some hostels included a breakfast that was disappointing, to put it lightly. Two pieces of bread and one cup of black coffee. Enough butter for one piece of bread, and enough jam for roughly half of the other.
Mendoza's hostel, like most I've seen lately, had more than the standard South American breakfast of two pieces of toast and black coffee. Bread! Cereal! Yogurt! Orange juice! Hot chocolate!
I had a flat in the morning...
Long Distance Is Back
I left Angel's house early after a ton of oatmeal. A solid downhill, and then a long uphill.
A long ...
Wolfed down some hostel breakfast - this one had cereal! - and headed on down the highway. This would be my first day on Ruta 40, the road that would nearly take me all the way to Ushuaia.
Wine country slowly became hi...
Salta was over 300 km away. Normally, a reasonable approach would be to get there in three days. But I knew a lot of it would be downhill. I'd try and do it in two.
A cold and calm morning almost immediately changed in...
Clawing My Way Out
I hadn't been expecting it, but I was treated to a breakfast of egg sandwiches! I hadn't even met these folks 12 hours before, and was only led to them by their friend. What nice people!
Before leaving, I tried fiddlin...
Fading Into Bolivian
Go ahead and say it aloud with me. You know you want to.
Harder to Breathe
Getting out of Cusco involved a tradeoff. Once I got out of the historic center of town, I no longer had to ride over cobblestones and loose bricks, but traffic etiquette regressed to typical Latin American levels. I guess they keep appearances in front of the tourists.
Inca Gadda Da Vida
After a long day to Abancay, and a short day after, I decided to postpone patching the tubes until the morning, rather than doing it the same evening like I usually do. Got a slightly late start, but no problem, really.
Higher than Ever
Departing Nasca meant two things: heading into the mountains, and leaving the Pan-American Highway. After two weeks of desert, I was looking forward to any other kind of scenery, even if it was more difficult. And trading headwind for hills might not be so much harder. Leaving the Pan-American ...
Slowing Down, Looking Up
I woke up to the sound of loud music on the radio in the hostel's office, no more than two meters from my room. The desk guy, the same one that checked me into my room the night before, was singing and whistling along. It wasn't even 6:00 AM yet.
Still Fighting It
The hills have begun to make a reappearance on the Peruvian coast. What before was a flat desert has led to...well, it's still desert, but with a landscape. The wind has not changed its pattern at all: light in the morning, devastating in the afternoon, and always against me.
Leaving Mancora put me in the northern Peru desert. Flat. Empty. Lots of roads that are long and straight. I'd been warned that this is where it gets rough, and I imagine some people kind of lose their minds here. Nothing but an endless road and no change whatsoever in the scenery, and no human...
Hurry Up and Rest
Leaving La Troncal, I was now at a low elevation on the coastal plains, much as I would be for the foreseeable future. Somehow I thought that would bring about a big change, but it didn't. It was still cool, cloudy, occasionally drizzly. And riding was still difficult sometimes.
I Went Down, Down, Down
After a day at the Casa de Ciclistas, which included a glut of homemade pizza and a free patch kit from Santiago, I headed out early, leaving a few new friends behind. Chris was...
After several weary hours of sitting down with no food, I stepped out of the Dallas Love Field airport. It was hot. I unzipped the legs off my hiking pants and waited. A woman called out to me, speaking a tribal language I couldn't come close to recognizing. She was acting like she had never se...
Getting from Pasto to Ipiales was essentially one downhill and then one uphill. Not that it was a short day. The hills were that long.
30 km into the first part (downhill), my hands were numb. Not only was it kind of c...
In the Mountains, Out of Luck
My reprieve from the Andes was short-lived. Leaving the sugar valley, getting to Popayan was half-flat, half-climb. Almost no descents. A dip every now and then to break up what would've been one obnoxiously long climb into several smaller, but still difficult ones. I dunno which would be worse...
A satisfying traditional breakfast and a ride to the airport, both courtesy of the Coronells. When I got there, they wanted Valeria's box wrapped up in a ridiculous amount of ce...
Bridging the Gap
After taking a day off in Quepos, I had a major kick to do if I wanted to make it to my flight on time in Panama City. 700 km in five days. That's already hard enough, but I believed I should make the last day short, so I could take care of packing up
Nicaragua not only charged $12 to get in, but wanted another $2 to get out. At immigration, I bumped into another cyclist named Carlos, who was biking from Nicaragua to ???. I admire the spirit to just go for it! Also met a handful of buspackers, including a couple that had been on the road for...
Jose told me that San Miguel had a few bike shops, and one of them might have the part I needed. He was going into San Miguel on the morning anyhow and could give me a lift. I figured it was worth a shot.
We must have ...
I'd been thinking that once I got to the coast, things would get easy again. And they should've. Whenever I looked to my right, I could see the beautifully flat coastal plains right there, never more than 1 km away. But for whatever reason, the highway was built in the foothills. Why?
Misty Mountain Hop
After a breakfast of some of the best tamales I've ever had (thanks again Salmy!), I headed for the border. Imagine my surprise when I got there and saw Tom's bike! He had gotten farther yesterday than he'd expected and was only 10 km behind me, at best. I wish I'd had his number so I could've told him I'd found Samuel's place; he probably would...
WarmShowers Makes a Comeback
It's normal to take a few breaks during the day on a bike tour. Every so often, you need to eat something, drink a little water, and get out of the saddle. Maybe stay in the shade and cool down. Let your legs rest. When things aren't going so well, a quick 30 minutes off the bike can get you go...
Levels of Comfort
I stayed up a little too late at the fiesta and woke up after little sleep. Benjamin had wanted me to wake him up to say goodbye in the morning, but this proved impossible. I let the sleeping dog lie and left quietly.
Fruits of Labor
I've been in the tropics for a few days now, descending further and further into lower latitude. By now, I'm more or less in the jungle. Fruit-bearing trees are naturally abundant, and various fruits appear on the ground on the side of the road, including oranges, limes, and avocados. I haven't...
As I move farther and farther south, the land gets greener and thicker and more overgrown every day. In some places it still looks like south Texas, and at other times, it looks like Hawaii.
Into the Great Unknown
I lingered at South Padre Island and got a little more reading done on the beach before I left. Downed a few last gas station breakfast tacos, as I don’t know if those are a thing in Mexico. They didn't have the classic bacon-egg-cheese, so all this time in Texas, I've eaten at least a do...
Reflections In the Waves
The ride into South Padre Island was a short one, just over 60 km. The highest point of elevation was a whopping 12 meters, and I think it was on the bridge to the island. The bridge that had a sign prohibiting bikes and pedestrians, I might add. So unless you buy a 1,000 kg piece of machinery,...
I ate one last big hotel breakfast, said goodbye to my parents. I clipped in and pedaled south, like I had done every day before their visit. Back to business.
I had planned on only getting as far as Kenedy, but after ...
Deep In the Heart
Sue and Leo have a tradition with their friends of watching the Tour de France together every Sunday morning during the tour. It involves a huge, decadent breakfast. I was invited. Oh, I'm going.
Sadly, I can't remembe...
Home Is Where the Hills Are
Riding to Lampasas was about the easiest day of riding I've had in weeks. Headwind? Yes. Hills? A few. Chip seal? Of course. But none worse than I've seen lately. Just as important was the relatively short distance, not even 120 km, and lucky me, it stayed overcast all morning!
Chip Seal, Headwind, and Heat
Kinda says it all. Most everything I've been seeing lately.
The roads are badly paved and the shoulders are worse. Asphalt is only used within city limits; everything else is chip seal. And not the "good" kind, the kin...
Pedaling the Panhandle
I was planning on leaving Dalhart at first light, around 6:00 AM, like you do on a tour when it's hot out. But the night before, I met Ty, one of the church's deacons, a massive, initially imposing fellow who turned out to be full of warmth. He cooks breakfast for the youth group every Sunday m...
Back to the Homeland
I hurriedly got out of Aguilar, breaking camp in record time that morning. Less than an hour between opening my eyes and pedaling. That usually doesn't happen even when there's not a tent involved! I don't know if my eagerness to leave a crummy town played into it, but I bet it mostly has to do...
Hospitality and Functionality
I love saying this: the descent into Colorado was one of the better long, steady downhills of the ride so far. Almost 1,000 meters of down spread out over 30 km, little enough t...
Blowin' In the Wind
Once I arrived in DuBois, my stomach only got worse all evening. It didn't feel better in the morning. And I'll spare the nasty details, but there were repeated, frequent signs of some kind of stomach infection. I figured a day of rest, especially with plenty of sleep, would be a good idea. And...
I hung around at the church in White Sulphur Springs and got my latest start yet. It was chilly. There was headwind. I was moving frustratingly slowly, even though the road was flat.
It started raining.
Higher and Higher
It was raining again. The forecast called for sunny skies in the afternoon. I decided to wait and have a late start to the day, and wound up leaving at 11:00 AM, by far my latest start to date. I usually leave around 8:00, but I've been getting better at pushing that a little earlier.
Couldn't Stand the Weather
This ride is close to breaking me.
Is it the hills? No. The wind? No. The long distance? No. The lack of time? That's still stressful, but no.
Leaving Prince George, I knew I was in a valley and I'd be climbing out and into the Rockies for the next three days. Didn't sound easy.
But it was! Despite going into the mountains, and being surrounded by them almost...
I've given up on trying to keep Valeria clean. There's no use trying when it rains, at least a little bit, every singl...
When all you do is ride all day, every little thing that happens during the day seems important. So I've been writing it down. And when you have a conversation with a human as infrequently as I do, they all seem significant. So I've been recording most of those as well. But I think I'll take a ...
Weather or Not
I made a visit to a large grocery store on my way out of Whitehorse, knowing that it would likely be my last chance to visit one for two weeks. I could resupply at general stores in between, but not with as good selection or prices. By the time I made my way up the first hill out of Whitehorse,...
Conditions May Vary
I wandered inside the mini-mart at the front of the RV park for my complimentary hot chocolate. Starting a cold day with a hot drink works for me, and I don't like coffee.
The folks inside, one of which was an older Ge...
Ain't No Rest
Delta Junction was over 150 km past Fairbanks, and about 170 km past where I stayed. Tok was about 170 km past that. Beaver Creek was about 170 km past that.
I don't do half days.
Bad Stretch of Road
As soon as I dismounted Valeria in Coldfoot, I ran into a friendly gentleman in work clothes who was impressed with my ride. Kevin works on tractor equipment, and from what I co...
Getting the Worst Part Over
I peered out my window and looked down on the Alaskan wilderness. "I think that's the start of the Brooks Range..."
The guy in the aisle seat leaned over. "Yeah, I suppose you're right." The mountains were almost entir...
East Bay Backpacking, Day 3
With only about eight miles to go today, I'd be done quickly. I headed back out to the front of the park, got on the correct trail, and headed out.
East Bay Backpacking, Day 2
After a long night of off-and-on sleep, I arose at the crack of dawn and broke camp quickly. Stuffed my still-wet tent in my backpack, hopped back over the fence, and continued my hike. Only a few hundred meters later, I was on a hiking trail again, in a regional park! Didn't know that was comi...
East Bay Backpacking, Day 1
I arose unexpectedly early, having forgone an alarm clock, and set out just shy of 7:30. A slightly cool day, mostly gray, but pleasant.
Only a day before, the forecast changed drastically, now calling for a thundersto...
Why I Don't "Like to Travel"
Whenever I hear the phrase "I like to travel," I cringe.
It's not because I don't like to travel. I do! It's just that...who doesn't??
Of all the people I've met that have uttered the words "I like to travel," few of them share the passion I have for things like backpacking, bicycling, running, or hiking. You know, travel...
I Wish I Could Do That...
Every so often someone says to me, "I wish I could do what you're doing. Give up all my responsibilities, not a care in the world, just take off on an adventure whenever I want. Sounds like the life.”
Back to Plano, Day 5
Dana had to head to work at 5:30 in the morning, which meant I had to get out by the same time. The sun wasn't coming up until 7:00, so he figured he'd drop me off somewhere I could get breakfast and wait it out.
Back to Plano, Day 4
I waited until 9:00 AM or so to get going. It was about -7 C (20 F) at sunrise, so I wanted to wait until the sun had come up and warmed the air a little bit before I got going. I piled on extra layers, more than I'd ever worn on a bike, and set out. The sun was shining, and the headwind wasn't...
Back to Plano, Days 2-3
My goodness, the tailwind.
The day started off great and only got better. Oh, sure, it was cold in the morning, but it was sunny, so it didn't feel too bad. And the tailwind helped warm me up. But
Back to Plano, Day 1
I only had 40 miles to get to Georgetown today, and with a tailwind to boot. So I didn't bother leaving my friend's place in Austin until noon. Slowly packed up my stuff, ate a little bit, read some of my book. Let it get a little warmer outside before I braved the elements.
Austin New Year!
A short stay in Austin, a little less than a week. Watched Texas unfortunately get our butts kicked in the Alamo Bowl. Went to 6th Street for New Year's Eve. I guess it's been a while, because I don't recognize half the bars there anymore. Had a good time, but didn't manage to kiss a gal at mid...
To Austin, Day 3
I'd previously thought that I might stay in Georgetown tonight, 40 miles north of Austin. That would be a 90-mile day. That's still a long day, but a lot shorter than the 130 miles it would be to go all the way to Austin. 130 miles wouldn't be the longest ride I've ever done, and generally woul...
To Austin, Day 2
Before leaving, I asked Dana if I could stay with him again on my way back. He happily agreed.
Almost right away, the jacket came off. Shoe covers stayed on though. Somehow, it seemed like it was taking forever to get ...
To Austin, Day 1
My host in Waxahachie wouldn't be available until 5:00 PM, so I took a late start, around 10:00 AM. Not such a bad thing; meant it was a little warmer outside by the time I started.
Follow Your Dreams
If you're a millennial, it's the advice we've all heard many times. Starting in first grade, we had it drilled in our heads. "Dream BIG!" and "You're special!", which gave way to "Follow your dreams" and "Find something you're passionate about," which eventually led to "Make yourself stand out"...
Coastal Trail Runs - Final Review
Less than a year ago, I got into trail running. Oh sure, I'd run a trail before, and I spent a couple semesters in college running on Austin's Town Lake Trail nearly every day. But I'd never done any kind of serious trail running, and I'd definitely never done a trail race. I'd barely even hear...
Berkeley Half Marathon
I normally don't do half marathons, but I was kinda roped into this one. Whenever I see a "Do all these races and complete the challenge!" thing, I always fall for it. To some d...
Spooner's Cove Trail 50k
After a long drive down Highway 1 the day before, my Volkswagen Beetle thankfully started and I made the slow drive from my hotel to the start line. The road was winding and twisting, passing over gnarled coastal terrain. A preview of what was to come.
Lake Chabot Trail 50k
Unless you count Bizz Johnson (and I think that one deserves an asterisk), Lake Chabot is by far the flattest race in the Coastal Trail Runs series. Only
Coyote Ridge Trail 50k
Since I missed Diablo earlier this year, Coyote Ridge, with 7,350 feet of climbing, would be the most technically difficult trail run of the year, at least mile-for-mile.
The day started off cool and foggy, not so much...
Bizz Johnson 50k
33 hours after my plane from Berlin landed in San Jose, I woke up at 2:00 in the morning and hauled my behind to Susanville, CA for a race. No, this is not normal behavior. Neither is ru...
Berlin Marathon 2013
The Berlin Marathon could hardly be more contrary to most races I do. It's paved. It's flat. It's fast. The world record is often set there. It's held in a city of 3.5 million people. There are 40,000 participants. And my chance of winning was worse than a new college graduate in the job market...
Coastal Trail 50k
Since this was a point-to-point race, that meant we had to take a shuttle from the finish to the start. And that meant you had to show up by 6:30 AM. And since the finish was an hour away, that meant I had to wake up early.
Wine Tour, Day 2
Another breakfast prepared by my host, which was...toast and eggs. Funny coincidence.
Started the day off with a rough climb. Vic had even advised against it, but it looked like it would be a scenic road, and it would ...
Wine Tour, Day 1
Toast and eggs, thanks to Jon, and a chilly start to the day.
I had originally planned on what was apparently a boring road that parallels the main highway in the area, and on Jon's recommendation, took another road in...
Wine Tour, Day 0
I'd had the thought to do a short bike tour through wine country for a while now. I had first planned to do it over 4th of July weekend, but at that time, an even better opportunity presented itself, and I did that. So the wine country bike tour was still on the table, just waiting for the next...
Post Hood-to-Coast Relay
Continued from an earlier post
We wound up placing 3rd overall, higher than Google ever has, but came in 2nd in the corporate division. As it turned out, a semi-pro team from Nike registered as a corporate team, since ...
Continued from a previous post
I finally took my place at the start. By now, the announcer guy with the megaphone had been there for seven hours, and he was going to be ther...
Pre Hood-to-Coast Relay
Hood-to-Coast, the self-proclaimed "Mother of all Relays," is a 200-mile relay race stretching from Mt. Hood to Seaside, OR. As you might imagine, the course is a net downhill, but it should be pointed out that the overwhelming majority of the downhill occurs in the first 20 miles, and it's mos...
Cinderella Trail 50k
You know, we never really find out what happened after Cinderella wound up in a relationship. How did she get along with the Prince? And I'm here to tell you: Cinderella be a harsh mistress.
Going into this thing, my m...
Crystal Springs Trail 50k
The race started a little later than usual, and wasn't too terribly far from where I live. It was even kind of exciting to drive through Woodside, seeing a few areas I bike through semi-frequently. Then I remembered what kind of hills they are, the kind that force me into my lowest gear and sti...
San Francisco 50-Mile Endurance Run
As I was pinning my bib to my shorts, a thought occurred to me:
"What the hell am I doing?"
I had never run this distance before. Not even close. The longest race I’d ever done was a 50k, only a few weeks pr...
Wildwood Trail Marathon
Drove up to Portland on Friday, arriving in town about 11:00 at night, found a (sort of) cheap hotel. Asked if I could have a later check out, so I could take a shower after the race. That's an extra $40. Forget it.
Riding on Cloud Nine
Almost all the training I do, both running and biking, I do a loop. Out-and-backs are boring. And de-motivating. It just doesn't do it for me when I get to the turnaround point of an out-and-back and I know I have to do it all over again -
Golden Gate Trail 50k
After a series of misadventures involving two cars that wouldn't start, I made it to the start line less than 30 seconds before the gun, without stretching. I had wanted to at least try to use the bathroom, but it wasn't urgent, and I saw that there was a line at least 15 minutes long. I could ...
San Lorenzo River Trail Marathon
San Lorenzo would be my fourth marathon in four weekends, and on top of that, it was on a Saturday where all the others were on Sunday, giving it a shorter turnaround than normal. I've gotten into the habit of making Friday a speed run (only three miles) followed by a swim, then a day of rest o...
San Francisco Marathon 2013
I'd had a productive week of training, or at least a consistent one. My times were down a little, and here and there, my joints hurt. That had a tendency to go away after a few miles, which is a good sign (if it keeps getting worse
Big Basin Trail Marathon
The Big Basin Trail Marathon is unique in a few ways. For one, it's a well-established course, on the popular (and scenic) Skyline-to-Sea hiking trail. For another, it's a marathon and 50K only, no short options. Also, it's a point-to-point, as opposed to the usual double loop, and the occasion...
Canyon Meadow Trail Marathon (reprise)
After doing well at this race two months ago, the main goal I had was to do better.
The sun was already up an...
Rae Lakes Loop, Day 2
I opened my eyes and looked out the side of the tent. Frost on the grass. I turned my head and looked at my socks, where I'd laid them out to dry overnight (hiking through snow yesterday had soaked my shoes and socks). Frost. I picked one up. Frozen solid. Aw, crap...
Rae Lakes Loop, Day 1
It was a cool, but not cold, morning. I hadn't slept particularly well, since I didn't pick the best spot for my tent. I was on a slope, wisely tilted down towards my feet, but it was a strong enough slope that I kept gradually sliding down and had to wiggle myself back up repeatedly. Other tha...
Rae Lakes Loop, Day 0
When I first moved to California last fall, one of the things I was most looking forward to was going on backpacking trips. There aren't many good backpacking opportunities in Texas (though I've always wanted to do the Lone Star Trail), and from my few experiences with backpacking, half of them in California, I'd fallen in love with it. Now I could get aw...
Horseshoe Lake Trail Marathon
Atypically, I woke up in my own bed and drove to the marathon shortly thereafter. Very few Coastal Trail Runs have been on The Peninsula thus far, but this would be one of them....
Cinderella Trail Marathon
The race was outside of Oakland, starting in Joaquin Miller Park and venturing into Redwood Regional Park, even sharing some of the course with the Canyon Meadow Marathon from a couple months ago. This course was considerably hillier though. Race was...
Canyon Meadow Trail Marathon
For the first time in my life, I was running marathons on consecutive weekends. Not sure if that was a good idea. But I figured if I was ever gonna do it, it might as well involve a beautiful trail run, and less elevation gain than normal. Canyon Meadow happens to be one of the flattest in the ...
Woke up at 3:00 AM after no more than three hours of not-so-deep sleep. I didn’t feel hungry, but put away a kiwi and a granola bar. Walked the mile-and-a-half to the shuttle pickup with my hotel mates on empty streets. For whatever reason, the majority of the shuttles picked up at 4:00 A...
Montara Mountain Trail Marathon
I hadn’t run well in the two weeks leading up to this race. Part of it may have been in my head, but it was clear that I also had trouble recovering from my previous marathon two weeks before. With that in mind, I was worried about this marathon. Especially considering it had an additiona...
Golden Gate Trail Marathon
I woke up at 6:15 AM, having spent the night sleeping on my self-inflating pad in my aunt’s walk-in closet. I drove up to San Francisco the day before to spend the night with her just so I wouldn’t have to wake up an extra hour earlier. The two of us had gone out for some great Chin...
Waking Up the Echoes
Every so often, someone asks me, "When was the last marathon you ran?" A few months ago, I came to a revelation: it had been over three years since my last (it’s now almost four). I started wondering what had caused that. Over the past nine yea...
Reluctantly woke up at 5:15 AM for the race. Scarfed down a Clif bar and some trail mix, then headed out. Hurriedly headed over to the triathlon so I could set everything up in ...
Pre Galveston Half-Ironman
I unwisely waited 'til the last minute to make arrangements for getting to and staying in Galveston, or anywhere nearby. Luckily the Motel 6 wasn’t sold out. Reserved a single room only a couple days before, then made the four-hour drive on Saturday afternoon.
Went to the triathlon check-in, which was held exactly where the start/finish line...
Last weekend I did the Tough Mudder, a 10-mile mud run, better compared to an obstacle course than anything else. I'd never done anything quite like it before; I've only ever done footraces on roads and organized road biking events. This would be a different kind of challenge altogether. The Tough Mudder is designed to test every part of you, as...
I don't know what to say to wrap up something like this. I was always bad at conclusions in English class. The truth is that there's not much I could say that would be terribly accurate, since in real life, things don't end with a bang, immediately followed by a neat conclusion. Things just end...
With the entire ride over, here are a few statistics and rankings for an overview and a look back.
Elevation: 780 ft.
Distance: 52.0 mi.
Odometer: 3,674.2 mi.
Woke up and quietly packed up my panniers. Another morning like any other. But since I was finishing the ride today, I was fluttery inside and there...
Elevation: 1,298 ft.
Distance: 81.7 mi.
Odometer: 3,622.2 mi.
Got up and enjoyed a generous helping of the hotel's free breakfast, packed up, and headed out. The sun is coming up a lot later lately, meaning I...
Elevation: 1,771 ft.
Distance: 88.5 mi.
Odometer: 3,540.5 mi.
After last night's downpour, a few things were wet and a lot of things were out of place due to my haste in packing them away last night. Slow goi...
San Angelo State Park, TX
Elevation: 1,883 ft.
Distance: 125.6 mi.
Odometer: 3,452.0 mi.
Pumped both tires and did a quick stretch routine before taking off. While I was stretching, a tube let out all its air. Removing it revealed a o...
Elevation: 2,866 ft.
Distance: 75.8 mi.
Odometer: 3,326.4 mi.
Rained last night. Road still wet and clouds still threatening. Didn't get rained on, but it stayed dark for a while. Crossed the Texas state bord...
Elevation: 3,431 ft.
Distance: 101.9 mi.
Odometer: 3,250.6 mi.
Headwind early and often. Wind wasn't too bad early, but got stronger as the day went. I was sluggish for the first 25 miles or so and couldn't f...
Elevation: 3,422 ft.
Distance: 95.6 mi.
Odometer: 3,148.7 mi.
TONS of descending today. Mostly slow and gradual, which basically just meant I moved at a great pace all day. One big hill at mile 40. Likely the last use of the granny gear. After that hill, I looked around...