jc blog - tales of a modern-day nomadic hunter-gatherer

Follow jcomeau_ictx on Twitter This is the weblog of Intrepid Wanderer. You never know what you might find here; graphic descriptions of bodily functions, computer programming secrets, proselytizing for the antichrist, miscellaneous ranting and kvetching, valuable information on living off the land... if you don't share my rather weird interests you may want to try slashdot instead.

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2009-08-31-2305Z

Eric managed to put up with my stench and took me all the way to Black Rock City, roughly 100 miles for day 31. We got in line early and had to go to "staging". Big mistake. We didn't get to a campsite until after dawn, while those who waited until after midnight were at a site by 1:30 or so. But I got my hammock set up as in my Wikipedia article, and have shared most of my beer and wine over the last 24 hours, and am feeling pretty good. I'm gonna have a good time, I just know it. I'm at at about 4:50H if you're here in BRC. Peace out. [comment]

2009-08-30-0458Z

Eric gave me a ride to Reno, and he might take me all the rest of the way to Burning Man if I can keep my B. O. down. That made over 480 miles for day 30, only about two of those under my own power; the first 34 or so were in a pickup, and 450+ in a 40 foot motor home. Intrepid Wanderer is in the lap of luxury. Copout? I don't think so. I'd rather counted on getting a ride from a fellow Burner the last few hundred miles, although I was also mentally prepared to slog it out on my bike if necessary. Physically, though, I'm not sure I'd have been capable, especially that last 100+ miles of nothing on dirt roads between Winnemucca and Gerlach.

In any case, nothing is guaranteed, and anything can still happen at this point. I'd like to find an open wifi AP -- I was able to use the one at Starbucks just long enough to upload my blog and update my facebook status -- so I can read my email, but there should be wifi at Burning Man for that. [comment]

2009-08-29-1358Z

I went looking for a bar. The first one I found in West Wendover was the Southern Xposure strip club. $7 cover and $5 bottles of low-grade pilsners. There I met Eric who had passed me earlier and who is also headed to Burning Man. So it looks as though I might make it! [comment]

2009-08-29-0136Z

Back through Riverton was easy. Then hit Herriman and passed through without incident. Somewhere in there I was eating breakfast sitting on a platic pallet outside a Maverik station, and admiring all the stunning young beauties walking in and out. Then one of them walks back from her car and hands me a $5 bill! "Thanks," I said, "but it's really not necessary." She said I should keep it, so I said I'd buy a beer and drink to her. She didn't seem to like that, but didn't ask for her money back. Then an even younger lady gives me a dollar. "Really," I said, "I'm not broke." "That's OK," she said, and walked away. "This is too weird" I thought, and biked away.

Leaving Herriman is farm country, and the nice shoulder I'd had all the way from the SLC area disappeared. I was dragging the bike and trailer uphill in the dirt, and riding downhill. On one nice ride down, I felt and heard something dragging. I stopped and looked. A hole! In my brand new drybag from REI! I cursed till my face turned blue, and then thought about it. It would still work for this trip, protecting the battery from rain. And once I finish my Brown's gas generator, I should be able to weld any type of plastic and fix this.

I passed mp 3 on 111 at about 1710 and rested there till the end of day 26. I don't know my total miles for the day, but am calling it 28.

Can anyone clue me in on how to use the attwifi signal at McD's? Unlike at Starbucks, I can never get redirected to login. At the start of day 27 I was at the McDonald's in Magna, and finished the "Bikin' to da Burn" sign on the back of my solar panel. I wasn't expecting Magna. My next town was supposed to have been Tooele (pronounced "to Willie"). But it was all downhill to and out of this town, so who's complaining? Had a weird experience with bricklayer Richard who said he wanted to do something nice for someone, then turns out, "I'm not a queer or nothin', but..." he wanted me to take a shower with him before he shared the sixpack with me. So I took my 3 bottles of Cutthroat and we went our separate ways.

Route 111 ended after a long downhill. I was lost, but took 201 West, which also soon ended (closed for construction, like so many roads in this area), so took 202 to I-80. Had a really hairy experience where the I-80 shoulder narrowed to 3 feet and the 18-wheelers were screaming past me inches away. But it's been fine since. I stopped in a "view area", though there wasn't much of a view at night, drank my beer, and slept. A cop pulled a car into the area and when he was done, came and chatted. Asked me if I knew what to expect and if I had enough food and water. No mention that I shouldn't be there on a bike. Good sign. And if he noticed the beer he didn't let on.

Got off the freeway at the next exit and headed to Grantsville. Slept in the park next to the fire station, and woke on my own without the assistance of a cop, which has been de rigeur the whole trip.

Just down the road was the Dead Dog Saloon, a friendly place. Followed a Cutthroat with Miller Lite, not wanting another Pale Ale stomach two days in a row. Bartender Trudy also serves a mean Knockwurst cooked in beer. 83-year old Burt bought me a beer. Almost hated to leave.

By 1730 day 27 I'd only made about 56 miles in 2 days, so decided to call it 28 for each. I don't mind losing some battles as long as I win the war.

Started day 28 at mp 5 of Utah route 138. Got on the Interstate, first milepost was 83. The Sinclair station in Delle was just opening as I got there. She let me fill up my water for free from the soda fountain, and I bought a breakfast burrito and coffee. Then I slept out by the picnic table. It's only open 0600 to 2200, and it's the last vestige of civilization for over 70 miles, so don't miss it.

Milepost 58 made 30 miles for day 28. Filled up water at a rest area only 2 miles later, and got a couple of free downhill miles, the last I was to have for a long time. Then it was walking and sleeping across the salt flats. I only made 24 miles, to mp 34, for day 29.

The next exit with services is exit 4, Bonneville Speedway. I was expecting to reach it Saturday night. Instead, here I am in Wendover, NV on Friday night. Roger and Ben gave me a ride of about 34 miles after I'd walked only about 2. Now to find a beer, a place with wifi to upload this, and hopefully a laundromat. [comment]

2009-08-25-0543Z

Made a mistake in my instructions for bypassing I-15 a few posts ago. I said to go from Redwood to 10400, but currently that's one of the many closed roads in this area. Instead go East on 12600, which becomes 12300 by the time you go under the first overpass; the second is I-15. The next left is called Factory Outlet Circle, which runs right next to I-15 going North for a while, but then becomes State St. at the next major intersection.

Some Couuchsurfers helped me out with directions, using a feature of Google Maps that shows walking routes, something I hadn't known about. So I'm encouraged to try I-80 again, knowing I have a Plan B that's only about 50 milss longer if I get barred from the Interstate shoulder in UT or NV.

So, the plan for tonight: back the way I came, then route 71 through Herriman, then Herriman Hwy/13100 to route 111, North about 1/4 mile, left around the mountains to Tooele, N on Main (route 36) to W Utah Ave, left, becomes 112, to E Main (route 138) through Grantsville to I-80W. No clue how much of that I can do in one night, but I'm really anxious to get the fuck out of Utah. It's not the people; they are as warm an friendly as one could possibly hope for. But, barring new construction, this place was made for cars, and cars only.

Speaking of construction: nobody seems to have informed this area about the worldwide economic depression. Or that sustainable living might be a worthwhile goal. don't get me started on the lawns. [comment]

2009-08-25-0310Z

At TGI Friday's for the first time in years. Met Kent and Queen Bee and enjoyed some cameraderie while drinking draft Cutthroat Pale Ale.

Took me maybe an hour to find the REI in this huge-assed mall. But I got their new design 4L Platypus bag, some new carabiners that fit over 1 inch tubing, a transparent drybag and some other stuff I needed and/or wanted.

My gears have been slipping intermittently since my last ride. Looked stuff over today andmy rear wheel is seriously warped. I mean, really bad. My bike will need a real overhaul after this trip, if it and I survive it at all.

Talked to a guy in the Paradise Cafe, and Craig at REI, both of whom have first hand knowledge of or from bicyclists who have ridden I-80 West of SLC and not been harrassed by cops. So the trip may still be on. Won't try it tonight, though. Gotta find a place to crash. It looked promising behind the REI if I didn't have my bike and trailer to conceal. Anyway, I've got laundry to do and stuff to mail home to myself that I don't need to be carrying. So maybe no progress for day 26. We'll see.

[comment]

2009-08-24-2338Z

Big monkey wrench thrown into travel plans.I hadn't even made it to the first exit when I got stopped by a lady trooper and told it's illegal to ride in the shoulder of I-15. She didn't know about I-80 but if that's the same story, I have no alternate routes that will get me to Burning Man even for the last day.

She told me there was an alternate route to REI, that State Street goes all the way into SLC. Checked the map. What a joke. There's a few mountains between where it ends and where it starts up again. With no roads at all that I can see. So I rode State to Pleasant Grove anyway, and there it dead-ended, closed for construction. East to 100E, north to 1100N, west to State again, north to Main, west to Redwood Rd, North to 10400, East to the REI in Sandy, UT. I haven't even been in yet; chilling at the Paradise Bakery and Cafe, affiliated with Panera Bread: coffee, wifi, power, and restrooms.

I hate sidewalks that end with no ramp and no warning, and that seems to be the rule rather than the exception here. Bitch, bitch, moan, moan, I know. But it beats the shit out of my trailer wheels when I have to go over a curb. I'll have to build a trailer with a suspension.

A blog reader sent me a link to Utah bike laws: statute 41-6a-102(51)b seems to indicate bikes are OK in shoulder. But it might not apply to Interstate routes.

Anyway I only made 28 miles by the I-15 route, but add at least 6 miles to that for the route I was forced to take: 34 miles for day 25. Start day 26 at mp 293.

Only had two catnaps today, maybe an hour each. "Concerned" people always calling cops on me when I nap anywhere near the roadside. So fucking easy to flip open the cellphone and dial 911. That's concern? Tonight could be bad. [comment]

2009-08-23-2324Z

Never left the coffeeshop. Took the opportunity to charge stuff and organize. Thank to the 69-mile ride, I can count off 80 miles for day 24. As soon as my camera battery is charged, will probably head for the REI store in Sandy, about 30 miles North on I-15. will hopefully get there by tomorrow morning. [comment]

2009-08-23-2110Z

Another problem with the shoulder on national route 40 in Utah. Besides being only 3 feet wide with a rumble strip right up the middle, it's also left rough, while the road is smooth. It makes a huge difference, believe it or not.

Struggling to understand the idiocy of people driving their ATV's, motorcycles, boats, ski-doos, and other motorized vehicles in their trucks to the lake or hills; riding around bsck and forth for hours; then loading up and driving back home. I was picturing these people with little airheaded happyfaces like the Wal-Mart or Yahoo! logos. Then it struck me. Speed is a drug! I'm not talking about amphetamines. I mean the effect on the body of moving more than about 3 MPH, normal walking velocity. Hence "runner's high" to the rush felt by racecar drivers and air force pilots.

A guy named Mike gave me a ride from mp 57 to the corner of 100 No. and University Ave. in Provo. About 69 miles, I figure by Mapquest. And I've still got two hours left to day 24. It was looking pretty bleak going up that loooong incline up from Fruitland, then bam! Everything is beautiful again. I'm at the F Stop Cafe here in Provo. Comfy place, friendly people, and wifi. Coffee too starbucky for my taste, but at 25 cents each I find it hard to complain too much. [comment]

2009-08-23-1357Z

I should never listen to cops. It turns out there's another little town 26 miles up, and from there it's all downhill to Heber.

Slept all night at the gas station. The owner, Alan, is a pleasant long-haired guy. Didn't bother him at all that I was camped out at his place all night.

Cloudy and cool today. Let's see if I can make up for lost time. [comment]

2009-08-23-0545Z

somewhere around mp 90, the shoulder went to 2 feet again. State cop tells me its 30 miles of nothing to the next gas station, then 40 or 50 miles of nothing to Heber City. Depressing.

Dax and Jenny gave me a ride to rest area after I'd biked my 30 base miles for the day. The cop hadn't mentioned a rest area only 10 miles down the road. I then passed mp 68 by 1730, making 41 miles for day 23.

Not far down the road, a long-bearded dude came tooling by in the shoulder, driving a golf cart. He asked, "Could you use a cold beer?" I answered "Hell yeah!" So he handed me a can of Pabst and continued down the road. Sweet. Another two vehicles pulled over later and the occupants asked if I were OK. Nice people. Still, Utah roads are hell on bicyclists. Though the shoulder is usable here and there, the default shoulder width seems to be 3 to 5 feet with a rumble strip making it 1 to 3 usable feet.

Now I'm at the gas station, at least I figure it's the one they were talking about. It was only about 11 miles past the rest area. It closed at 7 PM. It won't open until 8 AM. If I move on, I may well run out of water before I reach Heber City. But what am I gonna do here for 8 hours. [comment]

2009-08-22-1129Z

The food and coffee at the El Rancho Cafe were kinda blah, though the service was friendly enough. Wish I'd held out for Stockmans Restaurant about a mile down the road. I like their sign: "Come as you Are".

The shoulder of the new road past mp 122 is 4 feet or more beyond the rumble strip. Annoyingly enough, the shoulder shrinks to two feet or less just when I needed it the most after mp 119, like on the big downhill before mp 118. It widens to 6 feet again around mp 116. Entering Roosevelt, shoulder is unmarked so drivers use it as a second lane. Entrenched car culture for sure.

More bad coffee at Kim's. Ordered the patty melt, no fries. Very good sandwich, and Mrs. Kim is a trip.

Heading West out of town it's all industrial suppliers and such. Road is under construction, little to no shoulder. No mileposts for a ways, either. By happy coincidence, one appeared at 5:29 PM, about 12 hours ago: mp109. That made 44 miles for day 22.

Tried to charge my iPod because it was almost dead, but it was too hot in the afternoon sun. Apparently there's circuitry that prevents charging above a certain temp so the lithium battery doesn't explode. I'm cool with that, but it means I wasn't able to take notes on the shoulder width. I seem to remember that after the road construction ended, a decent shoulder appeared partway up the next hill. It lasted a mile or so, shrank, got bigger, shrank, got bigger, shrank again and stayed around two feet for miles, then widened to 3 to 4 feet for the last 10 to 15 miles into Duchesne. I'm on my way out of town already, it's really small.

I heard the drumming again tonight. It turned out to be, not some animal ritual as I'd imagined, but those huge-assed sprinkler systems the farms use around these parts.

It's 69 miles to Heber City. Sure hope there's a town or two in between. Couldn't find a wifi signal to check the map.

Twilight is just starting. Gonna be a long day, I imagine. [comment]

2009-08-21-1709Z

Woke up in a desert very similar to my own, except for the blue sage instead of creosote.Walked/biked the 6 miles or so to complete my base 30 for day 21. Naturally, I have to do a lot more than that if I expect to make the Burn under my own power. I'm still about 9 miles short of Roosevelt. Ideally, I'd like to make it to Duchesne today. Sitting in a cafe waiting for my huevos á la Mexicana and drinking coffee.

Back to last night: after one moderate climb, about 6 miles of downhill. In that area after about 134, I heard an intermittent percussive noise at about 4 or 5 Hz. Drumming, but I doubt by humans, and too uneven to be machines. Strange smell to this area I can't place. Maybe some kind of animal piss but I don't believe it's cows.

Shoulder varied between about 3 feet to well over 6 feet to about mp 126, where it's rarely wider than 2 beyond the rumble strip. It was gravelliest where it was narrowest, but at night I rode in the road anyway to avoid the road hazards. [comment]

2009-08-21-0414Z

That pale ale was very nice, not overly hopped, and only 4% alcohol. The 1/2 pound burger was filling, but I'm missing the zest of the green chile cheeseburgers of Nuevo México.

Found some precooked bacon at Davis Food and Drug in Vernal, $4.59/lb. Bought 3 pounds for the old tucker bag. [comment]

2009-08-21-0206Z

Shoulder widens to 6 feet or more at about mp 150. Was beginning to think this was a dry state, but on the outskirts of Vernal I found the Naples Country Cafe, which serves beer. Including two Uinta brews, Cutthroat Pale Ale and Golden Spike Hefeweizen (in bottles; nothing on tap). Ordered the Mushroom Swiss burger with fries.

Starting to plan some tactics in case I have to go to trial:

"Officer Kelliher, do you believe that the sight of your police car has ever deterred a driver from speeding? Yes? Then does that give you the right to pull people over at random, perhaps because you don't like the length of your hair or the appearance of their vehicle, and issue them a speeding ticket because they would have exceeded the limitexcept for your presence? Well, that's the moral equivalent of what you've done in my case".

Or:

"Officer Kelliher, please look into the judge's eyes when you answer these questions. Your honor, as all cops know and you very likely know, a person who is lying will avert his eyes. Police get special training to be able to lie without doing this, and even to be able to pass a lie-detector test, but I don't believe this officer will be able to avoid betraying himself if he perjures himself. Officer Kelliher, did you actually witness me urinating? Or standing there with 'my dick in my hand', as you put it? Or did you fantasize it? Did you want to see my penis so badly that you issued the ticket out of spite when you didn't?" [comment]

2009-08-21-0006Z

The first Utah milepost is 174. It was almost all downhill from Dinosaur to the state line, and the first 10 miles or so of Utah are on a gradual downslope. I took advantage of this, plus the lack of a headwind, to make up for lost time.

After mp 169, the usable shoulder shrinks to about 2 feet. So I rode in the road. There is little traffic, and what there is seems quite bike-conscious. At mp163, rumble strip disappears, making shoulder usable again at about 4 feet wide. Then, less than two miles later, a rumble strip is cut right down the middle of that! In some places it's paved over, thus usable, but better consider it unreliable until, after mp 169, the shoulder widens to at least 6 feet again. Starting to get passed too closely by bike-hating assholes and bike-unseeing dimwits.

In Jensen, had the lunch special at L and M Country Store. Everything overpriced, but the beef burrito was pretty good. After passing through all those no-towns (just names on a map) and closed towns, I've learned to grab a home-cooked meal at every opportunity.

Just past there, at mp 157, shoulder dwindles to two or less usable feet. A cop, Utah highway patrol, stopped me to warn me about the danger. He wasn't being an asshole, either. He told me about a bicyclist who'd gotten splattered on this same stretch, some time ago. He was riding with another cyclist, something I realized was a bad idea when I saw how some motorists swerve into the shoulder after passing me. Dollars to doughnuts they're looking at me out the right-side mirror. Anyone riding in front of me would be hurting or dead.

Milepost 153 makes 52 miles for day 21.

Night temps have been almost balmy since dropping below about 6000 feet.

Stopped at the Quizno's still 9 miles from Vernal, to use their wifi. Nobody knows the goddamned key. Nobody knows who to fucking call to get the goddamned key. Bunch of mindless zombies. Funny, in the movies the only way to put them out of operation is a bullet to the brain. Guess that makes these guys unstoppable. Fortunately, their activities are relatively benign. Will try to upload when I get to Vernal. [comment]

2009-08-20-1246Z

Sitting outside the Loaf'NJug 24-hr convenience store in Dinosaur, Colorado. There are restrooms here, so if the coffee triggers a nature call, I won't be facing another citation. Should be in Utah shortly after sunup. [comment]

2009-08-20-0652Z

"Can't talk about anything", as Fn always says. Took a nap and, on awakening at about midnight-thirty, a fairly strong wind has been blowing. Not always in my face, though. [comment]

2009-08-20-0219Z

Got some catching up to do. Hopefully it's not too scattered to follow. Just landed at the Massadona Tavern and am drinking a Coors, their best offering, while awaiting a Massadona Burger.

For day 18, I mentioned GG's in Hadley, where I had coffee, a sandwich, and ice cream, and charged my iTouch. I made it to mp107 by 1730, 63 miles including about 40 in Jose's pickup. Took a nap on the outskirts of town, then went back in for some dinner. I found the Hiway Bar, ordered a PBR (Pabst) and the fish and chips. Bad choice. The guys down the bar had steak, which looked much better. I switched to bottled Blue Moon and pumped some money into the jukebox; the crispy fish and soggy fries hit my stomach hard, and I had to shit several times.. I wanted to find a place to celebrate my best friend's birthday in Farm Town, a virtual world in Facebook, but Hiway didn't have wifi, and the pizza joint, which did, closed at 8. So I missed out.

There's mostly a good shoulder on highway 40 starting in Steamboat Springs. I made it to milepost 73 by 1725 the next day, making 34 miles for day 19. The town of Craig was closed when I passed through.

Nice things about riding at night: lots of falling stars, some with lingering afterburn tails. Cool weather. Generally no wind, a very good thing considering it's mostly been a headwind.

Bad things: headlights in my eyes. All the small and medium-sized towns shut down.

Health update: left hand seems better. Right doesn't seem worse. Cracks in heels seem to have healed, but a new, painful, crack has appeared in the middle of my right foot. Some back muscles are sore after some steep uphill climbs. Wearing socks and gloves since about Fairplay has probably helped the heel cracks, and most definitely helped the sunburn. Preventing further buttcrack rash by cleaning it with one of my cloth wipes whenever it feels damp or itchy.

Ideas: make trailer taller, and fully enclosable, to use as toilet. Recommend to REI to stock Palacios brand chorizo in their food dept; it's an almost perfect food, like a Slim Jim but without chemical preservatives (just pork, garlic, red peppers, and salt).

Made 42 miles to mp 31 to finish day 20. Didn't think I'd even make my base goal of 30, as one long hill took me hours to climb, but it was relatively smooth sailing after that. Should make it to Dinosaur for breakfast or lunch, and be in Utah tomorrow afternoon. [comment]

2009-08-17-2124Z

The Old Town Pub in downtown Steamboat Springs has a good selection of drafts, and wifi. After three pints, I took a leak and hit the road.

Not long afterwards, I had to pee again. I reached a secluded part of town and got ready, but a car was coming by. I waited for it to pass, but unfortunately it turned around and parked near me. It was a cop. Though he couldn't have seen anything -- I didn't get a chance to release even a drop, and kept my dangly bits out of sight -- he copped an attitude and wrote me a ticket. Lying sack of shit. If I don't appear for court next month, it says a warrant will be issued for my arrest. No idea how far that extends... only to Steamboat Springs? Statewide throughout Colorado? Nationwide? Whatever, it took all the joy out of my trip. Thanks a whole shitload, Officer Dan Kelliher and your fucking prissy attitude.

Made it to GG's Coffee Shop, the windmill looking structure on the outskirts of Hayden, for coffee and panini. Trying to get the joy back. Maybe I should have some ice cream. [comment]

2009-08-17-0546Z

After I had walked less than two miles into the headwind, an angel named Jose took me in his pickup to Steamboat Springs.

Had the mixed grill plate at Bombay Grill in Steamboat Springs. A good meal for a big appetite, but quite pricey at $22.00. Washed it down with a pint each of Newkie Brown and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. [comment]

2009-08-16-2333Z

Milepost 114 to 138 into Kremmling on route 9 made 24 miles; another mile to mp183 on route 40 made 25; and just crossed mp170 at 1730 to make 38 miles for day 17. Should be an interesting night; looks like rain, I've got a pass to go through, and the shoulders are few and far between. And I haven't had a decent meal since lunch yesterday. Did manage to get some sleep today, though.

Spent the last, coldest, hours of last night huddled over a sagebrush fire with David, a guy who was hitchhiking back home to Craig after having to go to Denver. [comment]

2009-08-16-0554Z

Melinda had to go to Silverthorne, so saved me 36 miles, and I started day 16 about 1545 near milepost 105 of Colorado route 9. I made 9 more miles under my own power by 1724, making 45 miles for day 16, and starting day 17 at mp114. A headwind, and the end of the paved shoulder, both came up in less than a mile. But by 2300 I'd made it into Kremmling, and sniffed out the Rocky Mountain Bar and Grill on national route 40. The last milepost I remember seeing on route 9 was 138.

This bar may be a dive, but they play good hard rock and they have one decent brew on tap, Widmer's Drop Top Amber Ale. I'm starting my 3rd pint. [comment]

2009-08-15-1341Z

Added up the miles so far, and it came out to 574, of which 90 was rides, so 484 on my own power. If all goes well, will begin day 17 around 5:30 PM tonight. [comment]

2009-08-14-1812Z

The other day I mentioned "remember the gorilla" after thinking about how bicycle riders can be invisible to motorists who haven't already been sensitized to cyclists in their midst. This video was what I was talking about. The page is kind of a spoiler, so maybe watch the video first, counting the basketball passes, then go back and view the page. [comment]

2009-08-13-0419Z

Sundown Monday, found the cig-lighter connector for my headlight had broken internally. Hadn't brought my propane iron. But couldn't just stay in Moffat overnight, it would have been too cold. So I started out by twilight, then starlight, hoping I was visible enough with my reflectors.

Then, shortly after dark, a Northerly wind combined with a slight upgrade made biking too difficult. Resigned myself to walking. Reached the last milepost on highway 17, mp 118, before it merged with 285 North, which meant 14 miles to start day 12 by 2:07 AM. The zero milepost for this stretch of 285 was mp101. I doggedly made 30 miles, then after another two miles began an 8-mile downhill that took me all the way into Poncha Springs. On the way down, some asshole threw a full can of beer or soda at me, which could easily have killed me at the speeds involved, but luckily it just glanced off my leg and my trailer ran over it. It was a bronze-colored pickup truck, and when I got to the bottom of the hill a bronze pickup with a yellow plate with red letters was just pulling out. But I had no idea if it was the same one, and in any case what could I have done? Had to let it go.

Stopped there, the High Valley Center at Poncha springs for a 90 Shilling ale and chile-smothered pork tamale, excellent. Then a few minutes later, headed towards the town of Salida, a blue pickup truck stopped in front of me and a beautiful cowgirl got out and hugged me. Melinda, my childhood neighbor from Skowhegan, who had recently reconnected with me via Facebook and my blog, drove me another 40 miles or so into Fairplay where I'm now couchsurfing in comfort, recuperating from the journey thus far. That made about 80 miles for day 12, and there won't likely be any more progress until Saturday evening.

Last night, besides getting a hangover from too much beer, my system adjusted to the high altitude (over 10000 feet) by gasping for breath every few minutes, waking me each time. Should go easier tonight. [comment]

2009-08-10-2354Z

Made it to mp 13 of 285 by 1730 to complete 35 miles for day 10.

Breezed through Alamosa after finding the first bar closed early. The last milepost I passed on 285 was 34. Then about a mile away, passed mp70 on highway 17.

The chips I bought at the stores in Antonito, where I'd found both a bank ATM and stores that take plastic, are making my system acid. The almonds didn't do that.

No shoulder most of 17 but traffic is bike-friendly. And I had the road to myself for a lot of the way where the road was being paved. Stopped at some of the little towns for friendly service: the Mosca Pit Stop, and the Brazen Cafe in Hooper.

By 1730 crossed milepost 104 for total of 56 miles for day 11. Sitting outside the closed cafe in Moffat typing this, using my Start-It that I managed to charge while riding all day, using my Sun-Linq 6.5W panel strung with bungee cords (found on the highway) across the back of my trailer. [comment]

2009-08-09-1813Z

In Espanola I'd somehow gotten off the highway. When I aw a sign "To 285/84" I had ahard time deciding if it was a mistake or not, but I decided to trust it and, after crossing the Rio Grande, there it was. Just past milepost 197, 285 splits off to right from 84. At the Chevron station there, I bought and overpriced little bottle of Mazola corn oil for my trailer bearings, chain, and cracked feet. It helped everything except the feet.

Route 285 was numbered differently. Milepost 337 was only about a half-mile away from 197, so call it 32 miles at MP337.

Just past milepost 339, a rumblestrip in the middle of the shoulder made it unusable. Crossed MP 345 at about 1724 to make 40 miles for day 8. Got to Ojo Caliente just in time to have a grren chile cheeseburger and iced coffee at the Mesa Vista Cafe before they closed. Spent my last $10-spot. Plastic just doesn't work in these parts, and places close early. Need cash and cache (plenty of food and water).

Realized the linkage needs to be rigid at both ends or it sags to hit the road. Needs to be reinforced with thicker walled tubing or solid rod, brazed on.

A spring over seatpost would be better than the piece of plastic tubing I have now.

Bad shoulder again around mp364, gravelly and/or rumblestrip down the middle. And after mp371 the shoulder is gone.

The wind has been intermittently from a Southerly direction yesterday and today. If I had a sail I could get a lot more "free" miles.

At this point I ran out of food. Now out of both food and cash, except for some pocket change. For the sake of bikers and hikers, it would be nice to have some services every 10 miles.

After mp 379, a newer road with something resembling a shoulder appeared. Got a sandwich and water in Tres Piedras with the last 4.50 or so of coins in my purse, at the Line Piñon Trading Post.

No shoulder again after mp 384.

Got to mp 386 before 1730, for total 41 miles day 9.

This is sagebrush country, cool breeze all day.

After mp 392, a new road with shoulder. Crossed the Colorado line about 0335 local time. Last milepost on NM side was 408.

Note on gear: the charging port on Black and Decker's Start It doesn't grip tight, and both the rain cover and charge adapter keep falling out. [comment]

2009-08-07-0201Z

By 1730 I'd only managed to pass the dangerous high-speed junction where Guadalupe Street meets 285. That made only 35 miles for day 7, and most of it was gifted. Day 8's miles will count starting at milepost 165 of highway 285.

Since then it's been mostly downhill into Cuyamungue, with nice wide shoulders. But after those high-speed downhills, my trailer wheels are squealing. Guess I'd better at least oil them. Should be a grocery store in Espanola. [comment]

2009-08-06-1859Z

I might have already mentioned, but am too beer-buzzed to bother looking: I made it to milepost 251 for 25 miles to complete day 6 of my journey. Leaving the Pueblo casino, past exit 252 there was a usable shoulder of about 1 foot. Can't count the rumble strip, and can't count the slope for rain runoff, particularly when it's angled opposite that of the road, so there you go (I pictured having to explain all this to an officer of the law... I didn't have to). It got back to normal, over 4 feet wide, within about 2 miles.

Then, near the top of the hill past MP 255, a guy was waiting in a pickup. Red Dog, a mixed-mode martial arts fighter and trainer, drove me like a bat out of hell to highway 285 (St. Francis road, exit 282).

Several aborted attempts to sleep during the night. Then when I found net access, headed towards a park. The entrance was effectively hidden; a fire station under construction, and the red curb of a fire lane entering the park: the Imposing Air of Authority. Got my conspiracy mode engaged. Thinking that in a year they could post a notice in the paper regarding the closing of an unused park in plat blah blah blah of the city. And in two years it becomes a new condominium development. Like the Vogons did to Earth for the new intergalactic freeway.

Young guy, didn't get his name, showed me how to adjust my handlebars at Ron and Charlie's bike shop. So now, hopefully, the feeling can come back to the fingers of my right hand.

Then I took the bike path next to the tracks and hit the 2nd St. Brewery. 2 pints of Rod's Best Bitter and an awesome burger and crisp fries later, and I'm having to switch to coffee if I hope to get any programming done. Tom, the bartender, is very accomodating, and the crowd is friendly. [comment]

2009-08-06-0106Z

Took 313, the old Camino Real, from Bernalillo to Algodones, then had to get back onto the freeway. The trailer's really dragging ass, I sure hope the bearings aren't shot. Might have to scale down my travel plans and ship a bunch of stuff home.

I did manage to fix one problem: the piece of tubing that connects the trailer to the bike has been sagging to where it rubbed the tire. I found a broken sprinkler head by the road, gutted it, cut off the narrow end with my wiresaw, and used the resulting piece of rigid plastic tube to lift the connecting tubing another 3 inches or so higher, slipping it over the seat mount. The wiresaw broke in the process, though. Guess it got flexed to the point of fatigue in my cargo pocket.

Right hand is getting worse, not only numb but less control over the fingers. Got to get the handlebars raised. Meanwhile, I'm taking it easier on my hands and walking most of the time. Only made 25 miles by 5:30, to MP 251. Went to the next exit for iced coffee and green chile stew at the casino restaurant. Good stuff. [comment]

2009-08-05-1649Z

I guess people just don't realize bikes use the shoulders. Nice, wide shoulders that narrow to almost nothing are deathtraps. Better to have it narrow from the get-go so people don't get sucked into it. There's only a 1-ft usable shoulder approaching the Alameda Rd. exit.

Leaving Denny's and reentering the freeway, I had to cross two lanes to get onto the ramp. As I was just hitting the far right edge of the ramp, a car passed me within millimeters. Very scary, whether he did it on purpose or just didn't see me. Remember the gorilla.

The gods sent me a Kent flotation device for free on the side of the highway. Slept on it for two hours this morning, here in Bernalillo at MP 242. Works great. [comment]

2009-08-05-0100Z

Let me warn you up front, this is going to be hard reading. I've got notes and ideas from two days or more, and I'm going to try to sort them all out.

First off, I'm at the Chama River Brewing Company in the North side of Albuquerque having a Rio Lodo Brown Ale. Got the pork belly special on order. It's been rough, and I'm going to treat myself.

OK, picking up from where we left off, I think it was Sam's awesome green chile cheeseburger and fries back at the lodge on El Camino Real. Gawd, it seems like a week ago.

From milepost 131 of I-25, the shoulder is badly cracked and dangerous for several miles. The cracks aren't just perpendicular to the shoulder, but parallel as well, and if I had steering problems with my mountain bike tires I can imagine how bad it would be with those skinny road tires. It looks as though a road crew did a cosmetic job of patching it without making it functional. Or perhaps it just eroded over time. Whatever the case, the road there has obviously been repaved, and the shoulder has not. The message I'm getting from the NMDOT is that bicyclists are considered second-class users of the roads. If you're considering a trip like mine, and you want to get some of those problems I mentioned fixed, you might and to call the Highway Dept. at 1-800-432-4269. I'll try to email them too if I get a chance to look some things up; I remember there being a special bicycle liaison.

It gets hard to motivate oneself when there's 30, 50, or even 100 miles to the next town. I've found a little trick that helps me: praise every footstep, rejoice every mile, celebrate every 10 miles. Use different numbers or units if you prefer, but this helps avoid the drudgery of "still only one mile closer?!?"

Notes on gear: the Platypus water tank, at 6 liters, is one of the best out there. But one of the two won't keep sealed and the other one does. Guess I'll have to buy a few, test them out, and keep the good ones. Cloth shopping bags can be used as mosquito head nets while sleeping. And remember, you can never have too many carabiners.

Kinetic sculpture idea "King Tet": tetrahedron with capsule and 4 legs sticking out with wheeled pontoon feet. Wheels retract when leg is moved from inside capsule, so you can propel it that way. I think it would tumble beautifully down Dead Man's Drop. And if the wheels all turned at a tangent, it could spin dizzily during the brake test.

As I'm sure I've already mentioned ad nauseam, gear should be multi-use. Since I already need a life jacket for the KGC, I should get one that also functions as a sleeping pad.

I made it to MP 175 for total of 60 miles day 4. I guess it must have been yesterday evening I hit Belen. What a godforsaken, unfriendly town. Darkwads at breakneck speeds on the freeway. Sheriff dept. truck stopped to tell me I was going to get hit after I just crossed the street to McD's. Sullen teens mumbling obscenities about the hippie. My bike is invisible, and a guy pulled right in front of me. No bike lanes in the South end of town, and not all sidewalks have ramps. Even the mosquitos were mean, descending on me like a plague just at dusk.

I got lost a few times and hit at least one dead-end, trying to avoid the harrowing breakdown lane of the freeway. Ended up getting back on it anyway. All those cars screaming by at 70MPH plus. Reminds me of that quote in Wounded Knee, something about the white man always hurrying here and there and never seeming to be any happier when he gets there.

Up to now I'd made it a point not to pass up a bar. Now that I'm in a metropolitan area, I'm having to be more selective.

I've come upon what might be another vision curing method. Close eyes hard then open as wide as you can. Look at distant target. If blurry, keep trying till it comes in clear, maybe one in 30 tries. Then test it on closer and more distant objects. Eventually it will blur. I've managed to hold the focus for maybe 5 seconds. But I could be deluding myself and it's just another manifestation of the pinhole effect, somehow.

It finally struck me after thinking about the YouTube video Greening the Desert, which I've watched umpteen times: keeping land swaled and bermed makes it desertproof. People watching encroaching desertification should start now, not wait until everyting dies.

My fingers are getting numb. Got to watch that; it took months, as I remember, for them to recover after the last big bike trip, and I'd thought at times they never would.

Sold my first commodity option at about an $80 profit, my first win after a string of 5 losses. Tip: buy and sell using limits: placing market orders almost guarantees you'll pay too high and sell too low. I've got a hunch that the wild price swings during the trading day are due to clueless newbies placing market orders. Remember, a sucker is born every minute, and two to grab him: the brokers for buyer and seller, who probably split the profits made by making the trade at a few cents higher or lower than the going rate.

It struck me: I'm at last truly nomadic. All those times I waited for rides to EP or LC were unnecessary; I could have just biked there.

Perhaps you're familiar with the "cornucopia" idea, popular among conservatives, that states that everyone can be rich. I once was an adherent myself. But I see that the zero-sum people are right in some respects, at least in the short term. Fresh water being one glaring zero-sum item in the desert, with a few squandering it.

Applied dust to the buttcrack rash, from under a mesquite tree, and it definitely helped. Also have been applying light-colored dust to backs of hands, and they haven't gotten noticeably worse. Same thing I used as sunscreen at last year's Burning Man.

Made it to MP 226 by 5:30, for a total of 51 countable miles for day 5. Feet hurt. Right knee hurts. Not enough sleep. Might not be able to go anywhere tonight after these 2 pints. Next goal: Santa Fe, about 55 miles North. [comment]

2009-08-04-1210Z

Made it to Los Lunas. More when I get to ABQ.

[comment]

2009-08-02-2303Z

Not far up the road from the cafe, I stopped at the Caballo Tavern for a beer. Or rather, MGD, the closest they had to a beer. The Nutt bar was about the same in that respect, Miller High Life being their best offering.

I almost passed the whole length of Caballo Lake before I saw the sign at mile post 24, "primitive camping". It said $8 per night, but all I wanted was a swim and a nap, and figured I could make a deal, or better, not see anybody. And that's what happened. I took the left fork past the gate, then straight through the 4-way intersection, then the right fork. I parked at a dead-end before the road washed out, climbed down to the lake, and had a swim. Couldn't nap and watch my bike, though, so got out of there.

Made it to Truth or Consequences by 5:30, for a total of 56 miles for day 2 of the journey. And all of it under my own power. Stopped at Los Arcos for some beers and a Prime Rib (so called) sandwich, way overpriced at $10.99. And the beers! $4.99 each. A guy named Gary bought my 3rd one, saving me from even worse "sticker shock".

Then asked at the gas station for route 181 and found I'd just passed it. So much traffic was passing me I figured it was a mistake, but almost all of it turned at the next junction, 171, leaving me with the road pretty much to myself. I figure it was two miles on Broadway to where 181 started.

I knew I was supposed to get off 181 at the freeway entrance 89, but I missed it. Went down a 2-mile hill to find the road closed, and had to push my 100-pound or so load back up the hill. The sign at the freeway entrance was encouraging, though, specifically mentioning bicycles in the shoulder only. The entrance was at about milepost 10 of 181, making 12 miles for day 3 at that point.

Problem is, the usable shoulder at the bottom of the hill was only about 2 feet wide. My trailer tires hit the rumble strip, and I had to stop and walk it up the next hill.

Took exit 100, thinking it was highway 85 to Socorro. But with no sign mentioning anything, I found a gravel road just off the exit ramp. Slept for a few hours in the gravel pit.

Got back on I25, found another bridge with almost no shoulder at all at Nogal Canyon. Made it to a rest stop, and rested up for a few hours, charging my battery with my folding solar panel. Then went another mile or so up the road, to exit 115, Camino Real, and Sam served me a green chile cheeseburger and two ice-cold Negra Modelos. Very good.

Finding I'm needing 9 to 11 liters of fluids daily, maybe 8 of it water. Got sunburn on hands and feet, buttcrack rash, raw spots at the base of both little toes, and muscles are sore. Other than that, I feel great. Made about 38 miles on day 3. Now off to Socorro. [comment]

2009-08-01-1720Z

24 hrs after the start of my journey, I'd made about 57 miles, 37 under my own power. Stopped at the Nutt Corner Bar & Cafe for a few beers. Joe, the owner and bartender, said it used to be the Middle of Nowhere Bar. Ordered a pizza, which he called "small", for $6. It was so big, and filled me so full, that I almost threw it up later.

The place is cash-only. Guess that's the norm in these parts.

Hatch Road, Highway 26, was bike-friendly with a paved shoulder for the first 27 miles or so from Deming. Not far after the bar, the shoulder becomes bumpy, then packed earth, then variously nonexistent to loose gravel. Approaching Hatch, with some welcome downhills, it becomes paved again but only randomly marked.

I slept last night not far from the bar, and started for Hatch about 0315. Missed my turn onto 187 at first, then went back and found it by the DoIt Best hardware store. Now I'm in the in the Arrey Cafe where I had a burrito and iced coffee. Good homemade salsa. [comment]

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