Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The big finish

Current Location: Encinitas, California
Total Distance Traveled for the trip: 3,590 miles

Wyatt and I reached Imperial Beach, California around 1 PM Pacific Time on August 2nd, 2009. It will be a moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life. That last day I was remembering everything that had happened on the whole bike ride and was starting to get a little emotional as the miles melted away. Slowly, but surely the miles left to go went from 73 to 60 to 30 to 5. The way I felt as the end approached is almost indescribable. We had gone so far over so long a time that it was just weird to be almost done. When we were two miles away we finally saw the ocean on the horizon. We started yelling and letting out war cries. Once we arrived at the pier at Imperial Beach we saw the people that mattered to us and gave them huge hugs!! Thank you Donna Marie and Cynthia for letting us stay in your house!!

We took some pictures then I unloaded my bags onto the ground which weighed 55 POUNDS!! Then we took off into the ocean. I brought my bike along and once it wouldn't roll anymore I carried it into the water. We started yelling and screaming. We were in heaven. I won't forget that moment for the rest of my life. I won't be modest now. It was a huge sense of accomplishment!!

Final Thoughts

There were moments on the trip that I seriously doubted myself. The desert was by far the hardest part of the trip. There were times I thought if the wind started blowing in my face while we were out there we just wouldn't make it. If we got stuck out in that heat it could have been the end. I think that was me just being worried, but it was desolate out there.

There were a few things this trip definitely helped me out with. I was lying to myself when I thought I had completely grieved about my brother. I thought I had dealt with his death, but truth be told I had just pushed it away and tried not to think about it. I had not realized that before, but now I do. I spent anywhere from 6 to 10 hours a day on my butt riding on that bicycle and I had so much time to think. I thought about my brother constantly wondering what he would have wanted out of me. I thought about how life dealt him a bad hand. In the end I realized that he wouldn't want me to be angry at the world or to be sad all the time. He would just want me to be happy and to always remember him in my thoughts. I did and will always. He will continue to live through me. Whenever I saw something amazing such as a rainbow, or biking up to 10,300 feet in cloudy and rainy weather, and then once I reached the top the sun came out and I had the best view of my life, I thought about him. I honestly thought he was with me. I will always remember the good times that we had. Each day I rode, I thought about 5 different good times that we had and then wrote it down. I now have a list of 250 memories of him. I don't think I would have remembered half those things if I hadn't done this. He was my best friend and always will be. I love you Andrew.

I'm more focused. I clearly know what I want to do in this world. I want to help people in anyway I can. I used to have a more selfish attitude, I was more of a me person, and I regret that. I am so lucky for everything that I have. I have parents that love me, a family that supports me in what I do (for example this bike ride), and money was never an issue in my family. I saw so many people on this trip that had nothing. They were poor, their parents were drunks or ignored them. I saw such poverty in this country that it shocked me. The amazing thing was that these people were still so nice and generous when I talked to them. They would buy me lunch, stop on the side of the road and give me water, or let us sleep in their house or yard. It was just amazing to me. These are people that deserve a chance to succeed and I want to do anything I can to help them.

I just want to say thank you to everybody for their help and support. You have know idea how thankful I am to everyone who donated and believed in me to do this. I promise I will call everyone of you in the next few weeks and personally thank you.

I will always chase my goals and I hope you do too. This journey was life changing for me.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

the final assault

We have 130 miles to go over 2 days. We will arrive at Imperial Beach on August 2nd at 1 PM Pacific Time. We'll be right by the pier and then we will plunge into the Pacific!!

I'm not sure if I'll have sufficient internet to write in the blog tonight, so if not i'll talk after the ride is over!!

Oh and we're going to be less than a mile from the Mexican border at times in the next 130 miles. I have border patrol on my speed dial right now!!

African sand dunes

sCurrent Location: Brawley, California
Total Distance to date: 3460 miles

Well sleeping at the hotel pool failed miserably. We thought we could sleep on the roof of the pool house, but a person that was staying at the hotel saw us up there and we figured it would be good to leave and not get caught by any person of authority up there. So we head out to a park that turned out to be decent. Wyatt sleeps on the picnic table and I put up my hammock. 2 hours later these lights are flashing and a cop says, "what are you guys doing?' We're pretty out of it, but we're able to mumble the right things. He says he'll let us stay there, but he takes our licenses to make sure we don't have any warrants out for our arrests. We don't and he breaks the rules and lets us stay.

We head out to Brawley which was a 90 mile bike ride. We started at 5:30 AM, but it was just too far to make before the heat came. The worst was that for 60 miles there was absolutely nothing. There was nowhere to stop and nowhere to get any shade. About halfway through this guy pulls up about 300 feet in front of me and stops. He starts waving at me. I stop and it turns out he has all this water. At first I thought he was a mirage and I was hallucinating. The heat goes to your head. Thankfully he was real!!! It got to 115 degrees yesterday and we road right through it. I feel like if we can ride 90 miles in that kind of heat, we can do almost anything physically. The craziest part of the bike ride was that all of a sudden these sand dunes rose up. It looked like the Sahara desert in Africa. I really don't think I've seen anything like that in America before. these dunes were hundreds of feet tall and were made of white sand. It was awesome.

We got to Brawley and are staying with someone from couchsurfing. He was at work when we got here so he just left his house open for us. It was nice to take a shower and get that sunscreen off me. I'm wearing SPF 60 and I coat it on myself. I put enough on my face so that i look like a ghost.

We have some mountains to climb today and tomorrow, but it should finally cool down sometime tomorrow morning as we cross over them. Imperial Beach is coming!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

California Dreaming

Current location: Blythe, California
Total Distance Traveled: 3363 miles

Still in the desert. Still hating this heat. Yesterday we left early from the fire station and made record time to our next town. We got to a little breakfast restaurant around 10 am, just before it became unbearably hot. Luckily the waitresses there were very nice to us. The place started filling up and before we knew it we were both asleep in the booths. Apparently a few people tried to get us kicked out, but the waitresses said "where would they go?" Nice women!! These hot places in Arizona are all destinations for northerners to come in the wintertime so in the summer everything closes early. They closed at 2 pm. i quickly saw that we were in a dilemma so I started to talk to one of the waitresses and mention that sometimes people will just invite us back to their houses. This girl then said she had a pool! She ended up inviting us back for a swim and her mom made us dinner. The family loved us and we ended up camping out in their backyard.

the common view out here

We woke up at 5 am and started out towards California. We were pretty stoked. The only thing we were slightly worried about was that we had to ride on the interstate today. We have avoided it previously because there were always other roads, but now there was nothing except the interstate. We got on and it turned out to be great. There was a wide open shoulder and the road was recently paved. It was all downhill too so that's always nice. We get to the state line and take millions of pictures. We had some people honking congratulations at us. Sadly, I got a flat tire about 20 feet after the state line, but that's not a big deal.

3360 miles

We made it to a McDonald's at like 11 am and this is where we've been all day. It's currently 8 PM. We're just happy to be in a place that is air conditioned and open until we can leave at night.

The problem with this area is that you can only ride at night or early morning so you don't get much sleep and then you can't do anything in the day except sit inside.

Our plan is to leave McDonald's when it gets dark. I found a pool at a hotel nearby and they don't lock the gate so it's pretty much open to the public so we'll just go sleep on a lawn chair for a little while and then head out.

Three days to go. 229 miles. We'll be arriving at Imperial Beach at about 1 PM pacific time on Sunday, August 2nd.

if you want to see the route we're taking for the rest of the trip just click this link.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

the gates of hell

Current Location: Wickenburg, Arizona
Total Distance Traveled: 3250 miles.

The last two days have been interesting. We went from probably having the best bike ride of our lives to one of the worst. We started off in Flagstaff and headed down about 40 miles into Sedona. This was the most breathtaking ride ever. All of a sudden you ride into this canyon which is about 3,000 feet lower and you transition from forest to red rocks. You drop this elevation in about 9 miles. The roads are narrow and two lanes and wind around the mountains. The cool thing was cars can't go much faster than 25 mph so we could actually go faster than cars. It's a sight that I will remember forever.

the road dropping into Sedona

We dropped down then we had to go right back up again and we ended up stopping two nights ago in a town called Jerome. It's a town that's right at the top of a mountain. Apparently it's a big tourist town. This guy on a motorcycle passed by us as we were riding to the top and asked us about our trip. He was pretty impressed and proceeded to buy us a cool beer when we got to the top.

We camped out on a dirt road by and old church and fell asleep instantly. We awoke to MADNESS!! All of a sudden these lights turn on right behind our tent. It's a truck and then he REVS his engine. We're screaming in the tent and yelling swear words. We thought this was the end. Luckily, he was just playing with us and probably was wondering why we were camping out there. We laugh about it now.

The next day (Yesterday) was when we realized what we're dealing with. We descended from about 5500 feet and 100 degree weather into the heart of the desert. The gas station right at the top before you dropped down to 2000 feet said that we were entering the "gates of hell." I can't think of a better description. All of a sudden besides a few cactus's life disappeared and it was just dark rocks. The temperature increased by 15 degrees and so we were hit with a 115 degree weather. I literally felt like I was being roasted in an oven. It was so hot!! We persevered and made it to Wickenburg in the heat. I carry about 20 water bottles with me so I'm very hydrated as a much proven method has shown me.

we stayed at a fire station last night and I slept pretty well. We were treated to a good meal and some good company. It's about 4:30 am and we're about to head out to Salome, AZ.

We have 332 miles to go on the journey. It's hard to believe that's it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

headed to the desert

Current Location: Flagstaff, Arizona
Distance Traveled so far: 3091 miles

It's been quite a few days and right now is the first time in a while that I've been able to access the internet. 3 days ago we set out for the Grand Canyon. We really wanted to go there, but it was about 100 miles out of our way. We sucked it up and just said we could do the extra miles. So after about 10 miles we hit this road construction and we don't think any of it and just proceed. The road crews were laying tar and asphalt down on the roads in 103 degree heat. So we bike into it after the cars and the stuff they lay down starts sticking to our tires. After a few minutes I start wondering why we're going slower. I look at my tires and realize that the road is sticking to them and we now have an extra 1/2 inch of crap on them. After a few minutes we just stop because this road stuff is hardening on our tires and starts rubbing against our breaks. We're in a pickle at this point. We're thinking that maybe it's our fate to not get to the grand canyon. We figure we'll just hitchike past this road work (which was 15 miles long) and go back to our original destination.

So we start putting our thumbs out, but that doesn't really work, so I get the bright idea to just start waving my arms like we're in a serious emergency. This does work!! An RV pulls over and they let us in. It was a family from the Netherlands that was inside and they said that they're going to the grand canyon. They're going to the EXACT SAME SPOT that we wanted to go to. They said they'll take us there and we're overjoyed. We throw our bikes into the RV and hop in. This family was so nice. They had two kids that were hilarious and spoke very good English. We watched movies with them and learned about living in the Netherlands. When we got to the Grand Canyon, they said that we could camp in their spot with them and we just set up our hammock and tent next to their RV. Then we went on a hike with them around the rim.

It was BREATHTAKING!! This is a spot that all people should go to. We spent the next morning fixing our bike tires, which was tedious work, but eventually we finished. We biked 77.7 miles to Flagstaff to get back on track. Now we're here and about to leave. We spent yesterrday and today here with a girl that I met off couchsurfing. Her name is Kimmy and she was very generous. We head out to dinner with one of her friends the second we arrived here and they ended up paying for us. It was very sweet. Couchsurfing really is great too because when you go to a town you don't really learn about it or know whats great about it. But this provides you with a local that is more than willing to tell you anything and pretty much invites you into their home while you're there.

We're about to head out to Prescott, Arizona now. About half way we're supposed to bike through a place called Sedona. This is supposed to be one of the prettiest places in the country. If you get a chance google it. After Prescott we'll be hitting the most intense desert the world has ever seen. The heat reaches 120 degrees during the day and we'll be in that until we get close to San Diego. So we think we're going to start riding at night.

We only have 6 days of biking left. We have only 487 miles to go until we reach the Pacific. It's really hard for us to believe.

Oh we finally figured out how we're getting home. Turns out that the cheapest way is taking the train home since we can ship our bikes back for only 20 bucks. We got this pass that is 350 bucks and it takes you to as many places as you want to go as long as your down in 15 days. Flying would have cost way more PLUS you wouldn't have the chance to see all these places. It looks like we'll be getting home around August 20th now.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Current Location: Kayenta, Arizona
Total Distance Traveled: 2934 Miles

So we've been pretty fortunate the last 2 days and nights. We've crossed into Arizona finally and visited the 4 corners. We've had wonderful places to stay which will continue tonight as well. Also, we've had people drive by and stop and talk to us because they saw are article in the newspaper that was in Farmington a few days ago. Our morale is very high.

2 days ago we arrived at the four corners and got a little crazy with our pictures there. People were being quite timid at the center and were just standing on the actual point. We get in there and start lying down on all four states having a good time. After that you should have seen the change in the crowd. All of them got the same picture.

After we arrived in Teec Nos Pos and stayed in a Navajo chapter house, which is kind of like their administrative building and a community center for their town. We got their and met all the local officials and luckily a lot of the kids were hanging out there when we arrived, so we talked to them about what we were doing and why we were doing it. The people were very hospitable to us and one even brought us spaghetti, sauce, and a pot, so that we could cook in their kitchen. It was nice to have a home cooked meal for once. We hung out with the head of the town (kind of like a mayor) named Roy and he ate with us. We learned quite a bit about the Navajo culture and their future plans for helping their citizens. It was a really good experience.

Yesterday we departed and headed for Kayenta and had one of the best rides ever. We rode through amazing magnificent terrain that was desert, mountainous, and had many canyons. The wind was at our backs so that always makes a ride good as well. We arrived in Kayenta fairly early and we stayed at a HOTEL!!! Our friend Lizzy Solti's parents in Utah arraigned for us to have a hotel here and a hotel tomorrow. These hotels also have pools. It's a life of luxury right now. The thing is I had so much trouble falling asleep in a bed last night!! I slept in my hammock at the community center so that was more normal. A bed is almost too comfortable that it's uncomfortable. It's so strange to me.

2 cool things that happened. One we're at the border of New Mexico and Arizona taking pictures at the Arizona sign when a SUV pulls up and says to us. Are you the guys that were in the paper yesterday? We say yes and they give us some money and wish us luck. Also, yesterday when I'm in the middle of nowhere in the desert, a van pulls up in front of me. I'm a little scared at first because there really is nothing out here, but a guy gets out and he says, "you're the guy in the paper." I say yes, and he hands me a water bottle for the travels. Really nice people out here.

We're about to head to our next town called Tuba City. It's our last town in the Navajo nation. The next day we see the Grand Canyon!

The end is near. 10 days until the Pacific Ocean.