Day 20 - June 30th, 2008 - Park City, UT- 0 miles

We had our second day off of the trip today but it was still filled with a lot of stuff.  The 9 a.m. wake up was amazing.  We were having lunch at the park today and were going to have a KOB show for a camp.  About 10 of us volunteered to do a small arrival for the kids so we racked up to a parking lot just outside of the park and rode in.  After lunch we all made a bike shop run and a bunch of the guys had minor adjustments made to their bikes.

I hung out around the condo catching up on pictures and making panoramas with a bunch of the pictures I took until we went to dinner at Camp Konstapolus.  They were located back in Salt Lake along the creek we rode past yesterday.  We showed up and it seemed like they weren’t expecting us but Dave said that is how it was last year too.  We had a little pasta for dinner and toured the camp.  Apparently Build America, another Push America program is coming here in a couple weeks to offer their services.  All in all today was pretty nice, tomorrow we have a century ride and then get to go boating which I’m really excited about.

Day 19 - June 29th, 2008 - Park City, UT- 14 miles


Talk about a perfect day… we started off with a beautiful scenic ride uphill that was only 14 miles long until we were racked because we needed to get on the interstate.  Some of the houses on the way were amazing.  A lot were designed by architects and we probably worth a couple million.  There was a stream that we road next to for part the way and some of the houses actually had patios over the creek a la Falling Water.  There were a lot of cyclists along the way as this is apparently a big street to ride on.  After we got to Park City we couldn’t get into our lodging until 4 so we had to stay in our cycling uniform all until then.  We had lunch to ourselves which was awesome.  After trying to go to Panda Express only to find out it didn’t open until 12, I went to Taco Bell…sooooo good.  After lunch we headed to the Olympic Park for a few hours to hang out.  This was simply amazing.  We got to watch some of the Olympic athletes training for ski jumps in a pool and the flip/rotations they were doing were stunning.  I could have sat there all day and watched them.  Apparently you can pay around $170 to get to use the same jumps and pools and get coached for a few hours which would totally be worth it.  6 of the guys spent $60 to go down the bobsled track.  I really wanted to do it but decided against spending $60 on it.  You can also do it in the winter for $200 and it only lasts a minute.  Everyone who did it said it was worth every dollar/second of fun.  I also got to tour the museum and see how the medals are made, see sledge ice hockey which is for the Paralympics and would be awesome to try.  You sit down on a sled, and have to mini hockey sticks with basically a fat figure skating toe pick on the end of the stick which you use for propulsion.  Simply amazing. 

We spent about 45 minutes at the Polo outlet for some of the guys to frat it up and after heading to lodging for quick showers, we go to the National Ability Center for dinner.  After some fabulous hamburgers and brats, we took a tour of their facilities.  They have a ropes course, swimming classes, ski program, therapeutic horseback riding program, etc.  The horseback program was really cool; they have an outdoor and indoor ring and a pretty nice barn.  Apparently a horses movement is the closest to a humans and they had a girl who came in with a muscular atrophy disability and couldn’t walk…did the horseback riding program, and left with the ability to walk.  It sounds impossible but amazing.  They also have an indoor climbing wall to remind the workers of what goes on at the center, so there is all sorts of noise and activity inside.  We hit our second mail drop which was awesome, got some more birthday cards and support cards. Thanks mom, Aunt Carol, Uncle Frank, Aunt Laurie, Kari, Katie, Kelli, Emily, and especially Brynn. 

Now it was time to head out for the night.  We had to run through a field of bushes to catch the last bus to downtown and our first bar was The Spur where we met up with one of the workers at the NAC.  The band there was amazing.  The guitarists’ hands were so fast they just jumped from place to place finger picking the whole time.  We then headed across the street to the other bar where everyone else was at and had an awesome drink special.  After some more drinks we headed back to lodging.  I can’t wait for a 9 a.m. wake up tomorrow.  Never thought I would ever say that.

Day 18 - June 28th, 2008 - Salt Lake City, UT- 63 miles


We finally hit suburbia!!!  It’s so nice to see actual houses and the first ones we saw we of the lifestyle of the rich and the famous.  Huge houses, none seemingly designed by an architect, but that had a gorgeous overlook of Lake Utah with snow topped mountains as a back drop.  It was a pretty nice and easy ride, relatively flat with some rolling hills.  We had to rack up for about 7 miles due to construction so it was more like a 56 mile day rather than the 63 mile total distance.  After we got passed the construction we continued riding in little suburban area and then we finally hit city like conditions of riding which are my favorite.  There is just so much to look at, to call out, and to keep you mind off of cycling.  At one of the lights, 4 college aged girls pulled up to us and we challenged them to a drag race, haha.  As we were signaled to the final turn, avoiding the hill directly in front of us, we all had a sigh of relief only to actually make the turn to see a hugely steep hill.  Bobby, who was in our pace line, dropped his chain half way up the hill and walked the rest of it.

We had a quick shower and a quick crew chief lunch before we headed off for our friendship visit at Raging Waters, a local water park.  It has nothing on Sandcastle, but was a lot of fun.  We all got to show off our sweet tan lines which get more and more defined each day we ride and actually had a bunch of people come up to us and ask us if we were a baseball team or something because everyone saw these guys with these tan lines running around the water park.

A bunch of the guys are going out in downtown Salt lake tonight since we have a late wake up at 7 a.m. but I decided at the last minute to stay in.  I am way too tired after being outside all day and decided to catch up on a few things.  Plus tomorrow, even though it is only a 30-40 mile day, has a lot of climbing and I’d like to be well rested.  We have a day off after tomorrow in Park City which will be nice and some mail drops which I’m looking forward to

Day 17 - June 27th, 2008 - Payson, UT- 78 miles


Well today’s ride was an easier 80 mile day, and I say that lightly; rolling hills and a nice 10 mile downhill towards the end.  During the ride we passed a lot of military trucks including a couple carrying M1A1 Abrahms tanks and our goal was to try and get as many of them to honk at us.  Also along the way, being as bored as we were, we successfully completed 99 bottles of beer on the wall which only took about 5 miles to do. 

We arrived in Payson, UT and stayed at a Senior Citizens community in their banquet hall.  As soon as I set up my air mattress, I passed out for an hour or so.  It is so easy to sleep so well on the trip because you are so exhausted by the end of most days.  While we didn’t have a friendship visit today, we did have a sponsored dinner at the Saturn of Oren.  Saturn used to be a sponsor of JOH years ago, but when we lost that sponsorship, some dealerships continued to support us.  We have a bunch of pizza and got to tour the dealership.  The Saturn Sky is a pretty sweet car and the one that had a turbo and was chipped was putting out 300 hp out of a 1.8 liter 4 cylinder engine;  pretty impressive if you ask me. 

After a quick Walmart run, we got back to lodging and headed out for Pace’s goodbye.  We went to a local bar and apparently you have to be a member to get in or have one sign you in as a guest.  That’s not the only weird Utah drinking law; they also only serve 3.2 % alcoholic beer.  We had a lady sign us in and had people staring at us which we get a lot.  Everyone bought Pace drinks and we Pace sung Ice Ice Baby which he is kind of known for.  A couple of us got up and sang Don’t Stop Believing and C.J. and Tripp, the Tennessee guys, sang Rocky Top.  We had to be in by curfew and the night ended before midnight.  Tomorrow should be pretty easy. I need a few easier days before we hit the Rockies.

Day 16 - June 26th, 2008 - Delta, UT- 97 miles

So close yet so far away…  96.78 miles total on the day… officially, not a century ride.  My ankle held up pretty well, it was sore for the whole day but no sharp pains.  I was completely exhausted at the end and could have fallen asleep at 5 p.m.  We finally got out of Nevada though…good riddance.  Everyone was pretty much over Nevada and highway 50 even though we were on highway 50 all day today.  I didn’t see a single building from the time we crossed the border to the time we got into Delta, Ut – approx. 85 miles.  Not only that but there were stretches of road that were straight for 10 + miles that had nothing but desert around them, and often time you wouldn’t see a single car outside of crew vans for 5-10 miles at a time.  The fact that it was so boring makes it such a difficult ride.  The passes weren’t bad, a little difficult because miss 2 ½ days means I’m just that more out of shape from the rest of the guys, plus we had a cross wind/ head wind for the first 60 some miles.  We finally got a tailwind around mile 65 which was amazing.  Being able to cruise at 25+ miles on flats effortlessly is a lot of fun.

We arrived in Delta, Ut which is a bigger town then we’ve seen the past few days but it is still small.  We had an amazing dinner put on by the local Lions club.  It had to be some of the best pork and gravy I’ve ever had, sorry mom.  I couldn’t get enough of it.  After we did a KOB performance with the park as the background, we headed back to lodging.  We tried to go see the new movie Wall-e but couldn’t convince the movie manager to let us see it a day early.  We then stopped at a grocery store where 8 of us were talking to one of the girls that worked there and of course C.J. was being hilarious trying to pick her up. 

We heard that tomorrow’s ride is a pretty easy 80 mile ride so it should be a good one.  I can’t wait to get out of the desert.

Day 15 - June 25th, 2008 - Baker, NV- 62 miles

Well today was a great day.  First off I made it all 62 miles today.  It felt great being back on the bike and went pretty well for most of the trip.  We had a killer head wind for most of the first half of the ride.  Around mile 40, shortly after a crew stop, I got a couple sharp pains in my ankle, and thought about racking at the next crew stop, but the pains went away and I decided to keep going.  My ankle was sore for most of the ride but I didn’t wrap it today which I think may have actually of made it worse and stretched it out at every crew stop.  The second summit of the day took us a while to get up since Adam joined our pace line after Mike, who he was riding with, broke a spoke that lodged into his cassette. Adam is one of the heavier guys on the team and didn’t train that much and often has trouble on the hills.  We had to stop a lot and kept a low cadence for him which probably helped my ankle out too. 

We arrived at the town of Baker, Nv on the border of Nevada and Utah it is truly the smallest town we have been to and had about 50 people in the town.  Before heading to dinner we took a tour of Lehman Cave which was spectacular.  I think they said they formed close to 500,000 years ago and are still an active cave which means the stalactites and stalagmites are still forming.  It was crazy all the formations in there and really makes me want to go see more caves. 

We had dinner from a couple people who follow the religion of The School of Natural Order.  It is rumored that Baker was last on a list of cities to be attacked in a nuclear war and that is why they set up their commune here.  The School of Natural Order is basically a combination of all the major religions and follows the teachings that, as they put it, overlap from the religions and keep out the cultural aspects of those religions.  It was pretty cool how they described it.  I met a lady named Susan, who was from Mt. Lebanon and graduated high school in 1966.  She was a teacher who found the School of Natural Order from a friend when she was out in San Francisco.  I also met the uncle of Brett Keisel of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  It’s a pretty small world when you can go to the smallest little town and find people you have connections to, not matter how stretched they are.  They also told us a little more about some of the protests they have been having.  Las Vegas wants to put a 300 mile pipeline for their water needs but a lot of environmental factors play into it for the areas up here.  Of course politics is involved too but it was interesting to hear about it.  Apparently a lot of the casinos and developers are trying to get this project moving and they have a lot of influence on all the politics.

After dinner, we drove up one of the mountains that overlooked The Great Basin.  It was an amazing view.  We had a circle up and talked about Pace for a little bit.  Pace, who is definitely one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met and sort of the heart of the team, is leaving JOH in a few day to take care of personal issues at home.  A couple people got pretty emotional at the top of the mountain and even though we have only known each other for a few weeks we have become very close already.  It makes me very proud to be a Pi Kapp when I see all these guys, the best of the best of their chapters, and the brotherhood that has formed already.  And to top it all off, just as we broke the meeting, a shooting star streaked across the sky.  Century ride tomorrow…hopefully my ankle can hold up again.

Day 14 - June 24th, 2008 - Ely, NV- 80 miles (0 for me)

I spent this morning riding with the project manager, Dave to Ely, Nv.  Dave runs the whole north team and drives ahead to the next town every day to set up lodging, sponsors, scout bike shops, laundry, post offices, the next day’s ride, etc. Without him, things would be a lot more chaotic.  After spending a couple hours in the doctor’s office where they fit me into their schedule, he came back and told me that I probably tore some of the fibers in my Achilles and to hold off on the ibuprofen because while it keeps the swelling down, it inhibits the healing of soft tissue.  He also told me that I might not be able to ride a full day for a little while because he wants me to stop cycling right when it starts to hurt and not to push through the pain.  It’s good I went to go see the doc because I would have continued to use ibuprofen and cycle through the pain.  After a quick lunch at subway with Dave, we headed over to lodging where the high school’s mascot is the Bobcats.  I’m waiting for bobcat Julia to come visit me in her homeland, haha.

We had an empathy dinner tonight where I was blind. It was really hard and I had to have a care giver take care of me and guide me around to get my food. Other people had CP, Down Syndrome, Mute, etc. It is one way we are able to try and experience what life is like being disabled and how people can learn to work around their disability. After dinner a bunch of the guys played knock out but Dave told me I'm not allowd to play basketball because of my ankle. I'm a little disappointed that i can't play but I understand too. I'll be cycling tomorrow so we will see how the ankle holds up

Day 13 - June 23rd, 2008 - Eureka, NV- 70 miles (0 for me)

Well I racked today on our way to Eureka, Nv.  Being in a crew van is not a lot of fun and quite boring actually.  The fact that I can’t cycle without pain is killing me.  I iced my ankle down a little on the ride and that was about the highlight of my day.  Highway 50 really is the loneliest highway in America.  There was a big hill out of Austin that looked like it was pretty tough to climb but an even more fun downhill.  They guys said it was a horrible day on the bike just because it was so boring and they had a head wind.  After arriving in Eureka, we had lunch at DJ’s diner and came back to an old high school where our lodging was at.  After a little basketball, we headed up to the local community pool to shower and swim.  CJ and Mason spent most of the time talking to the lifeguards while most of the guys spent the time flipping people off rafts, playing pool basketball, and slamming a giant beach ball in people faces. 

Dinner was held by the Eureka Lions Club over at one of the member’s houses and was absolutely delicious.  Home cooked food is always the best.  We ended pretty early for us at 6:45 and a bunch of us were going to walk into town to go to one of the 2 bars.  Eureka is very similar to Austin and their graduating class was 12.  After shooting some pool, a few beers, and some gambling, CJ got a call from one of the lifeguards and me, CJ, Mason, and Che decided to go hang out at a bon fire up in the hills.  It was an awesome time as we had a couple more beers, fired a rifle at a can that we hung in the trees and just passed the time until curfew.  Definitely got to experience how people in Eureka hang out as they said this is pretty much what they do most nights.

Tomorrow I am going to the doctor’s in Ely, Nv to have my ankle checked out.  Hopefully it starts feeling better because I want to start riding again.

Day 12 - June 22nd, 2008 - Austin, NV- 111 miles (40 for me)


So today was going to be probably our longest day on the bike at a scheduled 120 miles and one of the most grueling.  We started off the day riding a double pace line to a stop sign.  Today was the day the North and South teams split, so in front of a couple people taking pictures and photos, North turned right while South turned left.  We continued riding on highway 50 and my ankle at the beginning felt pretty good, sore, but good.  We passed a bunch of salt flats where people had taken stones and written anything they wanted.  We had been told to look out for a Journey of Hope ’07 and to change it to ’08.  We first spotted JOH ’01 which we almost passed and don’t think anyone else saw but it was pretty cool.  We then hit the PKP JOH ’08 one and stopped to take pictures.  Shortly after we hit “Journey of Hope ’96 ’01 ’02 ’03 ’04 ’05 ’06 ’08.  Thinking that the guys in front of us just changed ’07 to ’08 we added ’07 back into the list, but we found out later that that wasn’t true.  After some more riding I saw a VT but didn’t stop to take a picture.  Fallon is apparently where Top Gun takes place and about 20 miles or so into the ride, we passed a bombing area where bunkers were in the hill, but unfortunately they don’t bomb on Sundays.  The ride was so long and boring that we started singing to each other.  I stayed toward the back because of my ankle and the guys back there were just joking around.  Around mile 35 my ankle really started hurting.  I was having sharp pains and shortly after at mile 40 couldn’t take it anymore.  I racked up and spent the next 80 miles in Pace’s van, a.k.a. the Spaceship.  We ended up watching 2 movies in the van while sitting roadside waiting for cyclist to come up and refill with water and food.

We finally made it to Austin, Nv which is a town of about 200. Apparently this year their high school graduated 6 people, 4 guys, and 2 girls.  And one of the ladies who made us dinner teaches grades K-6 all in the same classroom.  The ladies of Phi Sigma Beta, an international service/social sorority made us an amazing thanksgiving type dinner.   It was truly an amazing meal.  After dinner we came back to our lodging in their town hall building which just has one room, and after I put some ice on my ankle, we went out to the local bar.  After playing a few games of shuffleboard, and Matt Mason, the luckiest guy so far on the trip because he won $1,000 while driving the vans to San Fran, won15 dollars on video black jack, we headed back to lodging to call it a night.  C.J., the other guy from Pittsburgh, also hurt his Achilles tendon today and may be racking tomorrow.  So far this trip has been pretty brutal to our bodies.

Day 11 - June 21st, 2008 - Fallon, NV- 52 miles


So today we departed Dayton for Fallon and it was my first day back on my ankle.  I bought an ace bandage yesterday and had Bobby wrap it for me today.  Walking on it while it was wrapped was pretty painful but cycling wasn’t as painful and was actually tolerable as long as I watched it.  The ride today was along highway 50, a.k.a. the loneliest highway in America.  While we could see mountains all around us, we never really reached them and at one point we crested a little hill and saw a straight road that looked like it fell off the side of the earth in 3 miles.  We didn’t actually reach the point we could see until 8 miles later.  Distances are quite distorted out here, Mountains look closer than they actually are, roads seem shorter, etc.  But today’s ride wasn’t a specifically hard one except for that everyone seemed to have problems.  I had my bum ankle that really started to hurt the last 10 miles and my rear cogs came loose and I had to stop at a crew stop and fix them.  Vince broke a spoke and had a flat.  Taylor, who was riding in a different pace line, had 4 flat tires on the day. 

Once I got to lodging I put ice on my ankle immediately and kept that on for about 30 minutes or so and that helped it feel better.  After runs to the car wash and Walmart, we had a friendship visit at the elementary school we were staying at.  After a great pulled pork BBQ dinner a bunch of the guys danced the night away and the others played basketball outside where it was a lot cooler.  Pace rapped Ice Ice Baby and everyone just stopped and watched.  I played basketball outside until my ankle started hurting again and called it quits for the night.  Tomorrow we have to wake up a half an hour earlier and ride 120 miles.  I’m going to try and cycle and hopefully it’ll be alright.  I really hope this isn’t something that in going to linger for a long time.

Day 10 - June 20th, 2008 - Carson City, NV- 0 miles

Our first day off was not really a day off at all.  Although we did get to sleep in until 8 our day was filled with programming, laundry/Walmart/bike shop runs, etc.  I spent most of my morning updating the website with pictures and such.  We drove into Carson City for a lunch buffet at the Carson City Nugget which is a casino.  Unfortunately none of us were allowed to gamble, but after lunch we headed to the children’s museum.  This brought us back to being 5 years old, perfect for me, as there were multiple games to play with for free.  Today was the South team’s day to put on a KOB show and it definitely wasn’t as good as yesterdays.  The kids were much more active yesterday and more responsive.  In addition to KOB, we put on a bike safety class for the kids.  After the shows were done, we went outside and played wheelchair basketball which was an awesome time.  I can’t wait for the next time to play actually.

Our second friendship visit of the day was dinner and a dance party in Reno.  Most everyone was dancing as it was a great time.  I kept away from dancing because my Achilles was still hurting me.  I’m not sure what is wrong with it, but I’m going to try and cycle tomorrow and see how it feels.  I’m actually pretty scared about it because I don’t want to miss any days of cycling or even multiple days.  Even more so I don’t really know what is wrong so that scares me even more. 

Once we got back to lodging we received our first mail drop and I received a bunch of birthday cards and letters.  Thanks Aunt Carol and Di.  I also was surprised when I received a letter from UPC Pittsburgh.  We go there when we ride through and the kids sent a handful of the guys letters so we now have pen pals which is pretty awesome.  I finished off tonight by finishing updating my website and talking to Brynn for a while.  I still can’t believe I am actually cycling across the country and at the same time August 16th seems so far away.  But I know once it comes, I’m going to look back and wonder where it all went.

Day 9 - June 19th, 2008 - Carson City, NV- 48 miles


Good bye California, Hello Nevada.  Today was such an easy ride which is exactly what was needed after yesterday.  Most of it was downhill with a back drop of the Sierra Nevadas.  Not too much about the ride to say.  I strained my Achilles about a half a mile before we stopped at the Boys and Girls club.  We had stopped at a stop light and once it turned green and I started pedaling, something happened.  I’m not sure what it is but it hurts. Luckily we have a much needed day off tomorrow and I can let it rest because we have our longest ride of the trip at 120 miles in 2 days.  The Boys and Girls club was a lot of fun.  The north team put on its first KOB show that the kids loved and after lunch we got to hang out and play around with all the kids.  I spent the time playing knock out on the basketball court while other guys played kickball, soccer, tetherball, four square, painted, etc.  One of the guys said “I have fallen in love with four square all over again.”

Day 8 - June 18th, 2008 - Markleeville, CA - 82 miles


Wooohooo.  I completed Kirkwood.  Talk about a tough ride.  On only the 4th day of cycling we rode 82 miles.  That might sound like a lot, but when I tell you the first 60 were all up hill and that we started at an elevation of 1200 ft. and peaked at 8,565 it just sounds that more impressive.  It was my goal, and most of the guys’ goal to just finish and not get racked.  We woke up early and had an amazing scramble eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage, fruit breakfast at Mel’s Diner put on by the Kiwanis Club.  We then started cycling at about 8 in the morning and were unsure if Kirkwood would live up to the hype.  It sure did.  Slow steady climbs all the way.  It would have been a boring ride except the scenery was simply amazing.  The Sierra Nevada’s are so beautiful.  I set my bike computer so that I didn’t look at distance or speed but in elevation.  Today was measured in miles, miles in elevation.  We had lunch overlooking a great big valley that I wanted to send a picture message to my dad, mom, and Brynn, saying this is my view for lunch, but we didn’t have service at that elevation.  The hardest miles were at the last 5 or so into lodging.   We flew down approximately 15 miles of downhill at the end which made the ride so worth it.  One of the Pi Alphas that does a ride a long every year with the team says he does it for that downhill part. I reached a speed of 55 miles per hours while the top guy on the team reached 57.  I am so happy to have completed it; it is such an accomplishment for me.  It feels so good, but I am completely exhausted and everyone is calling it an early night.

Day 7 - June 17th, 2008 - Sacramento, CA - 48 miles


My legs are tiiiiired.  It hurts to get up, it hurts to sit down, it hurts to walk the first couple steps after I stand up.  Today was supposed to be an easy day…and it was for the most part.  But easy when your legs hurt is not always easy.  Today was mostly flat until about 35 miles into our 48 mile ride.  Then we climbed roughly 1500 feet.  It is sort of a prelude to tomorrow where we have 14 hours to go 85 miles because it is all uphill. Not too much to say about today’s ride, It was pretty boring.  The friendship visit was awesome as always.  We double pace lined our arrival again and the people at ARC were standing out to greet us.  They made signs that we passed on our way in and once we lined up at the center, they all came down our line and shook our hands.  We have been coming here since 1990 and one of the ladies I was talking to told me they look forward to this day all year and that the last week there has been so much excitement.  Lunch was amazing as always and they had a mist that came down under the roof of their porch. A bunch of them bought JOH shirts and they all wanted our signatures. 

After we left there we went to lodging at the local high school.  According to Dave, the project manager, all lodging seems to be at the top of hills…and this one was no exception, we killed the steepest little hill with no water and once we peaked and thought it was over, it kept going up.  We had some down time so people went to Wal-Mart, the bike store, and did laundry, while every who stayed behind either took naps or played basketball which is what I did.  After that we went to dinner at the local Lions club where we have been going for a long time.  They fed us an amazing spaghetti dinner with salad and meatballs.  We then came back to lodging and some of the guys had KOB practice while the rest of us played knock out basketball.  Tomorrow is going to be a hellacious day so it is going to be another early night.

Day 6 - June 16th, 2008 - Sacramento, CA - 68 miles


Well my legs were sore today, which I expected, but they did get pretty stiff, pretty quickly last night.  I signed up for group B today since we did a staggered start which split us into 2 groups…generally the riders feel like they need extra time to cycle will go with group A.  After a fabulous breakfast at the Denny’s connected to the Best Western we stayed at, we started on our way.  Vince was in my pace line today, and even though we wanted to go, our legs didn’t.  We hit a pretty wicked hill early on, certainly the longest hill I have ever climbed and it killed a bunch of the guys.  Every time we said “ok, this has to be the top”, it wasn’t.  Vince and I lost the 2 other guys in our pace line and joined up with Issac who rode with us the rest of the way.  Issac is from New Mexico and doesn’t have any hills to train on so we took him under our wing.  Once we got past the big mountain it was mostly rolling hills and a couple prolonged climbs.  We passed a manmade lake that was so beautiful we stopped 3 or 4 times within a half a mile to take pictures.  The view we had for this stretch was the kind that mountain man John Fratello would love to walk out of the back of his cabin and see.  By now my legs had warmed up and I was able to sustain long climbs so I stayed behind Issac to make sure he was alright.  Around mile 30 or so it started to get flat and we started to cruise.  This was the first time I realized how much drafting helps.  When I was in the back of our 3 man pace line I only had to pedal every so often.  However I would say I also pulled the most today for our pace line so whenever I was in the back it was definitely a good feeling.  We also met a 65 year old husband and wife that were cycling across the country by themselves.  They carried all their bags on their bikes so they weighed like 60+ pounds compared to my bike which weighs about 20.  They just kind go until they decide to stop.  It is pretty incredible what they are doing because I can’t imagine cycling across the country without crew vans.

We had our first arrival today and lined up double pace line to enter go to the capital building in Sacramento.  Apparently Arnold Swartzinager was there last year, so we were hoping he was going to be there again but, unfortunately he was not.  After we were done there, we headed 3 miles down to Sacramento high school where we stayed for the night in their gym.  Our friendship visit tonight was awesome.  We went to Southside and the served us salad, pizza, cookies, and Gatorade.  They then performed tonight as a number of them have formed a band.  The stuff they do at Southside is awesome, their artwork, clay sculptures, and wire sculptures are very very impressive.  A bunch of the guys bought their work too, I contemplated it but I have no where to put it in my bags. We are all calling it an early night.  Tomorrow should be an easy day, but Kirkwood is the day after and will probably be our hardest day on the trip.  It is an infamous day that everyone is dreading.

Happy Birthday Emily.

Day 5 - June 15th, 2008 - Napa, CA - 75 miles


Kickoff!!!   Today we are finally starting to cycle across the country after 4 days of orientation.  So I thought that the other night at the baseball game was cold.  I was sadly mistaken.  This morning was absolutely freezing.  From the time we left the dorms, to the golden gate bridge where we were for at least an hour and a half it was so cold that we huddled together like penguins.  It wasn’t until Sausalito that it started to warm up.  I bought leg warmers yesterday which had to be the best decision yet even though I didn’t keep them on long once we got out of the micro climate that is San Francisco.  Kick off was great though allowing the parents to see us ride off towards Washington, D.C. and even though the fog was really thick off on the bridge it was still cool to ride across.  Once we got moving out it was pretty smooth sailing.  Tom and Barney who were in my pace line for the practice ride joined up with me at the beginning.  We were moving at a pretty solid pace until tom started really struggling.  It wasn’t until later that he found out that his rear wheel was on too tight adding resistance to his cycling.  Barney and I continued on through the country side of California until around mile 55 Barney started to struggle and I moved on to a different pace line.  I was amazed at the difference having energy bars and water from the crew stops allowed me to cycle so well.  What was supposed to be a 60 mile day turned into a 75 mile day due to a change in course from last year, and my legs held up pretty well.  It was my feet, hands and neck that were really sore.  My legs were tired but I felt like I could keep going which meant all that training outside and on the trainer paid off.  I felt like I was a pretty strong rider as I often found myself braking when other cyclist were still pedaling, and I also ended up sweeping in a way for a couple individual pace lines which held me back because we are not allowed to cycle alone.  I’m interested to see how my legs feel tomorrow when we ride 50 miles into Sacramento, but overall it was a great first day of riding.

Day 4 - June 14th, 2008 - San Francisco, CA - 14 miles


So this morning was a perfect way to spend my birthday.  We woke up at 6 a.m. to get ready for our practice ride.  A bunch of the guys had been antsy to get on the bike, myself included.  It was literally a perfect ride except that it was freezing cold whenever we weren’t actually cycling.  We rode through Sausalito on a bike path to begin with and then the road later on.  The practice ride is for us to basically try out riding in a pace line, crew stops, calling out roadside hazards, etc.  The road we were on was actually closed for a vintage car show which started a couple hours after our ride but a few really really really nice cars were already setting up including a couple vintage racers.  The road also overlooked the water for most of the ride and I don’t even want to know how much the houses must cost because the view was so serene.  My pace line was a really good one and we rocked on through and kept a great pace.  Unfortunately one of the guys is on the south route so we won’t be able to keep it together.  But tomorrow, we get to ride part of the route we took today over again on our way to Napa, Ca.  After the ride we came back and had a team meeting that went over what we did right and wrong on the road today, went over some P.R. stuff, had our first crew lunch which consisted of a ham sandwich and some chips, and the two teams had their Kids On the Block (KOB) training.  KOB is a puppet show we put on for kids so that they can learn about people with disabilities and is apparently a real hit. 

Later on in the night we had our kickoff dinner which my dad and I attended.  We had great food heard some of the kick off speeches, and played a little pool.  After dinner I pretty much called it a night and prepared to get ready for our first big day cycling tomorrow.

Day 3 - June 13th, 2008 - San Francisco, CA - 0 miles

Well today was a pretty easy day for us.  We started off by having a late wake up which was at 8a.m. and the same breakfast as yesterday.  We then had a meeting to go over policies and procedures.  After that we went down to Fisherman’s Wharf and had a sponsored lunch at In-and-Out Burger which is apparently a very well known place on the west coast.  A girl there said it would change my life while I was filling up my cup.  While it didn’t change my life, it was good…not as good as Five Guys, but still good.   We over whelmed the little In-and-Out thought, a sign said their max occupancy was 95 people and there was at least 60 in our group alone, haha.  We had about an hour after lunch and got to do a little tourism.  You could get a much better view of Alcatraz Fisherman’s Wharf too and a lot of the touristy places and street performers were on Pier 39.  On our way to the sponsored lunch we went down the most winding hill in the world which was pretty sweet and was a tourist attraction in and of itself.

After we got back to the U of SF campus, we had a quick meeting, received our fundraising incentives, and were done with programming for the day.  My dad had just flown into town to see kickoff and a group of 21 guys decided to go to the Giants game vs. the A’s.  AT&T Park is a beautiful stadium but I definitely like PNC Park better.  The Giants ended up losing the game but it was a great time even though it was pretty cold.  Never would have thought that in the middle of June it would be getting down to the 40s but it was.  We have a practice ride tomorrow of about 13 miles and we will definitely be using the arm warmers.  Another thing about San Francisco that is really weird is the fog.  It appears out of nowhere and is everywhere.  It’s crazy. 

Day 2 - June 12th, 2008 - San Francisco, CA - 0 miles

Today, we had a very busy day that started off with a practice pack and our first crew breakfast which included half a bagel, half a banana, and some cereal.  After the practice pack, we took all our stuff back up to our room and began skills assessment.  This required us to change a tire, pick up a water bottle off the ground while riding, and learning pace line signals and call outs.  It was technically our first time on the bike in San Francisco and was a nice and easy way to start the day.  After that we had a nice sponsor lunch and I took a little nap on the couch while watching Euro Cup soccer.  We then got ready for our first friendship visit at the Janet Pomeroy Center. 

This place was awesome… we started off by meeting a bunch of the people there and then play a basketball game against them.  They destroyed us of course and were very thankful of us.  During halftime and after the game, random dance parties broke out and everyone had a great time.  We got a tour of the center a little later and saw one of the play units Push America had build back in 1991.  When Push was first founded, it stood for Play Units for the Severely Handicapped so getting to actually see one of these was pretty amazing.  We finished up our friendship visit with an amazing burrito dinner cooked by some Pi Alphas who had done JOH last year.  We were serenaded by an older woman named Susan who sang everything from If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands, to Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and God Bless America. We also met a guy named Andy, who up until a few years ago had it all together, but now, doesn't remember meeting someone 2 minutes after he just met you. He kept saying the same things over and over again but his personality was awesome. He was the most outgoing person there and loved to talk to us. He was definitely my favorite person there.

Some of the guys are going out tonight since we have a late wake up at 8 tomorrow, but I think I’m going to stay in and relax a little bit, maybe shoot some pool with Vince, the other guy from Virginia Tech, and just take it easy.

Day 1 - June 11th, 2008 - San Francisco, CA - 0 miles

Well today starts my summer.  I can’t believe it is actually here. To say I am nervous is an understatement.  I keep thinking about how much fun the friendship visits are where we get to hang out and interact with people with disabilities and then I think about the 90 some miles that I’m going to have to travel to get to a destination and the butterflies come back to my stomach. 

Today we all arrived at the University of San Francisco for the first of four days of orientation.  There weren’t any awkward hellos or anything like that; everyone keeps introducing themselves to someone.  It is part of that fraternity bond which is what I figured today would be like.  We went over a lot of basics today, got our jerseys, put our bikes together, signed literally an 8 inch high stack of thank you cards that will inevitably be worth a lot of money some day, had our first north team ritual, and started to try and remember some of the names.  Everyone is excited, everyone is nervous…only a few of the guys on the team have actually done this before so it should be an interesting learning experience for all.  Tomorrow we have our skills assessment test, team photo, our first friendship visit, and of course more team meetings. 

Flying into San Francisco was such a beautiful arrival.  Looking out the window all I could see were huge patches of orange, yellow, red, and dark green colors of grass I’m assuming, with water that serpentined its way through them…very picturesque to say the least.   While flying across Kansas I looked out and said wow that looks boring and then once we hit Colorado and the Rockies I kept thinking “how the hell am I going to do that” and “what did I get myself into.”  I can’t wait to get started. 




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