Posts Tagged With: biking

Desert Heat

When people learn that I’m a traveler they often ask me what the most beautiful place I’ve been to is. When I reply that it’s the US they often look at me in disbelief, as if thinking “I didn’t expect him to be so nationalistic.” The thing is I’m not nationalistic. It’s simply that the natural splendor of the western US is really unlike anything I’ve seen before.

The Desert

These past two weeks of biking through the desert have reminded me of just how true that is. Each day as I bike, I think there couldn’t be a more beautiful place to ride and the next day I relive the wonder as the landscape morphs into yet another new, strange and wonderful shape.

To think they change every day...

To think they change every day…

For those of you who have never been to the area, I can’t recommend it enough. Photos are nice, but the grand scale of panoramas like the one at Dead Horse Point , where the Canyonlands stretch out for a hundred miles 2,000 feet below you, simply cannot be captured by a flimsy two-dimensional image.

Biking adds yet another layer to the appreciation. 50 plus miles of untouched wilderness are passed so easily in a car, but on a bike the amazing scale of unoccupied land reveals its true significance. Of course riding through 100 degree weather isn’t always the easiest on the body, but even that grants a new appreciation to the stories of settlers and native Americans who explored and covered these lands, very often on foot.

Like nowhere else on Earth

Like nowhere else on Earth

We’ll soon be entering the Rocky Mountains, which have a beauty and challenge all their own, but even if the trip were to end right now I’d be grateful for the beauty I’ve been lucky enough to see. What a world…

Setting Sun

A nice way to end the day

 

Categories: Biking, Photography, Travel, United States | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

On the Road

Wow, where to begin? After three weeks on the road, this is my first much belated update. There’s already been a cross country drive and two weeks of biking through some of the most scenic places on Earth. In fact, as I write this, I’m sitting under a tree in Zion National Park, another place so blessed with beauty that I lament not only my own skills as a photographer, but the absolute limits of the art, which could never do anything but give a pale imitation of natures capacity for splendor.

I captured this just outside of Yellowstone.  To think this was an area they decided wasn't worth protecting...

I captured this just outside of Yellowstone. To think this was an area they decided wasn’t worth protecting…

So rather than do gross injustice to the places I’ve already visited, I’ll Continue reading

Categories: Biking, Photography, Travel, United States | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

The Next Big Thing

So I apologize for my extended absence. While I don’t mind taking photos of the same lake repeatedly, writing about the process just isn’t my cup of tea, or maybe it’s more that being in ones own home town dampens the adventurous spirit. Whatever the case, my long winter of hibernation has come to an end and it’s time to get back on the road. The next big adventure? A bike trip across America!

This post comes at the last moment as we leave tomorrow by car from Cooperstown, NY and begin the long drive out to San Francisco where the actual biking will begin. Here’s our tentative driving route:

There will probably be much too much to share on the way, but even so I’ll wait until I have some good photos before I write more. In the meantime you can check out the page we’ve set up for the charity we’re raising money for. Should be amazing!

image
Riding for Music and Arts Education

We’re taking a two-wheeled tour across the country to raise funds for the music and arts in our local school!
Aperçu par Yahoo

Categories: Travel, United States | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Biking

Biking was the one area of the race where I felt some confidence.  Unfortunately I hadn’t counted on biking with tired legs after drinking two liters of sea water.  I was sick and tired and had eight hours to cover 112 miles (180km) of extremely hilly ground on a very windy day. Before I could even begin to worry about that, I had to get my bike from the transition area, which was about 1km away from the beach. The only problem was that I had no spare running shoes so I had to run barefoot.  It could have been difficult, but I was far too excited to have finished the swim to notice.  In fact, I felt exhilarated as the crowd continued to cheer as the commentator talked about me and my bare feet.

In the changing area a wonderful women who’d given me a ride in her caravan earlier in the week was there to help me with the transition.  I truly felt surrounded by friends, old ones in my heart, new ones beside me and future ones among the crowds.  I wrestled my way out of my wet suit and slipped into my casual bike shorts, the only ones I had.  As I biked out, I could hear the commentator again, “He’s wearing baggies!”  The crowd cheered, I waved and the crowd cheered some more.  Then I was off.

You know it's not me because there's more than one bike in the picture. (Photo by Bymez )

If there is one advantage of being in dead last place out of 1,200 people, it’s that no one can pass you, but you can pass them.  Still, I was far behind and passing anyone was going to take some time. Most people had beaten me out of the water by at least 30 minutes, which is quite a head start.  It took me almost an hour to catch another racer, but as time went by I began to catch more.  My stomach hurt and my mouth was dry from the sea water, but my spirits were high.  I tried to conserve strength in my legs for the marathon, and focused on drinking fluids to flush out the salt.  Hours came and went and one by one I continued to catch other racers.  Even so, at the six hour mark in I realized I was barely on schedule to make the cut off.  Even worse, I’d failed to take into account that the last part of the course was the hardest with numerous steep climbs.  I needed to hurry.

With about an hour to go I knew it would come down to the wire.  The rain had started falling and seven hours, even at a moderate pace, is tiring.  I needed to go faster not slower or I wasn’t going to make it.  As I pushed on, I tried to guess how many miles remained and what my speed was.  Calculations and estimates were spinning in my head, but what I should have been thinking of was how wet the road had become.  When I turned a sharp corner with 30 minutes to go I felt the tires slip out from underneath me.  Gravity took it from there and I skipped across the wet road like a rock across still water.

Race marshals had been posted at all the corners.  The two at this corner had taken shelter from the rain in a van, but came running out as soon as they saw me fall. Like someone who’s just woken from a bad dream, I was dazed and confused. They asked me if I needed an ambulance, there was only one thing I needed.

“How far?”

“What?”

“How far to Tenby?”

“About five miles.”

Could I bike five miles hurt, tired and on a damaged bike in 30 minutes?  The support and faith people had shown in me raced through my mind again, excuses didn’t matter.  It wasn’t a matter of being able to, I had to. “I can make it. There’s time.” I got back on my bike.  The front wheel was bent and I was bleeding, but those were concerns for another time.  I had people counting on me.

I pedaled as hard as I could and soon found myself at the beginning of the hills.  The crowds by the road, which had been amazing the whole day, had grown intense with the knowledge that the cutoff was approaching.  At one point, a man yelled out encouragement and counted down the meters to the top of the hill.  My legs were on fire, but his voice burned in my ears.  I kept pushing.  The crowds seemed uncertain about the time, but still I pushed. The town and finally the finish came into site, but the crowds had moved to the running course.  Was I too late?

I don’t remember much from the last 500 meters, but as a I pulled into the transition area I must have looked like a lost lamb, because a race marshal read my race.  “You made it,” he said.  “Only four minutes to spare, but you made it!”

I don't like photos of myself, but this is a special occasion. Plus you had to see the "baggies" ;)

Categories: General, Ironman | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

$30 and a Dream

For most competitors Ironman Wales will begin at 7am on Sunday the 11th.  For me it began Sunday the 4th when I left Glasgow.  I had a bike, $30 and my gear.  I was up against 400 plus miles, nearly continuous rain and a persistent headwind.   I had no places to stay and no tent.  I didn’t even have a map actually, but when you’ve come this close to catching a dream, obstacles like that are no obstacles at all.

The biking was the simplest and the hardest.  You move your feet in circles and you move forward.  All you have to do is not stop.  Fortunately at this point my legs are pretty strong, unfortunately sitting on a bike seat that long leaves me feeling like a eunuch.  It’s mind numbing as well, especially as I did the ride solo.  The roads I took were heavily trafficked, which would make listening to music akin to Russian roulette.  The result, a lot of time alone with your thoughts in the rain, is as hard on the mind as those persistent circles are on the legs.

I was lucky in regards to shelter.  Between the two endpoints, where I had friends waiting to help, I relied on the kindness of strangers.  Miraculously, I found someone to give me a place to stay every night, even if sometimes it wasn’t until midnight or even 2am.  Still, the amazing hospitality of these kind strangers inspired me, and more often than not even provided me with bodily sustenance.  I was fed pumpkin curry, fresh baked banana bread, crumpets and pancakes.  I even had my lunch packed for me!

One of the lovely places I was lucky enough to call home for a night.

I often had to stop for directions, but some people went so far as to print me maps.  When I needed water, bars always refilled me. Even the infamous Starbucks and McDonalds did their part, providing me with free internet.  Like making a cake from a box mix, just add concentrated power of will.

At least I know it's downhill from here.

My body hurts everywhere, everywhere I can still feel that is, but here I am.  The Ironman is just three days away and the forecast for that day is storms with high winds.  I like a challenge.  It’s possible they’ll cancel it if there’s thunder and lightening.  Even that doesn’t really matter.  There will always be another race to run, another mountain to climb.  In the end, it really is the journey, not the destination.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

T. Roosevelt

Categories: Biking, Ironman, Journeys, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,018 other followers

%d bloggers like this: