DailyAfirmation (dailyafirmation) wrote,

Dancing and a trip report...

Robert and I had dinner at Hibernian's, which was awesome. We had that killer artichoke and spinach dip, and split the "large" order of fish and chips. Yum.

Robert bought me a DVD Video of one of Barbra's concerts, and we watched about half of it, up until Mike Myers stands up in the audience, as Linda Richman, and banters with Barbra. Hysterical. We both love him, her, and her (Mike, Linda, and Barbra, respectively).

Dancing was a blast tonight. We had a good number of dancers, and the crowd was quite festive.

My friend's son, whose name is Christopher Allen (and you'll see him mentioned a couple of times in these updates if you read them), is making a bicycle trip across the U.S. this summer. They left San Francisco on July 13th and plan to finish in Norfolk, Virginia on or around August 15th.

They started with a group of about 8-10, and picked up a couple of bikers along the way. I believe most of them are "kids" (summer between high school and college types) with a couple of chaperones along.

Though they have a basic "trail" to follow, this trip is one such that they ride into a town when it gets dark, and start looking for a place to eat and sleep. They are carrying their provisions, including their tents, on their bikes with them.

Having done the AIDS Ride in June of 2003, and feeling very unworthy with all the "challenges" I thought that ride brought me, I find this ride incredibly fascinating and inspiring.

On Monday June 20th, the group finds themselves in the midst of 8000-feet climbs and 95-degree heat...

From: Brian Burnham
To: dvdd03@aol.com ; khlong99@yahoo.com ; ncallens@earthlink.net ; wardjl@email.unc.edu
Sent: Monday, June 20, 2005 9:24 PM
Subject: ahhh....bike trips (Update 1)

Nothing really reminds me how great a long distance bike trip is like.....another long distance bike trip.

After all the preparation and planning, we finally found ourselves alone, in the airport, and getting on a plane. Having a one way ticket with bike in tote made it feel really real.

We kicked the trip off properly in San Francisco with a trip to the In and Out burger. After that, we hit the bay at the golden gate and headed east. The first few days were as tough as expected. After we got off the water, the cali heat really weighed heavily upon us, and we would cook in the 95 degree heat if we didn't make camp before 3 in the afternoon.

But we pressed on through, and before we knew it we were in the midst of a 8000 ft climb, and were getting snowed on in the high sierras. Again, we pressed on, and we dropped all the elevation and rode right into the desert.

We've had all the classic bike trip experiences so far. Towns people go out of their way to help us out. They drive us to grocery stores when we're huddled under pavilions in the rain. Fire stations open the yards for tenting. Fallon NV let us swim for free, and the town had a huge picnic where we gorged for hours.

Its amazing that the bikes are still rolling. We've had countless flats, racks have broken, flats abound, and things need to be tweaked constantly. But we carry enough spare parts to build another bike, and everyone is quickly becoming master mechanics, and its a good thing, because we just rolled into a new world.

We rolled out of town today with 2+ gallons of water each, and no supply opportunities until we reached our evening destination. The desert is so vast, bleached and hot, that it feels like another planet. Its an amazing experience to be riding a bike across the lonliest road in America.

Since there are no trees, we all huddled in the shade of a random phone booth for lunch. We pulled into a actual oasis early and are spending the afternoon here. There is a tree for shade, and the one building town has diner, market, motel, bathroom, camping, picnic tables, horseshoes etc. It is a biker paradise. As the afternoon pushes on, the temperature climbs near 100 and the wind blasts at 40 miles per hour. To stay out of the heat, we'll be on the road by 5am tomorrow, and hopefully at our next destination before noon.

The crew is doing great. They started very strong, and I was only able to keep up by relying on some residual cross country biking experience. Everyone seemed to push pretty hard, and I wondered if they would too quickly burn themselves out, or bike me into the earth. The latter happened. With youth on their side, a few thousand calories for dinner, and a couple hours on the ground leaves everyone feeling fully refreshed and ready to roll, and leaves me feeling tired, sore and worn out.

This has been the most amazing trip so far, and we can't wait to see the remainder of the country. Pictures will help fill in all that I have left out.

Max, I expect to see you in a couple weeks, shoulder injury or not. Lucas, July 4th bring it on. Leon and Bri, the desert is cool, but pack the bikes for Kansas.

We're bikin it, we're likin it.


Thursday, June 23rd brings our hardy boys facing steady 30-40 MPH head winds, but rewarded with a swimming pool later in the day...

From: Brian Burnham
To: dvdd03@aol.com ; khlong99@yahoo.com ; ncallens@earthlink.net ; wardjl@email.unc.edu
Cc: g_mu@hotmail.com
Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2005 8:09 PM
Subject: challenges (Update 2)

As far as adventures go, it's nice to have one challenge at a time, maybe two. Not the case in the Nevada desert. Looking at the maps, we could see that we would be climbing 1000+ foot passes multiple times a day. We could also see that it was 65-85 miles between water sources, which we could plan for.

As we set out on these long days, it all starts well, and then around 9:30 the winds pick up. With nothing to stop them in the desert, they seem to gain momentum before they slam into our bikes, equiped to act like sails. When we climbed into the town of Austin, they had recently recorded winds at 60mph. On the plains it was a steady 30-40mph, many times right in our faces. They are so strong that many times we would stop biking, just stand there, and let the wind blast us.

The one joy in going up hill, is knowing that you have a really big and fast downhill awaiting you. However, with the winds the way they are, the downhills consist of staying in your low year and cranking hard to go 5 mph down a 6% grade. Oh, and its really hot with no shade.

On a more positive and less wind related note, evey town has had a swimming pool, where we can wash away the struggles of the day, as well as a bunch of sand and road grit.

We're taking the day off tomorrow, so for the first time in a few days, we won't be getting up at 4:15am, although I might wake everyone up then just to torment them. Its also probably been a while since these guys consistently went to bed at 8pm, while the sun was still in the sky. But battling winds and hills for hours on end seems to get everyone all tuckered out.

Well, off to sleep in the town park, and hopefully not get drenched by the sprinklers.


This Tuesday, July 5th, update talks about being a "captive audience" in the "officially worst town ever"...

From: Brian Burnham
To: danwarlick@yahoo.com ; dvdd03@aol.com ; khlong99@yahoo.com ; LLONG319@aol.com ; ncallens@earthlink.net ; srape@chccs.k12.nc.us ; wardjl@email.unc.edu
Sent: Tuesday, July 05, 2005 6:02 PM
Subject: the middle of nowhere to nowhere (Update 3)

Location: Dolores CO - day 23 - mile 1,250

So the last comptuer I saw was a while ago, but then again the last grocery store I saw was a while ago.

We continued our way through Nevada, and ended up battling 7 straight days of head winds in the 35 mph range, sometimes faster. Our spirits and legs were so broken that only an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet and salad bar could mend us enough to get us back on the road. Chris allen ate one and a half pizzas.

We pulled into the town of Baker Nevada, and it was officially the worst town I've ever been in. The moment we stepped into the diner, the managaer starting complaining at us, so we turned around and left, deteremined to take our business elsewhere. As it turns out, there was no elsewhere. We spent the day hiding in the shadow of a brick wall out of the wind in the sun. We awoke at 3:30 am, and rode out of nevada into Utah. The roads instantly got smooth, the wind stopped, and a huge lake with snow covered mountains opened up next to us. Utah held promise

Utah turned out to be exceedingly challenging as well. Each day brought multi thousand foot climbs through probably the best scenery in the country. We bike by Zion National, Red Canyon National, Escalante National, Capitol Reef National, Grand Staircase National, Glenn Canyon National, and Natural Bridges National. Lots of National parks in the last few days obviously.

Utah was actually more remote than Nevada. We had days between stores, and up to 120 miles between water. A number of times, we would bike to a random spot on the road, and pull our bikes off into the dessert sage, set up camp in the dry sand, and continue onward the next day. We did develop a sign system that read 'will buy soda' and used it near some of the national parks with some amazing success and lots of ice cold drinks.

We've met some interesting characters along the way. One burned out hippie stoner tried to charge us $63 to camp on some gravel, and then had us do an hour's work each in his hippie commune store. The next person we met was a motel owner that insisted that it was too hot for us to be biking, so he gave us a free air conditioned room with the wonderful luxury of showers.

Many more stories to tell, but limited time. We got snowed on really hard at 10,000 ft the other day. There is a new speed record which is....for parental well being and ability to sleep, I'll withhold the record and its owner until a later date.

Had lunch with Max Schoenberger, a 2003 rider, today. He almost ran me over with his motorcycle, and we had lunch in the tiny town of Lewis. I guess you never know where you'll meet up with old friends.

I'm off to try and fix Fuzzy's crippled bike, and then bike over the rockies.

We're bikin it


In this Thursday, July 14th, update we learn that this "sketchy-looking" group is sometimes hassled by the police! Who'd a thunk?...

From: Brian Burnham
To: danwarlick@yahoo.com ; dvdd03@aol.com ; khlong99@yahoo.com ; LLONG319@aol.com ; ncallens@earthlink.net ; srape@chccs.k12.nc.us ; wardjl@email.unc.edu
Sent: Thursday, July 14, 2005 3:57 PM
Subject: great plains (Update 4)

So, the big misconception is that the 'great plains' were named by pioneers and explorers. When actually, they were named by the first east bound cross country cyclists. They were originally dubbed the 'thank-god-we're-out-of-the-!@$%ing-mountains' plains, but for childrens text books, we're in the great plains. Its a nice change to not have a multi thousand foot climb everday, even though we did finish up with a huge push to 11,200 feet on the continental divide.

Uh-oh, the library is about to close.

The vast flatness is nice.

The person who has the speed record has not re-broken it, nor will he/she? for a while.

The police still hassle us every once in a while, I guess we look sketchy.

More later when I get to an open library.


Monday, July 18th: "2000 miles down, a few more to go," music on the iPod, and "locals who live real lives"...

From: Brian Burnham
To: danwarlick@yahoo.com ; dvdd03@aol.com ; khlong99@yahoo.com ; LLONG319@aol.com ; ncallens@earthlink.net ; srape@chccs.k12.nc.us ; wardjl@email.unc.edu
Sent: Monday, July 18, 2005 12:29 PM
Subject: Got Roy? (Update 5)

We were warned by countless people that kansas would be infinitely boring. Not so. Its hard to describe how good the state can be.

Just a week ago, we were in Colorado, with so many RV's you could barely see the horizon. While stopped at a gas station, two plump RVers would plop themselves out on the asphalt. One of them would dislodge one of our pannier bags from his wheel well. He got it there when he buzzed one of us too closely. The horn would be stuck in the on position, from being pressed firmly most of the day in wont of more road space. The RVers companion would then empty the sewage tank on Will (its the only explanation for how he is so dirty). But the days of RV's are over, and we're into the plains.

The towns and farms and roads are so perfect, I can picture James Earl Jones stepping out of his narration in Field of Dreams to describe the first days in Kansas. He would talk about small towns of no more than 500 people, they've seen bikers before, so they know what to expect. There are quant town parks to stay in free of hassle. Each one has a pool that gladly welcomes bikers to wash of the day's road grime. High school gyms open their doors, and Kansas ballers stack their skills against the chapel hill boys. It hasn't gone well for them yet. (They're angry about us having Roy also.) Other nights see us sitting in the grand stands as the sun sets behind the grain silo, enjoying a funnel cake, and watching the rodeo. Diners are good and cheap, laundry is easy to find, and the people are so nice its almost scary. Rather than being stuck in tourist towns, these locals live real lives, in real towns, everyone says hello, and will sit down and talk to you where ever you are. Bikers will come.

The other morning was one of the better mornings out. It does get extremely hot, and the cross wind gusts at 25mph. So to beat that we get us before dawn. We roll out of bed with the stars still in the sky, and as the sky is turning pink we get cruising out of town. Navigation is easy. You can go to where you came from, or ride to where you're going, not many other choices. The morning is cool enough to where you may want to wear sleeves, but not quite. Music on the iPod is great, and listening to a some Big Pretty and the Red Rockets or Jack Johnson puts you in a great state of mind for the day. The road stretches due east, and the sun rises at the tip of the road, and you feel you could almost get to it if you rode fast enough. Before the winds kick up, you can ride at 18-20 mph, which is much better than trudging along at 8 mph in the winds. It allows us to get to towns before 1pm and still cover 70 miles.

Yesterday did put the hurting on us though. We did 94 miles, and got stuck biking in the heat of 100 degrees for a few hours. But we made alot of progress towards the Atlantic so it was worth it.

Now that we're on the trans american bike path, we see alot more bikers. Many of them are just out of college. (I wish they would stop wasting their education and get a real job.) They look at the age of our crew and remark what a great idea it is to come out here at 16 or 17. They wonder aloud how their college careers or paths would have been different if they had seen the country in this fashion before going off to school. We run into a number of scout troops out here as well. It takes them a minute to believe that we are actually troop 39 out all the way from Chapel Hill NC. Most of their trips are small weekend excursions. They had not even considered doing anything like this, or even imagined that it was possible. All they need though is a summer time, a desire to travel, and a few screws loose upstairs doesn't hurt. I imagine we've planted the seed with a number of people, and hopefully they will realize the possiblity, and follow in our footsteps.

Its raining right now, so I am delaying the inevitable. Only a few more days of Kansas, and then we'll be in the Ozarks. 2000 miles down, a few more to go.

"Free your mind, see what you can find, when you leave it all behind, just free your mind"


Friday, July 22nd, brings 40 pies, 110-degree "scorchers" and "heat advisories for 5 straight days," and for the first time in trip memory: tail winds!

From: Brian Burnham
To: danwarlick@yahoo.com ; dvdd03@aol.com ; khlong99@yahoo.com ; LLONG319@aol.com ; ncallens@earthlink.net ; srape@chccs.k12.nc.us ; wardjl@email.unc.edu
Sent: Friday, July 22, 2005 1:28 PM
Subject: Keep on Keepin on (Update 6)

I think if you missed where we ate lunch today, you would miss the experience of the Trans American Bike Way. A little diner called Cooky's that comes with recommendatation from hundreds of mile around, and is the only real place to eat in a small town of 800. When you walk in, there are 40 pies sitting on the counter in front of you. I couldn't even name 40 pies, but she makes them. I ordered a small lunch, and our table of 3 had 9 pieces. You just have to sample as many as you can so that you don't miss out. Need I say they were the best tasting items of the trip.

The beautiful majestic days of Kansas have faded away into 110 degree scorchers. There has been a heat advisory for 5 straight days. The temp is 100 straight up with an index of over 110. Getting up and on the road at 5 am works pretty well, but its hard to get enough sleep since you sweat uncontrolably in your tent for the first hour of the night.

It happened today for the first time in trip memory. We had a tail wind. We've had an everything-else wind on the trip, but no tail winds in 40 days. What are the odds. But we rolled along rolling Missouri roads at 20+ mph. A very welcome change. And I have 30 miles in the same direction this afternoon. What a treat.

Lucas McLawhorn, a teacher at McDougle Middle School, and an old friend from the 2003 ride is along with us now. That means that since today is my birthday, I've of course been hit with a bucket of water, and more to come. He also bought me a piece of pie, so thats good. For all of those who know lucas, this trip is now more out of control than before.

Everyone is in amazing shape now, its ridiculous. When we are in a draft line, I can no longer keep up. I see the younger group in my mirror, and they ride me down, and off onto the horizon in moments. When I do manage to catch up, we approach a little rolling hill, younger fingers click down a few gears, the pace quickens to 20 or so, and I fall behind. The people behind me pass, making old-person comments, asking about my trick knee. I look back to see if I'm dragging a concrete block or something, and my worst fears are confirmed. I'm old, and they're in better shape. Oh well, I'll probably still make it.

We have looked at dates and maps a bit more, and have decided that we will be arriving in
Damascus on August 7th in the afternoon, and will be taking a day off there on August 8th. Hope to see some people there.

We're in Golden City, Missouri. 2250 miles in. The Ozarks start in a day or two, and will be pretty tough


Monday, July 25th... oh, this is bad, brutal stuff!

From: Brian Burnham
To: ameliawalker@yahoo.com ; danwarlick@yahoo.com ; dvdd03@aol.com ; khlong99@yahoo.com ; LLONG319@aol.com ; ncallens@earthlink.net ; srape@chccs.k12.nc.us ; wardjl@email.unc.edu
Sent: Monday, July 25, 2005 3:50 PM
Subject: the big inning (Update 7)

Through a number of years in middle school baseball now, I've learned quite a few things. But one of the top keys to winning is: avoid the big inning. If the other team scores 8 runs in one inning, and 2 over the remainder of the game, you're probably going to lose. There's no way around it. Change pitchers, pick off, shuffle fielders, but don't let them score alot. That seems to apply out here as well.

I hate to think of it as us versus the country, but sometimes that's just the way it is. So if we can keep the country from scoring too much, we should win. We'll let them score with a big hill, or a hard rain, or a hot day; but the other day, they definitely batted through the order a number of times on us.

We pulled onto a road during a day that was 107 degrees before the heat index was added in, and they had just put down some fresh oil and loose gravel on our route, 'Missouri Country Road A.' At first it was just really hot and smelled bad. But about three miles in, the oil and gravel was starting to cake onto the tires, chains and deraileurs. We whined about it for a minute, but kept onward. Then the flats started. The oil would hold the gravel on our tire until it forced its way through, and popped the tube. Five people got flats on the spot. We pulled off the road onto a gravel road and started to clean our bikes. An hour later, we were on the road again. Then my tire exploded.

We stopped in the shade of a front yard, not knowing who lived there. Greg verbally hoped they were nice, and wanted to make us lemonade, but I wanted to fix my tire. As I was finishing the patch, and sweet white haired lady walked out, wondering why we were riding on a gravel road. She then remarked that; 'its awefully hot out here. I bet you guys would love some nice cold lemonade.' And sure enough, it was unanimous, we all wanted lemonade. We were on the road again, happy and refreshed....then my tire exploded again, and greg got two flats, and chris allen got 2 also. I had to wrap my tire in balance bar wrappers and med tape so that I could make it to town that night.

The sun set way before Greg and I made it in, so we had to ride for an hour in the complete dark. It was not fun. Everything was closed when we got to town, and we feltthat we were at the low point in the trip. We met a guy shooting hoops at the court at the city park who remarked that we looked pretty tired and hungry. He was right. Then he offered us a pizza, and said he owned the shop next door, and would open it up and give us some food. When we went in, he asked if being from NC we liked sweet tea, again a unanimous yes, so he put on a kettle, and made a fresh batch.

We had completely destroyed seven tires, and popped a total of 15 tubes in the day's excitement, so we were forced into a day off. We were trying to figure a way to a bike shop 40 miles off route in Springfield, and the pizza guy just suggested that we take his car. So at least the most epically bad day ended well, and after a day of bike maintanence we are back on the road.

So MO racked up a big score on us in one day, but we are whiddling away.

Yesterday was over 100 with the index at 115, so we got up at 5 am and rode to an early lunch, where we chilled at a subway until 5pm. I bet they were pretty tired of us at that point. Afterewards we finished up the remainder of our day at sunset. We're repeating that strategy again today, except we tossed a rope swing into a huge river in there earlier this morning.

There is a crazy opposite of people here in Missouri. 95% of the people that we meet are so amazingly nice that its shocking. They go way out of there way, and are always asking if we need help, offering water, AC, and everything else that we could imagine. Then there are the 5% that are such hard core rednecks I can't believe it. The trailer is so delapadated it should be condemned, but there pick up is jacked up and loud. Racism abounds, as do gun racks, the NRA, confederate flags and rampant GW support, and scare us to keep biking to the salvation of Kentucky....wait.....I mean rural VA.....wait, it may be Chapel Hill before I'm back in the bubble of a univeristy town.

Supposed to be a high of 79 on Wednesday. I hope I don't freeze to death.

We're bikin it, and we're cookin in it.


You can view some pictures of the group and the trip in progress!

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