Tuesday, December 21, 2010


What I've learned so far:

1) Move forward. Find a way. There's no point in whining about anything.
2) No matter what, you can!
3) Remain in the moment, plan for the future.
4) Don't live in the future.
it's not here yet.
it probably won't turn out how you hoped anyway.
even if things don't turn out as planned, the joy is in the process.

I was glad to leave Baker City. It was concrete, motels, junk yards and unhappy folks at dinners. There was minor climbing and the land soon leveled out. We slow pedaled across land that was harsh and dry, but not so much so to eliminate greenery. We passed ranches, cattle, cabins, rivers and canyons. We passed horses grazing in windswept grass being fed by the steady mist of irrigation.

We rolled downhill, following a river gorge, stopping to look at the vast, open land. Appearing hills soon altered the landscape once again thus limiting the view. With the town of Oxbow ahead, Idaho is near. From what I've been told, if I can handle the mountains so far, I should be O.K. One day at a time is all I can handle. The rest is too overwhelming.

Rock on!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


We woke in Baker City to more cold and rain. Immediately out of town we began an 8 mile, 2700 foot climb. The fog, yet untouched by sun, layered the earth with an ominous tone. The climbing was slow and rhythmic which lent for time to hear rain clicking on my helmet. My breathing was slow, healthy and alive. It felt so good to once again live so well, so healthy, so deeply! I rode with gratitude and heart felt joy.

The fog soon gave way to the suns rays shining across the valley floor. I descended hills with stinging sleet. A Blue Herring flew from the surrounding pines, silently gliding above. I saw a fox chased by dogs. I watched a cow leap a ditch and stand hillside protecting her calves. I witnessed deer and elk running across the valley floor, cutting through grass with such athletic grace you couldn't help but get off the bike and watch in stunned amazement.

The day was filled with the spectacular.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


It rained today, all day. Heavy rain and light rain. We rode from Coburg, around Eugene, to McKenzie Pass.

Initially I thought I'd write about the riding. As I sit and think, my thoughts are led to the people I have seen along the way. I got a glimpse of America today. A good America. An America that I am beginning for the first time to truly love. The waitress at the dinner this morning had a tooth ache, she kept working. A truck driver across from us had a recently shaved head. A scar along the side of his skull, I'm assuming, was from a recent surgery. He got in his truck and drove. He went to work! I'm beginning to see an America that does have standards. It's an America based on being an individual, working when you don't want to work, and striving for a good life.

It rained today, all day. Heavy rain and light rain. Yet, I look back and see a country, my country, as a spectacular place to be.


Like my cancer treatment, the ride across America is dealing with the day to day unknown. It means dealing with the moment, the next city, and not the entire 4200 miles.

I'm filled with uncertainty, but I'm hoping for a good outcome. I feel well, better than I thought.

We left Salom 70 some odd miles ago. I write from camp in Colburg. The ride started with hard climbs which soon flattened to a steady 12-15 mile per hour pace. I cannot begin to describe the beauty of the area. It is one of rich farm land with greenery and distant mountain peaks. The silence is disconcerting yet liberating. I'm tired, I'm scared, I'm free. We're headed for McKenzie Pass in the morning.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Today was day 1. Pacific City to Salem, Oregon. We did 78 miles with steep climbs that seemed endless to my Texas legs. I was one of the slowest, but given my recent health situation I really don't care. Well, that's not true. I'm scared as hell about being last! Either way, the climbs were a struggle and I have concerns about slowing the group. I have concerns about how I will feel tomorrow. The ride, from what I understand, will be 55 miles. Very tolerable, then again, today was supposed to be 65.

We woke to 50 degrees and rain. As we drove to the coast the sky turned blue and clouds drifted away. The Gods, it seemed, smiled on us as we dipped a tire in the Pacific and began our journey to the Atlantic. We stopped at Otto's, ate a burger the size of a face and hash browns to match. The surrounding town surrendered to the deep green of the mountains while the mountains surrendered to fog. Everything seemed just as it should be in this part of the world.

The beauty of that which is natural seems to transform people. It crawls inside of them opening chambers for peace. There is an ease here, a feel unlike the city where the natural world is secondary to the artificial world of buildings, controlled temperature, and technology. Nature brings order. People seem to assist rather than resist one another.

Tomorrow is the second day. Good grief, how embarrassing to not have the stuff to make it.

Monday, December 6, 2010



"Be kind and merciful. Let no one come to you without coming away better and happier."
-Mother Teresa

I'm wiped out! Last night the flight from Houston was delayed a couple of hours. I arrived in Portland around 3:00 a.m. Pacific time. I write from the corner of the hotel room bed. Before me lies a tattered bike box with shifter cables in similar condition. Anyway, my mind is still on teaching and the daily routine with Adriana. It might sound odd, but I'm not even into this thing yet and I already miss her. I wonder what it will be like to not share a morning coffee with her for the next 50 something days and hearing about her day. I'm just so tired from work and travel I'm questioning everything. Tomorrow I ride! I'm scared! I'm everything! Who do I actually think I am to hop on a bike after cancer treatment and ride across the United States?

I don't know what I'm getting into. I suppose I'm living on hope for the next couple of months. Now that I think about it, hope was the very thing I so desperatally needed for cancer treatment. Now wouldn't be a good time to let go of it.

During the course of the trip I wish to express myself with the awareness that I am in the middle of something special. It is a special time in my life. I'm overwhelmed by the support of my family and friends. I'm overwhelmed by the opportunity to rediscover peace while I pedal.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yellowstone, it is all that!

Every now and then the world opens its doors revealing a splendor beyond words. Pictures, not captions, reveal a depth to life that borders on the extraordinary. I hope you enjoy the pictures of Yellowstone. I hope you discover your version of extraordinary.

The thick smell of sulfur filled the evening air!

A quit evening in a vast land.

Memories ........

Moments after Old Faithful.

Old Faithful!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Good to meet ya' Archie

"Life is a bundle of great little things."

-Oliver Wendell Holmes

There is nothing more pleasant than waking to the sound of a rushing river. This was the case in Oxbow, Oregon as the sun burned off the morning dew and brought to life the smell of sap and pine. A fleece lined jacket took care of the morning chill while a steaming cup of coffee made everything just right.

On the road by 6:30 a.m, we hugged the shoulder as we passed through sun drenched valleys and mountain tops speckled with late season snow. As logging trucks passed with their first load of the day, I was in awe of their cargo; the size, the smell, the years it must have taken the trees to mature. It was a shame to see them hauled away.

With 45 miles on the odometer our pace slowed as we rolled into a diner. A gentleman approached the table. Around 5'6'', he was stooped, with a white beard, and eyes that were soft and kind. He stood with his arms behind his back, made reference to our cycling gear and asked if we were on a trip. I mentioned we were riding for cancer awareness, I was a survivor, and we're riding coast to coast. He listened, nodded, turned, and simply walked away. Slightly baffled, we shrugged and waited for the waitress to appear. She was glad to see we had met Archie. No, he was not the owner. No, he didn't wait tables. In fact, he didn't even work there at all. She said he appeared occassionally, spoke to customers, walked through the kitchen talking to the staff, and cleaned a table every now and then. He was retired and everyone just loved to have him around.

A few minutes later, Archie reappeared. He started speaking of his red Ford Festiva and how it got 48 miles per gallon. He was terribly proud of his daughter as she recently graduated from college. He lives next door to the diner and loves Idaho with all his heart. He is a poet, and this is what he wrote.

The Idaho Invitation
by Archie
Come share it with me
Touch the softness of morning
See the dawn on the meadow
Feel the warmth of the sun
Hear the cry of the Osprey
Hear the trumpeting chorus
Of the Elk in the valley
Know your day has begun
Try rafting the rivers
Glide and sore with the Eagles
Hear the backcountry calling
Make the summit your goal
Feel the skis in the powder
Sing the song of the mountain
Feel the Idaho heartbeat
Creeping into your soul
Come on,
Come and share it with me
Oh! One more thing.
Air so pure you won't want to exhale
With that, Archie paid for our coffee, shook our hands, got in his red Ford Festiva, and lead the group safely through his town.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Slow Down

"Slow down and enjoy life. It is not only the scenery you miss by going too fast-you also miss the sense of where you are going and why."

-Eddie Cantor


I hope all is well in your part of the world. I'm writing from the porch of a hostel in a little town called Mitchell. It's about 80 miles outside of McKenzie Pass. The porch is really cool. The roof extends well beyond the door offering cover from sun and rain. There's a beat up pair of cowboy boots by the door next to a sign that says "Please remove spurrs before walking on wood floors." I don't know what the population is, but I haven't seen more than 10 people since I arrived. Every now and then you see a muddy truck with a dog in the back. The owner hops out and heads in to the burger/bar for a shot of Jack Black, a burger, or to sign up for Friday's amateur boxing night. Anyway, they serve up a burger the size of your face ... well, not yours sweetie ... let's just say the burger was huge! The fries are so big they flex when you pick them up. The guy that served it bought the place about 5 years ago. He didn't seem like the owner of a burger joint to me. He had a thick grey beard that hung to his chest with yellow nicotine stains on his face and fingers. He told me he and his wife moved out there because he had a job on a ranch. The job fell through so they bought the burger place and stayed. It's kind if funny all the twists and turns a person's life will take.

I hope you enjoy the photos! As soon as I get cell phone service I'll give you a call. Talk to you soon.



Monday, August 9, 2010

Fear of Success-McKenzie Pass

“Hiding a talent is not exclusive to any one particular group of people, young, old, black, white, Latin. It doesn't matter. It's universal. The idea that you have a gift or talent is always kind of threatening. Most of us are afraid of our success, that we will actually be great.”

- Laurence Fishburne

As I write, I feel incredibly content. It is a contentment derived from the realization that a personal victory has been achieved. I awoke this morning at the foot of Mckenzie Pass. It is one of the first "real" climbs of the trip. Up to this point, I had convinced myself that if I stared long enough at a topography map the route would suddenly be ridden with ease. This, of course, would not be the case.

McKenzie Pass was closed and we were forced to take the lower route, Sustaine Alternate, which involved 34 miles of consistent climbing with 4800 feet of elevation gain. The remaining 60 miles involved rolling terrain.

The next morning, the skys were heavy and overcast. While eating breakfast and filling water bottles for the day, I faced potential failure and physical pain. Later, while riding, any gradient change marked the beginning of my doom. I was quietly, but assuredly, marking myself for failure!

In, Relections on the Art of Living, Joseph Campbell wrote to the effect that anything you do has a still point, or, what I take to mean a time in which things are neither good nor bad, they simply are. When you're at that point, according to Campbell, you can perform maximally. Basically, I was riding out of fear rather than in the moment. I had yet to realize that "still point." But as happens so often on the bike, the observance of one's surrounding takes over and anything beyond your immediate world is no longer part of the moment. A still point often arrives.

I remember the initial challenge of the climb, but somehow the moment seemed to ease its way into the ride. A slow grind up the pass turned into one of awe as moisture-thick trees parted to make way for the deep rumble of waterfalls.

Peaches and trail mix fueled my body as I swept through turn after turn, and climb after climb. Trees and foilage, still dripping with moisture at noon, became barren and dry from elevation later that day.

Mt. Washington appeared in all her stillness as I crested the pass. While observing, I took note of the moment and declared it one of success.

Every so often there are days when you live deeply. This, I am happy to say, will be one to remember.

Friday, August 6, 2010


"An intense anticipation itself transforms possibility into reality; our desires being often precursors of the things which we are capable of performing."

-Samual Smiles

While walking with controlled anticipation down the hall of the Salem, Oregon hotel, I leaned my pannier-loaded bike against the wall. I was a continental breakfast away from riding into day one. I soon found myself staring at a plate of waffles, eggs, and peaches and questioning my desire to put food in a stomach clenched tight with emotions. "Mornin'," a stranger said. "Where you headed"? I side-skirted the issue by saying, "Not far." "Lot of stuff on that bike to go not far?" he responded. There is a time, I suppose, when anticipation becomes reality. I mustered up all the confidence I had and stated, "I'm riding my bicycle across the United States." With that one admission to a stranger, I walked away from a world of anticipation and stepped into my new reality.

The air in Pacific City, Oregon (the starting point), was moist with recent morning fog. The town surrendered, it seemed, to Pacific ocean spray. Eastward mountains revealed lush greenery from time spent canopied with clouds laden with rain. Surrounding beauty, however, offered little comfort as I looked into the mountains and wondered if I would make it through the first day. Not allowing too much time to think, I swept the Pacific sand off my feet, put on my riding shoes, clipped in, and rolled away to the gentle hum of the tires. 78 miles of first-day struggle would ensue leaving uncertainty about my body's ability to cope. It seemed as though my Texas legs struggled up mountain passes both long and short. My heart rate stayed high as I grinded my way along roads of uncertainty.
For reasons unkown, I awoke the next morning and hopped out of bed with a zeal that surprised even me. My legs felt so fresh, so ready to ride, I couldn't help but look forward to the day. With new spirits I headed to the blinking truck stop dinner sign, ordered coffee, and found myself observing and listening to those around me. What I saw and heard, as simple as it seemed, changed my perspective and my mentality forever. The waitress took my order; her face was pleasant, yet lined from years of smoke and struggle. She kept holding the side of her face. When asked, she said she had a toothache. Her boss would let her take time off, but she wanted to work. To my right a truck driver with overalls and buttons that strained against his weight. The side of his head was shaved revealing a recent scar. He left a tip, grabbed his keys, hopped in his truck and went to work. Just like that, nothing said, no complaining; the guy went to work. The flag out front was half staff. The community, it seemed, had soldiers in Iraq. I'm beginning to see an America that does have standards, an America with people that ask for nothing and work for everything. An America that wakes daily, stands on its own feet, and strives, despite adversity, for a good life. I left that little diner in Coburg standing a little taller and understanding that my country is a great place to be. It will be an honor to see more.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Celebration of Life

"The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach".


In late September 2008, I was diagnosed with cancer. Surgery, chemo, and radiation introduced me to a darkness I have never felt. June 4th, 2010 marked the beginning of a 57 day self-supported, 4200 mile, bicycle journey from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Each pedal stroke introduced me to fear and self-doubt, as well as heartfelt elation and joy. The ride was a privilege, a gift; in fact, it was a celebration of life. It showed me that I am a survivor and that maybe, just maybe, I can reach for greater heights.

My hope is that I can convey my journey in such a way as to do it justice. In an effort to collect memories, I took pictures daily and journaled nightly. Combining the two created what I hope to be assorted reflections and lessons of a special time in my life. Rather than giving a day-by-day account of the trip, I reviewed pictures and journal entries in three day increments. The significant events are what I'd like to share. I include few details such as speed and distance as they have little relevance other than meeting the August 1st return date. The following is the retelling of my story.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Half way home

Needless to say, the blogging has not worked out as anticipated. Every attempt to write has been thwarted by either lack of internet access, remote locations, or just long days spent in the saddle with free time spent finding food and shelter for the evening. With this in mind, I have established a routine of using good old fashioned pen and paper to chronicle memories. Combining this with pictures, I look forward to piecing together the trip to the blog in a couple of weeks.

With limited time to write before we, once again, hit the road, I can say this trip, thus far, has been both exceptional and extraordinary. I am in the midst of an adventure of a lifetime! This awareness enhances the experience allowing me to further appreciate ever changing surroundings.

I currently write from Kansas. We have ridden though Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, (including Yellowstone and the Tetons), Montana, and Colorado. Heat, snow, rain, sleet and wind are all part of the day. Elements of the outdoors have proven to enhance the experience as the environment is ever changing and never controlled. Within this environment I have ridden past buffalo close enough to feel their stare. I have awakened at night to a growling pack of wolves, 75 yards away, attacking something weak or establishing command. I have been sore, tired hungry, and elated. Magnified emotions are par for the course. I have never, however, let go of the thought that a short while ago this might have never been. It goes without saying cancer is a nasty thing. The opportunity to ride across our breathtaking country is in stark contrast to the sterile and confining walls of a hospital. Although the contrast in experiences is, at times, overwhelming, I am thankful to see what this country is all about. I am learning that I am proud of my country! We are, indeed, a good people. I look forward to sharing.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

We finished Day 5 in Mitchell, OR. Day 6 we rode 81 miles to Prairie City and on Day 7 we rode 83 miles to Baker City. Day 7, Friday, we rode 56 miles to Oxbow. The views are spectacular and we have experienced every season under the sun! We have been rained on, sleeted on, experienced icy cold conditions and, when in the sun, some extreme heat. There are times when we are going from sun to shade that we experience about a 10 degree drop in temperature!! The wildlife, especially the elk, are fun to watch.

I have some awesome videos and pictures but no way to post them yet. So stay tuned because when I am able, I want to share them with you all!!

Today is Saturday, June 12, our first real day of rest since our journey began. I am doing very well and feel very confident! Tomorrow we will be in Idaho as the journey continues!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Journey Has Begun!

We started our trip across the United States by dipping our tires in the Pacific Ocean at Pacific City, Oregon. Day 1 we rode 78 miles to Salem. It felt good to have the first day under my belt and I did surprisingly well! Day 2 was a 73 mile ride to Coburg, OR. Day 3 we rode to the base of McKenzie pass--about a 60 mile ride. Day 4 was supposed to be a trip over this pass but it was snowed in so our alternate route took us over Suntaim pass--a very beautiful and scenic ride, but all uphill!! We rode a total of 80 miles on Day 4, stopping in Redmond. Day 5 will take us through Pineville and will include about a 70 mile ride with a 2000 ft climb! I have discovered that riding in Texas just can't prepare you for the kinds of elevation changes we are experiencing in the Casscade Mountains of Oregon--but I am learning to cope and do just fine!! I'm learning that the important virtues of patience, passion and persistence will give me the strength each day to make the journey! These are the same virtues that gave me the strength to fight my cancer! I am truly blessed!!

(Posted 6/9/2010)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A balanced life

A thought I try to abide by:

A balanced life involves living simply, pursuing passion, doing good, and loving much.

I leave for the airport in a couple of hours. I ride the 4th. I anticipate two months of living simply, pursuing passion, doing good, and loving much.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Great Day Houston

It was a cool thing to be on TV, even if it was only for a minute or so. Initially, we were told, I would have a chance to talk about the bike ride. But, when time is running short on live TV, they need to pick and choose what is on the air. Getting the message out about Cancare rightfully took priority. At last count, there were 10 callers that were placed with volunteers before the show even ended! Mission accomplished.

Here's the link:


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I never thought my mug would be on TV!

A couple of days ago, I sat down and began to write. It turned into a rambling mess about the traffic in Houston and the challenges of riding during the week. The more I wrote the angrier I got. In effect, I caught myself wallowing in frustration about a situation that will not change. So I set aside the laptop, put the leash on the dog, and headed to the park for what turned out to be one of the most relaxing tempo runs I have had in some time. No, it wasn't saddle time, but at least I got in some training without having to bob and weave my way through the evening traffic.

After returning home, I cleaned up, and decided to check my email before I, once again, began to write. I was amazed at what I found. There was a message from Cancare asking me if I would be interested in appearing on Great Day Houston with Debra Duncan. I mean, how cool is that! The subject matter is young cancer survivors, my bike ride across America, and Cancare. Who would have ever thought that a short time ago I was struggling to regain my health while trying to come to terms with a terribly uncertain future. Now, I'm back teaching school, I will be riding my bike across the U.S., was highlighted in a Cancare newsletter, and will appear on TV in the morning.

I'm blessed. That's all I can say. I get to go on TV, if for only a few minutes, and talk about riding a bike for an organization that I feel so strongly about. Wow! I suppose it's a good thing to think to reach for what is possible rather than spending time dwelling on what will never change.

The show will appear May 12th on channel 11, from 9-10am. I have no idea what to expect, so I hope it goes well. Either way, it's a cool thing to let people know that Cancare does good for those currently not at their best. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Morning Silence

There are occasions when I ride, when the sun is coming up, the streets are empty, and silence is broken only by the hum of tire and pavement. The world, it seems, is waking from rest.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cancare Interview

Cancare was nice enough to include a write up about the upcoming Trans American trip in their newsletter. I'd like to think, in some small way, it raises a little awareness for their organization. I'm proud to be a part of the service they offer!

The link is below:


Riding pics

Whenever I ride, I bring my camera. Here are a couple of pics taken of things I see when zipping around town with my riding buddies on Sunday morning. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Kema and the Space City ride

The Space City ride made for a good time. As things worked out, I met a buddy in Kema who was riding with his wife. I got to their house about 6:30 am, and we left just shy of 8:00. We hadn't seen each other in a while so it was good to catch up and slowly get ready for the ride. The weather was so good we road from their front door to the start and added about 15 miles each way to the ride.

It seemed to go unsaid that we were not going to push the pace or even worry about speed. I stopped and took a couple of pictures. Now that I think of it, they were taken from the parking lot of a kalache shop and the front of a coffee house. It was a day of little concern and steady miles. Not exactly training, I suppose, but 65 miles is 65 miles and, at this point, I'm after time in the saddle.

I got home in time to start paitning the upstairs bedroom. A project which took a bit longer than anticipated. In fact, it cut into a lot of after work riding time this week. Either way, it's good to start getting some of the projects around the house done before the Trans Am ride.

With the trip planned and details in order, the focus, for this month, is long miles and time in the saddle.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Donate to Cancare:


In a few days I will send an email to my coworkers explaining my intentions to ride a bike across the United States. I have been reluctant to make this announcement, in fact, I have told few people about my intentions. I have been reluctant partially because it is surprisingly easy to write in a blog about such a trip. There is no possibility for ridicule and the vulnerability from potential failure is lessoned as there is no interaction with others. The blog has, in affect, offered a haven.

If I opted to remain in this "secure" haven, I would make my close friends and family aware of the trip, and then roll down the road. If I kept the trip to myself, however, there would not be funds raised for www.cancare.org. In addition, I would suppress an opportunity to express gratitude for a return to health and a life of hope. In fact, in many ways, not making an announcement is an indicator of a lack of full commitment. Part of pursuing any significant goal, I am learning, is directly confronting potential failure. It is through this confrontation that a strength and resolve is derived. A strength which is acquired only through a public announcement that I will be riding my bike across the United States.

If you are so inclined to donate to Cancare, please do so at the link above. All money will go directly to Cancare and a receipt will be mailed to you. No money goes to my trip as I don't think it is right that others work so I can ride.

Space City ride

I went to the www.bikebarn.com ride calendar and found the Space City ride tomorrow. After spending so much time fighting the Houston traffic trying to get long miles in, I finally relented, and signed up. I really hate throwing my bike in a car to go ride. But, it is what it is and tomorrow should be beautiful! The bike is already loaded in the truck, all I need to do is jump out of bed at 5:30 in the morning, snag a Starbucks, and hit the road.

I'm looking forward to a great day. A little time to ride, breath deep, and enjoy uninterrupted time on the bike. Maybe it will even turn into a century ride. Either way, I need to hustle as real life waits in the form of a paint brush and bucket of primer. Time on the bike, time working around the house, and time with my wife. That's a good weekend indeed!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Success Defined

I rode 61 miles today. The weather was beautiful and the pace was steady. I worked my way down Memorial and soon rolled through Hershey Park and by Addicks Reservoir. As traffic lessened the pace became steady, the pedal stroke rhythmic, and the act of riding and thinking soon prevailed.

My mind began to wander, as it often does, and I soon began to think, for some reason, about success and failure. I had a need to clearly define, as related to the trip, what is success, and what is failure? The answer did not arrive without considerable thought. In fact, I started this blog entry several times, and stopped as my thoughts were never clear.

My initial response to the question was matter-of-fact. If I finish the trip, I succeed, anything short of that is a failure. Well, this is true. But life is not matter of fact and this trip is a huge part of my life. In order to answer the question, I needed an all encompassing solution. A solution which holds true in life and in the endeavors that I choose to pursue.

I have felt self imposed pressure to use this trip as a means of marking my return to health. I know full well, however, that if this is my only objective, crossing the finish line in Virginia will be a bit hollow as the trip was self focused. Although this would remain the trip of a lifetime, and I would be honored to have had the experience, it would not be achieved in the way that I desire.

I remember, while in college, reading Ralph Waldo Emerson and his thoughts on qualities that made for a successful life. As I recently went back and re-read, I discovered ideas that, if pursued, success, despite the outcome, couldn't help but follow. With the thoughts of Emerson in mind, I found the line between success in my life and my cross country journey soon blurred. Although the wording is not exact, his thoughts remain beneficial to my version of all encompassing success.

1) Laugh often and laugh much.
2) Appreciate beauty.
3) Find the best in others.
4) Give of one's self.
5) Leave the world a little bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition.
6) To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation.
7) To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

So yes, success, in this case, is partially measured by the matter-of-fact. I either make it across the country or I don't! But it is also measured by waking daily, facing struggles, and in the midst of these challenges choosing to laugh, choosing to appreciate beauty, and choosing to find the best in others. This version of success can be achieved in Oregon, Montana, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, or places in between. Sure, I want the pedals to turn all the way across the country, but I also find solice, and must remember, that success is not completely determined by where the pedals on a bike stop turning.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Random Rides in Houston

A lot of people have asked me how I train for a trip of this length. The truth is, I am not entirely certain that you can. It is next to impossible to get your body prepared for a 4200 mile journey. There are variables such as wind, weather, mountains, altitude, heat, and cold. Not to mention fighting the mental strain of looking at a seemingly endless road stretching far ahead. As I sit in the comfort of my home, I am aware that I cannot comprehend the physical and mental related challenges. It will have to be a day by day endeavor.

With that said, I'm not fooling myself into thinking I can come home from work, hit the couch, and "take it day by day." As a middle school teacher, I was able to use my spring break to ride and averaged 63 miles per day. Recently, I have averaged about 200 miles per week, with the majority of the miles ridden on the weekend. I have tried, on any number of occasions, to organize a specific "training" plan. I wrote down the miles I logged, watched what I ate, and strapped on the heart rate monitor for a while. But, to me, the whole point of riding a bike is the freedom it offers. Now, I just go ride! If the sky is dark in one direction, I go the other. If a Starbucks sounds good, I make sure to stop along the way. I do, however, make sure I get the time in on the saddle. In so doing, I get to see things along the way.

Sunday, March 28, 2010



It seems like the majority of the planning is complete. Over the last couple of months, I have been grinding away at the details. I set up an ebay account and sold the bike I currently own to purchase the Surly Cross Check, the bike which will take me across the U.S. I got together with Bike Barn, made decisions related to the best bike set up for the trip, researched and purchased panniers, and ordered maps from http://adventurecycles.com. I met with Doug, a rider from Virginia, in Austin a couple of weeks ago. He seemed like a pretty low key guy who will face challenges as they appear. I set up this blog to chronicle the events of the trip and raise money for Cancare. I am happy to say that donations are gradually starting to appear. I have been amazed by the generosity of people. If you are inclined to donate, the link below will take you directly to the Cancare donation page. All of the money will go directly to CanCare and not toward the funding of my trip. You will receive a thank you letter which will also serve as your tax free notification.

My journey across the United States is a personal challenge which, I'm hoping, will serve as a marker indicating a return to health. Part of this journey involves raising funds so the CanCare staff and volunteers can continue doing good for a group of people struggling through a rough time in their lives. Please help!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thanks Bike Barn

Some time ago, after brainstorming fundraising ideas with the CanCare staff, http://www.cancare.org/, I went home and made a list of people I wanted to contact. The challenge was two fold, in that I needed to admit to others that I was riding my bike across the country and I had to overcome a dislike for asking for donations, support....etc. My appreciation for CanCare outweighed these notions, so I decided to step up to the plate, and asked for help.

The first on my list was Neil Bremner, the owner of Bike Barn, http://www.bikebarn.com/. Although we had not spoken recently, I had known him from years past. My pitch was simple. I said, "You were aware I had cancer. There is a nonprofit organization called CanCare that emotionally assists people with this disease. I'm riding 4200 miles across the U.S. to raise money for this organization. I need a bike to withstand the miles and the abuse. I don't have access to a large media audience to say 'go shop at Bike Barn', but I would really appreciate your help." Before I even had the word "help" out of my mouth, he said, "I will be happy to assist you any way I can." How cool is that! The bike was not free, but the assistance was significant. I went to Mark Chamber's Bike Barn store on Westheimer and pieced together a bike, from scratch, with Billy and crew. Their experience with everything from gear ratio to bike set up has been incredible.

I'm still amazed at the generosity! The encouragement I have received for this ride has been beyond my imagination. Thank you Bike Barn! You guys rock!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Going the Distance

I'm still trying to fathom riding 4262 miles. It will probably be beyond my comprehension even when the trip is complete. When I look at my maps, or even the mileage listed below, I must admit my heart skips a beat. After all, it is a journey with many unforeseen variables. I grapple with thoughts of not finishing, yet I embrace the ideal of reaching for something greater than a long distance bike ride. Yes, it is a once in a lifetime experience. However, the experience is driven by the purpose of supporting CanCare as they continue to assist in offering hope to those struggling in a very deep way.

We will leave the morning of June 4th from Astoria, Oregon. We have two months allotted for the trip, but we hope to complete the ride just shy of 55 days. In an effort to defray costs, we will be camping. When weather is too extreme, we will stay in churches or motels along the route. We will eat out the majority of the time, but we will carry a meal or two for emergency use.

Listed below is mileage and towns that we will be traveling though.

TransAmerica Trail
TransAmerica Trail Summary:
Astoria, OR, to Yorktown, VA 12 map set (4,262 mi.)
overview gps buy
1. Astoria, OR, to Coburg, OR (234.5 mi.)
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2. Coburg, OR, to Baker City, OR (340 mi.)
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3. Baker City, OR, to Missoula, MT (419 mi.)
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4. Missoula, MT, to West Yellowstone, MT (332 mi.)
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5. West Yellowstone, MT, to Rawlins, WY (349.5 mi.)
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6. Rawlins, WY, to Pueblo, CO (390.5 mi.)
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7. Pueblo, CO, to Alexander, KS (292.5 mi.)
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8. Alexander, KS, to Girard, KS (333.5 mi.)
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9. Girard, KS, to Murphysboro, IL (411.5 mi.)
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10. Murphysboro, IL, to Berea, KY (410.5 mi.)
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11. Berea, KY, to Christiansburg, VA (381 mi.)
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12. Christiansburg, VA, to Yorktown, VA (367.5 mi.)
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Monday, March 15, 2010

My Experience

With any new endeavor, there are unforeseen challenges. Initially, I thought it would be easy to sit and write about areas of interest and occasionally tie it to the theme of being a cancer survivor. The very nature of the cancer experience, however, is personal, which lends itself to conflict as I drudge up the experience while simultaneously wanting it to go away. While writing my way through the experience, I hope to embrace the fact that cancer is not just a part of my life, but a part of who I am.

September 25, 2008 marked the date in which I was forced to make room for this new reality. I noticed a bump on my side burn, yet it remained small and unnoticed to others. I felt healthy and fit, but after three weeks, and a gradual increase in size, I intuitively new something was wrong. As a result, I went to the doctor. A biopsy was performed, cancer was revealed, and within two weeks I went from experiencing the freedom of my bike to lying on a surgery table within the confines of MDA.

The diagnosis was Merkel Cell carcinoma. It is a rare form of skin cancer with only 1500 cases diagnosed nationwide per year. It is exceptionally aggressive. Left undetected, it attaches to nerves, and then grows at an alarming rate. The Parotid Gland is a salivary duct on the side burn in front of the ear. With surgery, mine was removed. After a brief healing period, chemo and radiation followed. If caught early, the rate of return for this type of cancer reduces significantly one year following treatment. Fortunately, mine was caught early.

After follow up testing, I received word that I currently show no signs of cancer. After celebrating with family, I hopped on my bike and rode with an emotional freedom only known before September 25th. I now will move forward hoping to do the best I can with the blessing of a new perspective.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

There is Value in the Slow Lane

Initially, when asked why I wanted to ride across the United States, I would just start talking and hope something smart came out. In reality, I was speaking without having yet established true value.

I have learned that in the process of seeking what is of value, a person must first establish what, to them, is of no value. This process has remained true in my riding life. Despite much effort, I cannot ride a bike fast. I have literally been in the middle of a race and wondered why I am not going faster. With every corner or climb, I would transfer every ounce of my being into those pedals, and the only return was a pulsating desire for what would never be. So I quit! I changed lanes, and discovered value from the slow side of the road.

Although I express appreciation for those with the ability to ride fast, I no longer have envy. There is a cost to the pursuit of a podium and it is in this pursuit that value is often compromised. Looking up at a finish and down at a time is nothing more than an indication of an end. It is with this awareness that I value riding in the slow lane and observing that which is yet to be discovered. It is the shifting of gears, the effort of the climb, and cresting to the morning sun. It is the effort free speed of descending while riding toward an afternoon with wandering thoughts. In short, it is riding while knowing I am not rapidly finishing, but having awareness that the moment is continually there.

So when people ask me why I'm riding a bike this distance, my response might still be too long. The partial reply, however, is that I find value in watching moments unfold as I slowly pedal along.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Beginning

I have wanted to turn the pedals of a bike across the United States for some time. My journey through cancer is intertwined with this effort. This is how it began:
The Trans American trail is a back road bike route extending 4200 miles from Astoria, Oregon to Virginia. While not teaching over the summer, I worked at Bike Barn, a local bike shop, and became familiar with the route. But, like any trip involving two months, real life often speaks a little louder and the trip becomes secondary to other responsibilities. At that time, this was the case.
After the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, I discovered a need to confront life with a deeper resolve and a heightened sense of urgency. As my cycling fitness increased, I began to seriously entertain the idea of a trip that would serve as a representation of these qualities.
After discussing the trip as a fundraising effort with the CanCare staff, I began to see the opportunity to do something good. With this incentive, I researched the trip and discovered a doctor in Virginia, by the name of Doug Garner, who was riding in honor of a friend who passed away from cancer. We combined efforts, and now have a total of 5 people making the journey. With the theme of cancer awareness in mind, we will take our shared belief across the country.
For those interested in following our journey, you can do so at http://ridingthroughlife-alex.blogspot.com. It is a cancer focused site that chronicles an emotional and physical journey back to a life as a survivor. If anyone feels compelled to tell their story, or to offer something learned, I welcome the exchange on the blog.
For those interested in contributing, there is a paypal account soon available. All money will go directly to http://www.cancare.org/. No funds will go to my efforts.
Finally, I want to bring awareness to the staff and volunteers at CanCare who wake daily and seek to comfort those going through the physical and emotional turmoil of a nasty disease. I have found that there is a collective reverence and appreciation for life among cancer survivors. This trip is my way of reestablishing hope and purpose and fully embracing life as a survivor.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's who I am

I have thought for some time how I wanted to start this blog. The only thing I knew for certain was that I didn't want it to be solely about me. I didn't want to babble on about how I love to ride my bike, or how I love the solitude of trail running with my dog. There is no doubt I love these activities, but in and of themselves there is not the level of significance that I am looking for.
Just recently, I realized that I have been focusing on my interest in running and riding in an effort to escape who I really am. I am a cancer survivor. After Sept. 25th. 2008, my reality, my very perception of who I am changed. I struggle to regain that perception.
This blog is about my journey as a cancer survivor. It is a journey I hope to chronicle as I run and ride my way through a life full of challenge, hardship, beauty, and friendship.