Monday Memories: Solo Bicycling Trip

I decided I was not getting any younger, and I was reading about people in their 60’s bicycling across the USA! Could I do the same? I did not know, but I decide to attempt some distance.

Yes, in June 2018, I did bicycle 600 miles from Prescott, Wisconsin to Rensselaer, Indiana by way of many small towns following most of Adventure Cycling’s Northern Tier route. After a heat spell, I continued on on New York State’s Erie Canal trail for 100 miles before meeting friends in central NY.

People asked why I chose that area of the USA to bicycle ride. Since I typically fly over it, I thought it a good idea to actually see it. I saw many windmills, fields of corn, artwork and rolling hills.

There were sights to see. An Eagle Center, National Farm Toy Museum and the famous Field of Dreams to mention a few. I also stopped at activities roadside, such as this dog competition where they collect the bird that was shot. When I heard about saloon bars similar to an AZ bar, I checked it out as I did often stop in churches for a reflective moment.

Most nights I stayed at bed and breakfast, or motels, and did camp. My goal was to survive so I wanted comfort at the end of the day, especially since you never knew if the next 40-60 miles per day was going to be in the heat or a drenching rain. There is nothing worse than bicycling in the rain; stopping to check the weather radar to discover how many hours you may be sitting and waiting out the weather. Some places were entirely for myself and I would wander into the town to find dinner, and other places I spent hours talking and eating with the owner of the place. I always love connecting with people when I travel. All of my accommodations were wonderful from Motel 6 to some really nice bed and breakfast places!

One of my most fun places was at an old jailhouse. The woman helped me hoist my loaded bicycle up the five steps into the place, invited friends over to have a beer with us, and cooked delicious dinner and breakfast for me. She offered me an additional night, yet I decided to keep on my plan since the weather was good.

Enthusiasm for bicycling is beginning to take off in the USA as we develop the US Bicycling Route System to be added to many Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Routes and Adventure Cycling’s Routes. I did see a bicycle campground and I rode a bicycle path where each rider pays a fee. Men drove on the bike path to collect the fee from me and were pleasantly surprised when I could show them I had my receipt of payment.

I ate plenty of snacks, which I carried in my bag, and always a lunch. I loved Casey’s General Store located in many small towns. I was hooked on white cheddar cheese popcorn, until I broke a front tooth – later repaired in Buffalo, NY. I also bought Arizona green tea and Gatorade to supplement my water bottles. I love chocolate and that meant a Snicker’s bar too.

I discovered I was close to Route 66 so I decided to ride a portion of it, especially since I did not know if I would ever ride its entire distance from CA to IL. Lots of history along that route! The road was so busy at one point there was a passageway for people to walk under the road! Of course, there are still some old gas stations in the area, and portions of the road are grown over with grass in its cracks.

I met many other bicyclists on the road and all going from east to the west coast (I was going west to east). There was only one other solo female bicyclist, yet every single person always stopped at the bottom of a hill to say hello, check-in on how I was doing, and offer ideas of what was coming up in the next town or two. I really appreciated the camaraderie! One guy told me he was sleeping in ditches at night after cycling about 100 miles a day. Another guy told me of a free place to set a tent. A mother and daughter team had stayed at the lodging I was heading to on my 70 mile day. Other people at stores, bars, and their homes were very generous. One family offered their swimming pool to me as I laid on their front lawn, under the only shade tree I think in the county! Another guy brought out bottles of cold water for me as I sat by a church he was renovating for his family home. Another guy stopped in his pick-up truck and asked me if I was okay, and if I knew how hot it was that day. Yes, wherever I could find some shade, I spent time there. I could tell you more, but I think you got the picture!

The heat did me in! To hot to go on, dehydrated and with concerns of heat stroke, I decided to take the heat wave in the US seriously. Unfortunately I have been in hospitals needing fluids pumped into me other times when on hiking and bicycling trips. I knew I did not want that happening here. With the help of great people in Indiana, I rented a car a few days after getting my fluids back to where they needed to be and headed to Buffalo, NY. Along the way and there, I had wonderful friends allow me time to recuperate before jumping back on my bicycle to cycle the Erie Canal trail to central NY where I met other friends. Yes, I shipped my bicycle home and relaxed before planning my next trip. What an adventure this was … and cannot wait to do some bicycle travel again!

Bicycling the Path … an Issue

We are fortunate to have at least 131 miles of dedicated bike path available to us Tucson,AZ bicyclists. Why are we fortunate? It is so much safer to maneuver around other bicyclists, runners, walkers, roller bladers, and anyone else out on this dedicated path than to be on a roadway.

We have a beautiful, smooth bike path with appropriate signage and I feel safe cycling on it. (The farther I can be away from automobiles the better.) Yes, I hear people complain about speeding cyclists and working around walkers, but in the overall scheme of things this is all pretty great.

YET… my annoyance is when someone comes along and writes political messages in chalk on the pathway. I do not care what the message is, it should not be done! First off, I call that graffiti on a public space … I do not like it and would say a person should be found and fined. Secondly, we are all outdoors for exercise and a space to relax, not needing any prompts to piss us off!

Please keep your messages/gripes/political views to yourself and off our bike paths. Yup I was annoyed, so all I could do was squirt some of my water from my water bottle on those messages. Which annoyed me all the more since it was hot here and I did not want to be wasting my drinking water on graffiti. Geez don’t you know, water is precious here in the desert!

Bike path separate from autos.
People enjoy a graffiti-free, smooth and very long path.

Volunteering With Bike Repair

It is fascinating how many different kinds of bicycles there are! Just when I feel like I have a handle on how to repair a particular part of a bicycle, in rolls another bicycle to challenge my ability! But then again it is a reason for my continued interest in helping the GABA (Greater Arizona Bicycling Association) group repair bicycles at various Boys and Girls Clubs in the Tucson area. Besides the fact the young people do not have an air pump or do not know how to use it to care for flat tires, there are other needs such as new brake pads, inner tubes, chains, seats, and/or tires. In a 3 hour period of time, many bicycles get fixed and I learn something new each time too! It’s a great way to spend time with friends also! Good work all!!

Wayne knows his stuff!
Wayne knows his stuff!

Barb focuses on her work!
Barb focuses on her work!

Another new tire needed!
Another new tire needed!

Wonder What He’s Thinking?

Hmmm...
Hmmm…

Photography is my new goal…or maybe not so new, continued goal…I keep hoping it takes a lifetime to learn…just like tennis is a lifetime sport! Anyway, I like photos that are not the usual. I wonder what this guy is thinking?

Maybe:

Am I done for the day? Am I really ready to ride home on my bicycle with my surfboard? That ship really should not come any closer! Are the waves getting bigger or is that my imagination? Did I really need my full wetsuit today? Is it really necessary to be on my way or do I have another place to stop? Hmmm…

I know this guy had a great day! Did you? I did!

New City, New People, New Activity

What I discovered about myself is that I truly do get tired of the same old, same old. I think that was why the various jobs I had in my life were fulfilling! Teaching, I dictated the activity in my classroom; administratively every moment was dictated by the circumstances within the school; personal training and teaching tennis allowed me to meet the needs of my client(s); hiking guide enjoyed nature through rain, snow, or sun and made sure clients were safe; and travel, especially when solo, necessitated me to be on my toes!

And now I am in a new city, meeting new people, and enjoying new activities all allowing me to be on my toes, and I love it! I know this does not come easily to everyone, yet I am okay with it all. It energizes me! It is not the same old stuff! I hope others have opportunities to shake their life up every so often as I think it more importantly makes one respect and appreciate all that is in ones day. It is amazing and should not be taken for granted.

Road bicycling in Tucson is a big deal. With more than 130 miles of dedicated bike paths and many more roads with bike lanes, I have increased my bicycling time and enjoy it. Around the city there are different places to see. There is what is called the “Bicyclist Church” and always a good time to remember to wear a helmet and bright colored clothing, bike ride with traffic, be a defensive rider, remember your nutrition and hydration needs, wear sunglasses and sunscreen, and be respectful of others on the road, trail, or path. I’ll see you here on a bike!

Biker Church
Biker Church in Tucson

Snake!!!

The usual interaction with a bicyclist coming toward me on the bike path is a wave of a hand, a quick “hello”, or nod of head, But today, loud and clear, it was a simple word, SNAKE!

I had seen a snake when I first rode through this area and I did not stop to take a photo. It was just beginning its slither across the bike path. A woman said something to me and I responded that the snake simply wanted to get to the other side. As she stood there with her dog, I figured the snake may do an about-turn. But it did keep moving forward as she walked her dog away.

On my return trip on the same path, I thought for sure the snake would have been across the path by now and I would not see it. As I got closer to the area, a bicyclist rode toward me and with a loud voice yelled

, SNAKE! Okay then, maybe I will be in luck, see a snake and not have any other person or dog around.

I see the snake just finishing its trip across the bike path and on its way to someplace in the sand. I stopped to grab my camera and the snake immediately stayed in its place. No movement, and never did move until I get back on my bicycle to ride off.

Cool!

Slithered across a bike path in AZ!
Snake slithered across a bike path in AZ!

 

A Letter to Leaders….

Dear Leaders,

Yes, you as the leader of a family, team, environmental group, political group, school, church, or whatever organization you are a part of and designated leader, please read on. I simply want you as a leader to meet your responsibilities in a timely fashion, within budget, with concern for the people who look to you as their leader, and with justice.

I am tired, unimpressed, worried that our institutions are becoming out-dated, old, bankrupt, and with no concern for fellow man and woman. Our world needs leaders motivating others to operate at their fullest potential. Are you doing that?

Money is not the answer. Leaders need to create a work space that is healthy, supportive, fair, and with a vision so all know why it is important to support the organization you are leading. Happiness and inner fulfillment reap big dividends.

Leaders, go to work and work! Leaders, make decisions that will keep your organization fiscally responsible. Leaders, care for your people as though they are family…in a broad sense they really are! Leaders, be fair to all and when you seem to find it difficult, imagine you are walking in that person’s shoes!

Leaders, I applaud those who do the work at the highest level it can be done. Thank you!

Sincerely,

A member of some wonderful teams with super leaders.

Where Do I Write…

Today’s writing challenge is two-fold: 1. where do I write, and 2. create a contact form asking people to suggest what I should write about at an upcoming writing challenge. Hmmm….

I write most often while traveling. That is matter-of-fact, tell it like it is, what happened today sort of writing in blog format so my family knows what I accomplished each day, along with some photos. It is sort of a diary that is especially helpful as I revisit notes after the trip.

My other form of writing is whatever I can write in about 15 minutes in response to something I heard on the news, or any annoying factor in my life, or a unique thought I have and I just want to write about it so all can become more clear in my own mind. I accomplish this flash-writing in various places and often have notebooks in different locations to write….and always with a smooth flowing pen!

My writing goal however is to write a book about each major trip I have taken so my niece, nephews, and great niece know something about me years from now when they may be curious who their aunt happened to be. But for now, they can read the travel blogs while I am out on the road.

Okay, so here is part two of today’s assignment… Maybe you would be interested in some particular thing for me to write about in an upcoming assignment I may have two weeks from now? I am looking for your suggestion. I have thoughts about everything so please do not hesitate to offer an idea. I am not sure what the assignment will be; however, please fill out the

and give me an idea of what you may be interested in having me write about….thanks!

Seeing a sign like this one could easily be something I can write about, think about, and hope that others care about its message……you too can write, take the time….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Grand Canyon Plants Need Protection

 

 

Young Bicyclists Practice A Myriad of Skills in My Interaction with Them!

So anyone who knows me is well aware of my continued interest in being sure young people have opportunities to practice, and learn when needed, their communication skills. I was walking a NC neighborhood the other day to get in my cardio time and to practice my photography.

I arrived at a grassy corner where two young people held a sign advertising bicycle stunts for $2.00. Despite their incorrect notation, I knew their goal and asked if the donation was for them alone. They mentioned it was for the soldiers. We discussed the fact they should write that info on their flyer to encourage others to realize their efforts were for a good cause, and so they did. I further asked if they thought the amount of the donation high, but we agreed if I could practice my photography skills we had a deal.
Off they went to get the appropriate bicycles. Arrival: one bicycle with training wheels so one boy could stand on them to do a wheelie….okay, that was unique! Another bicycle for stunt riding through a bumpy patch with no injuries to person or bicycle, and finally the two boys, each on a bicycle, doing an “X”….debatable, but done!
When I asked to be reminded of our negotiations, the deal was $2 to split with soldiers and then split between the boys. Wait a second, the plan changed? Oh maybe so!
I asked, take a minute, think again, be honest, truly tell me what will happen with my donation. Answer: $2, with $1 to soldiers and $.50 to each boy. Handshake and agreement as one of the mothers took the money to go with the neighborhood summer BBQ “benefit to soldiers”.
Mission accomplished! Always fun interacting with young people and having them practice their communication skills in the real world. (No photos here per my agreement to not photo young people for my blog, unless absolutely necessary, or individuals in a crowd. It is a personal belief I maintain, and besides, it is the story that is most important!)

Horchata…is to drink and enjoy!

I am creating a new habit, especially when looking for a beverage break while on a bicycle ride. There are plenty of coffee stands, yet I think I have discovered a real treat. Horchata!

I had no idea what it was, but when the vendor said “cinnamon”, I was willing to give it a try, and have been drinking it ever since. Oh, did she also say the rest of the ingredients?

The authentic Mexican horchata is made during a process that seems to take a few hours to prepare…no wonder I will always buy it when on the road…soaking rice, almonds…and pouring through cheesecloth and adding cinnamon. Actually, I have no idea how to make the drink, but it is delicious.

Give it a try some day, especially if you enjoy cinnamon!

enjoy this drink...horchata!
enjoy this drink…horchata!

Horchata
Delicious to the last drop! Enjoy iced on a warm day!