Sunday, March 20, 2011

...6 Days and 420 Miles Later.

So, yes, the ride has begun. I am currently sitting at home in Phoenix taking a short rest before taking off on the road again. Im staying in town till Thursday because there are several events taking place that I wish to attend and I could definitely use the break. Anyways, I have internet and ill fill you in on the ride so far.

 I tried not to think about the bike ride on the way to Cali and while I was there because I would feel nervous and aprehensive. It was the fear of the unknown that made me the most uneasy, did I train enough? Will my body be able to handle the extensive riding? How tough will the hills be? I stopped thinking and turned my mind off and relaxed as much as I could before the ride. I have to say thanks to Jess and TJ for driving me out to Cali and feeding me and letting me stay at their house, it was well appreciated. Well, Monday morning came along and Jess drove me to the beach. We decided the day before that I should start my ride from Oceanside since it was closer to their house and it was right next to Camp Pendelton, making it an appropriate place to begin my ride. Jess snapped this photo after I dipped my rear tire in the oean and just before I hopped on the bike and rode away...frankly, I was still pretty nervous.


Anyways, as I started riding the concerns faded with the miles. Riding near Pendelton was interesting, got a few honks and waves from people passing by, but this also continued the whole way back to Phoenix, never the less it kept my motivation up. My first day of riding was supposed to end in Julian, Ca but after riding 54 miles along the 76, I reached Lake Henshaw around 3:30 and still had 18 miles to go before reaching Julian, and the rest of that ride would be all uphill. I made the decision to stay at Lake Henshaw since continuing on would have me riding into nightfall and thats something I didnt feel comfortable with.



Climbing a hill east of Pauma Valley, riding from shade patch to shade patch to rest and escape the sun. I forgot sunscreen. Ended up buying some on day 2 after getting cooked up.


 Utilized a creek to cool the head off...felt great!

Looking back at my progress, the 7 miles from Pauma Valley was all uphill 

And, enjoying that down hill that followed :D
 Turkeys running amok

 I stopped at a camp ground to look for water and ran into this gentleman, Tony Lee, very supportive of the ride.

 Lake Henshaw

My room for the evening.

I woke up to a foggy Tuesday morning. I lingered in my room till about 8:30 till the fog lifted and visibility improved. I jumped on the bike and rode to the store to turn in my room key and ran into a couple curious folks. Both were very interested and supportive of the ride as well, on of the guys was a Vietnam Vet, former Marine, Staff Sergeant Erwin, and he was excited about it all. I was happy to have met him. I feel bad that I cant remember everyones names. Even though its been 5 days or so since, it still feels like a lifetime ago...so much has happened and so many people but I will never forget everyone I meet. Just the names and for that I appologize.
 After the fog started clearing.



Caryn, thanks for the donation!


Semper Fi

After taking these photos I hit the road and started the final 8 mile climb over the mountains.



I reached the top and the downhill was amazing, I reached 45mph. I was blessed with roughly 20 miles of down grade. In that distance I dropped almost back to sea level and when the road leveled out, I started the ride through the open desert.

Brawley was the goal for day 2


I made a pitstop at Ocotillo Wells for lunch and to refill water. While there I ran into a group of Special Forces operators doing some training, again, with the names...I forgot but I talked with one of them and he was quick to sign the flag for one of his buddys he lost during his Afghanistan deployment in 2010.


I left there, continued down the road into the flat desert and rode and rode and rode. The asphalt never seemed to end. I would stare into the horizon and see where the road ended and when I reached that point and looked further ahead, the same sight greeted me...the endless road. Obviously it did end otherwise I wouldnt be writing but I expect to ride more routes such as this in the near future.


Well, I did reach the end and rode the next 23 miles into Brawley. I went to Walmart to restock on nutrition and determined that I should keep pushing...the next day of riding was supposed to be 87 miles through the desert past the Imperial Dunes and past Glamis and little, if any places to stop for water and to rest. I figured I should ride as far as I could at night so I would consume less water versus riding in the heat of the day and risk running out. Well I pushed on, breaking my goal of 100 miles for that day and kept going. The sun set and I rolled the flag up and rode on...and on...until I reached Imperial Recreation area and stopped to talk to some people still awake. They refilled my water and told me the only stop for the next 50 miles was a small store at Glamis, 9 more miles down the road. I thanked them and trudged along. My body was exhausted. The sun had burned my right side (I had forgot sunscreen but bought some at Walmart) and I was running on Raisins and mental will. Upon reaching Glamis at 10 pm, I pulled off to the side of the road and tossed my sleeping bag out and went to sleep...or tried to. I fell asleep near the railroad tracks and they turned out to be very busy...trains kept me up for most of the night.  Day 2 finally ended. Riding 119 miles and on the road from 8:30 am to 10:00 pm, 13.5 hours.





Waking up the next morning was rough. It was 200 feet to the store and I needed to walk there and refill my water and stock up on some more. The mind was willing to do this but the body not so much. I could barely walk. My legs ached and the tendons and joints were sore but I made it never the less. Jumped on the bike, and had the same problem. The legs did not want to ride. They complained and whined...for the next hour they put up a fight but the mind over powered them and they fell into line after that miserable hour of riding. Day 3 ended in Blythe, I biked around town for a bit and ended up meeting a Vietnam Vet who was staying at one of the pay by week motels and we talked for a bit. I got a room at the Motel 6, showered, did my laundry in the sink and went to bed. I was excited for the next day, I would be crossing California off my list of states and starting a new one, Arizona!




The next day I crossed the Colorado River into Az, I had to ride along I-10 for roughly 30 miles. I had to deal with heavy traffic but that wasnt too bad. Alot of drivers showed support as they passed by waving and honking as they passed, keeping me motivated. Over the 30 miles, I got over 43 honks, it was pretty cool.




My ride ended 64 miles later in Salome, Az. I stopped at the Salome Cafe for food and got to talking with the waitresses, Ashlee, Christy and Karen and ended up getting my meal paid for, which was wonderful, thank you very much!



My next leg of riding was from Salome to Wickenburg, Az. This day was pretty motivating. I passed up a group of 4 bikers riding from LA to Boston. I didnt ride with them because they only would have slowed me down. I pedaled away for 22 miles and arrived in the town of Aguila. I stopped at the gas station to refill my water and take a break and while sitting there, my bike attracted some attention from people passing though. I started talking to one of the guys and his younger daugher, maybe 13 years old, got excited when she found out what I was doing and she raced to the car to get her camera. She was all smiles and motivation and what she said when they left had me smiling all day. She had a large grin of confidence on her face and told me I was going to do great. Thank you Alicia! That was so awesome to hear! I dont know if it was her sister but I assume it was, Kamryn, she handed me a 20 that her mom gave her to donate to the ride as well, thank you guys soo much! I hope you read this. I wont ever forget you.

I reached Wickenburg and when I rolled into town I had a sudden craving for chinese food. This turned out to be a good thing because while I was sitting inside, an suv pulled up that was wearing veteran license plates and it turned out the woman driving it had recently lost her husband who had served in the Airforce...she signed the flag and snuck out of the restaurant after paying for her food and the host, Andy, told me she paid for my meal, that was very nice of her, thank you! Andy was very generous, he made sure I had plenty of water and then hooked me up with a few egg rolls before leaving.





Andy

I spent the next few hours wandering the downtown of Wickenburg seeing the sights and I stopped for ice cream and was sitting outside enjoying it when a couple walked up and asked if I was biking along the interstate that day. I told them I was and they said they had passed me several hours before. Well this couple turned out to be amazing. Larry and Sang Dunn from Riverside, Ca. I spent about an hour talking to them while waiting for a couple friends from Phoenix to drive up to see me and it was a rewarding experience. I enjoyed the stories Larry had to tell. His brother, had served in Vietnam and has since passed away but I was more than happy to ride in his honor as well. Larry is an amazing man, he made some calls to some friends to help spread the word about the ride and offered me a nice donation as well. Larry and Sang, thank you guys very much. You made my day even more special and you are two people I will always remember. Thanks for the generosity and support.


I spent the rest of the evening hanging out with Nicole and Jaryd. We decided to go camping and we did, but long night short, it was absolutely freezing so we went to Jaryds and fell asleep at 4am. Jaryd made pancakes in the morning and I rolled out around 11. When I was riding out of town, I was trying to make time but there was a significant headwind that was slowing me down...suddenly I heard a ring, ring! coming from behind me and it turned out to be another rider trying to catch me. His name was Rob and he was going to Florida. We rode for about 10 miles and talked about things before I split off. But before doing so, I dontated him my tube because his were too small and he kept getting flats...it almost came back to bite me later but everything turned out fine.

Coming back into Phoenix, it was windy. Nothing is worse than fighting the wind on a bicycle. It sucks the spirit our of you and is highly demoralizing. I made it to the I-17 and Carefree Highway and ate lunch and reported to Laona where I was. I ended up leaving and heading down the road and was getting more frustrated by the wind when I heard a car horn, this one seemed different and attracted my attention. It was mom and Maria. They had hunted me down. I stopped and talked to them for a bit, told them which way I was going and that ill see them later when I got home. Well, riding down the road, a car started blaring its horn from the road side. It was mom. She had sped ahead and hid the car and ambushed me. This continued all the way into town. As I was nearing my neighborhood, I swung into the neighborhood where Henry Brown lived so I could say hi and tell him I just made it into town. Well, mom had called ahead and Markus was already waiting for me since he lives in the same neighborhood. Henry wasnt home (I met with him later) but I stopped to talk to Markus. He signed the bike and mentioned a family around the corner that had a son who had commit suicide after returning from Iraq because of the horrors he had suffered. Markus went to her door and explained to Mary what was going on and she signed Domonics name on the flag. He is a casualty of war as well and should never be forgotten either. This scenario happens more than people would like to know about but it is a fact and a tragedy all together.




Well, to finish this off, I nearly got a flat a few miles from home but it worked out and the tire held air long enough for me to get home, even though my uncle Vic had delivered 2 more to me when I was nearing the house. Everyone was happy to see me home and so was I. Its going to be a busy couple more days while im here but its ok. I look forward to the next time im on the road and anticipate all the new experiences coming my way.

12 comments:

  1. You lied.you said you never used my sunglasses. And I've seen them on your smiling face a time or two up there! And btw I LOVE the picture of just your moving tire on the road. Its awesome :) I love you!love, Laona

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  2. This sounds like the start of an AWESOME book, or maybe even a movie!! Great start!

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  3. I enjoyoed reading through your day by day experiences...it is raining here in Phoenix so it is a good time to be getting ready for the next long miles of "open road!" It is great having you home for a few days! love, mom

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  4. I have been keeping track of your journey and though New Jersey is not on your route - there is a group of Blue Star Mothers of the Jersey Shore #4 who will keep you in our prayers -
    Safe Riding and have FUN - PEACE

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  5. Keeping you and all of our military persons in our daily prayers! Thank you for your service, and allowing us to raise our children free from fear. It's a great honor to follow your ride.

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  6. Wow! Very neat to read your story! We will be remembering you in our prayers and all the families who have lost loved ones fighting for us! Safe travels!!

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  7. hey levi! its great to read about your bike trip so far. it sounds like it is going pretty good. i am so proud of you for following your dreams. I love you and take care. :)
    ~love Annabelle

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  8. Hi Levi,
    Your doing great wish I could of came with but my job is here with our troops, May God keep you safe as he did in Afgan , and may many people reach out to you in your time of need, Keep us posted and your doing great THANK YOU HERO!!!!

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  9. Hello from the great white north.... how about a bike ride to Alaska!!!!
    Jari

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  10. Hey! this is so amazing! All the people you have met, all the stories you have heard will stay with you forever. you are an awesome man. I love the part where your mom was hiding the car to surprise you lol. I still say you need to ride thru more of the southern states ;)

    Always, Luvy

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  11. I was thinking about your bike ride today and sure nuff came by here to read a bit and found you did blog about your journey one year ago today! How sweet is that. I also noticed some pictures that's not on your face book page so it was like seeing it thru your eyes. You're such an awesome man!
    Always, Luvy

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