Monthly Archives: March 2016

A few things that bicycle riders hate

imageI don’t hate any people, I am not even a little bit irritated at anyone, but there are some things I hate, let me share a few with you. At the top of the list are rumble strips, those ruts put in the road when constructed to wake up drivers that have fallen asleep and are about to run off the road and die in a fiery crash, or those texting and about to do the same. A few seconds riding on those rumble strips on a bicycle causes great pain on an already super sore bottom, your teeth to fall out or your bike to fall apart, or all of the above. It really isn’t the rumble strips themselves that I hate, it is where the builders decided to put them. Often the space between the rumble strips and the dirt at the edge of the road is 6 inches so one little wander while attempting to ride in that 6 inches as a result of looking around at the scenery results in a dreaded few seconds getting shaken to bits or hitting the dirt and flying through the air to land with an aweful thud. The other option is to ride on the road side of the rumble strip, which I choose to do, but all the cars passing you can’t figure out why you are riding in the road when you have all that shoulder over there, and honk rudely. So far it has only been California and New Mexico that like these pains in the rear, Texas has been wide shoulders and zero rumblers. A second thing I hate is “chip seal” road surfaces that use 1 inch gravel. You know the the road surfacing system where they put hot oil on the road and then spread gravel on top of that. Small gravel is no problem, but big gravel is just a bit better than rumble strips but there is no place to get away from it. It is constant vibration up the front tire into the handle bars into my arms, neck, and shoulders. It is a little smoother where the car tires run , but I have to keep a constant eye on my mirror watching for cars or trucks coming so I can move over. The third thing that has been more of an issue for John than me so far, but I am sure it won’t be long before I have a flat caused by the wire used in steel belted tires. It is everywhere along the roads, it is stainless steel so it doesn’t rust away, it gets broken up in little bitty pieces by cars running over it, and it has an affinity for bicycle tires. It is an absolute pain. The fourth thing that I hate is head winds. I hesitate a bit to say it because God causes the wind to blow and decides where, and I don’t want to grumble against God and His sovereign choices in my life, but just as a point of frustration there isn’t much worse than looking at the profile on the map and seeing a day filled with down hill riding only to have a 10 mph head wind make the pedaling harder than going up a 6 percent grade. Almost makes you cry. That is just a few of the things I hate, but I am rejoicing always and having the time of my life😀

Rest day

imageJohn has had 7 flat tires and now when he does I take a nap. Nice sunny spot next to the road and it isn’t bad for a quick nap. Takes John about 15 minutes to put a new tube in and I can get in a nice nap. Today we slept in, had a nice breakfast, walked about half a mile to a little church in town. With us there was maybe 20 adults. They had a barbecue afterwards and invited us to stay. Great hamburgers with chips, cookies, fruit, and iced tea. Tomorrow we are headed to Langtry, Texas, the town where Judge Roy Bean held court. We are going about 60 miles tomorrow.

Freezing Cold

imageWhen we started riding this morning at 8:30 am it was about 35 degrees and the wind was blowing about 10 mph. It was freezing cold. I put wool socks on my hands and cut a smal hole for my thumbs to fit out so I could shift. When I had shifted I would pull my thumb back into the sock. I also wore an insulated stocking hat under my bicycle helmet, but my face got so cold I couldn’t feel anything when I touched it. It never did get warm all day long. Patty bought a little electric heater and we are sitting in our tent on lawn chairs feeling very warm. We biked 84 miles today, and we got into camp about 7 pm. This was the longest day of riding that we have had on the trip, and it is probably also the new “hardest” day as well.  We had a 10 mph head wind much of the day and a lot of uphill to travel as well. The last 30 miles was all downhill but we rarely got over 10 mph because of the headwind. What a waste of good downhill riding!  When we road into camp Patty had dinner ready and I was hungry enough to eat my bike. I had a toasted cheese sandwich and a big bowl of clam chowder with beans, peas, potatoes, and some other stuff thrown for good measure. Tomorrow we are having a res day. I am so looking forward to that. We are planning on going to church. Sanderson is a small town and the churches are very small as well. The 6 of us will really increase their attendance.

Tenting

imagePatty and I are living in a little 4 person dome tent on our bicycle trip across the nation. Here is a picture of her bundled up in her sleeping bag reading her Kindle.

Short Day

We had planned on going 60 miles today into Marathon, Texas but the campgrounds and motels were all full because of Spring Vacation,  so we had to stop in Alpine which was  just 26 miles riding. But after yesterday’s tough ride none of us minded a short day. So that makes tomorrow an 85 mile day but Sunday will be a rest day so that is alright. Bicycle riding really seems to make my Parkinson’s better, but there is one thing that is difficult, that is going slower than 4 mph up steep hills and getting started. The reason is that the Parkinson’s has really affected my balance so when I am going slow I wobble around a lot. When I get to 4 mph going uphill I get off and walk which I really don’t mind because I walk 3.7 mph and I get to rest my Butt and use some different muscles. When I start I make sure the bike is in it’s lowest gear so I can get it moving quickly, and I also get the right hand pedal  in the half way up position so I can stand on it when I start and my weight gets it going quickly. I usually wobble when I start so I make sure no cars are coming before I start. The biggest challenge I have on the trip is when we are riding in town and stopping and starting at stop lights especially when there is a vehicle right next to me as I start. I pray hard. I am loosing weight though I don’t for sure how much, but my bike shorts are fitting looser and this morning I bent over and laced my shoes without gasping for breath.

five flat tires

We had five flat tires today. John had 4 and Richard had 1. They are all caused by the little wire that is in tires and the truck tires that have blown up and the remnants of are all over the shoulders of the road. The wire is so small that it is hard to find in the tire but if we don’t find it and pull it out there will be another flat with a hole in the exact same spot in a few minutes.   It gets to be a major frustration in the biking journey. So far I have had no flats. It could be because my tires are smaller in diameter than the other guys therefore having less tire contact with the road. It could be that my inner tubes have goop in them that seals the hole if it is punctured. It could be just plain luck. Or it could be that Jesus loves me more than John and Richard😀 Today was the hardest day of the trip for me. When I rode into camp I was totally done in. We biked 88 miles and most of it was uphill going as high as 6,200 feet and we had a head wind most of the morning. We are camped tonight at Fort Davis and tomorrow we will be in Marathon. Tomorrow we will be riding only 60 miles and the terrain will be a lot of rollers but no major hills to climb. The country that we rode through today was very desolate with one little town and very few houses with lots of cactus, sage brush, and rocks.

1000 Miles

Today we hit the 1000 mile Mark on our trip. To celebrate I did a little jig around my bicycle and John videoed it and put it on You Tube so my reputation and my dignity are all gone. If you would like to watch it search on You Tube for “The Dee Duke 1000 mile jig”. We only rode 33 miles today because there are no camping sites, Warm Shower  hosts, or Motels for the next 90 miles. That means we get to ride 90 miles tomorrow and about 70 miles of it is uphill, some quite steep.so it is going to be a very , very hard day of biking. We will be going through the Davis Mountains and will hit 6,200 feet elevation and then down into camp at Fort Davis, Texas.  Today was mostly flat with very little traffic and short. We left later than normal at 9 am and  still made it to camp before 1 pm. We are camped tonight in Van Horn. Today there was a lot of people in cars and trucks that were very friendly to us. They would honk and wave, and one stopped beside us while we were stopped for a break and chatted with us. I forgot to put sunscreen on a couple days ago and I sunburned my nose pretty good. Now it is peeling, and the skin cracked and bleeds and I look like I have been in a fight with Patty and lost. I will try not to forget again.

Long day

We peddled 83 miles today, and it was hot all day. But we had a very nice tail wind almost all day and only had one hill about 10 miles long with about 1000 foot elevation gain to climb so it was a very nice day of bicycling. We started out the day with two flat tires before we left camp so we got started a little bit late. One of them was from the thin wire that is in tires and there are lots of shreds of truck tires all along the shoulder where we ride. The second was from a cactus thorn and there are lots of cactus everywhere. So far I haven’t had a flat. We will see how long that lasts. Once we got out of El Paso today was a very desolate ride. There times when we went 30 minutes without a car passing us. Most of the towns we went through we’re all abandoned and boarded up. The first 8 miles as we were going through El Paso there was major road construction with zero shoulder so we were riding with the cars and it was very tense. One of the cool things though is there were signs that we saw often that have a picture of a bicycle on it with the words, “Share the Road”. There were no campgrounds and the only RV park had no water or bathrooms so we are staying in a motel tonight. It feels so good to sleep in a regular bed after the 83 miles of riding today.

Texas

imageWe entered into Texas today. We are camped tonight at El Paso in an RV Park with a swimming pool!!! That was the first place I went after we rode onto camp. I was so hot and the swim cooled me right off. We had a very nice ride today of 65 miles. It was mostly flat with one big hill and we had about a 10 mph tail wind for about 40 miles. When it got to blowing good at our backs it was almost like having a motor on the bike😀 After our two day rest I felt pretty good today. Most all of my aches and pains and sore spots had healed up, and I rode along enjoying the country in relative comfort. Lots of farming in the area we were in today. We have seen thousands of Pecan trees, and I saw my first cotton plant. I lost my my really nice bicycle jacket off the back of my bike where I had stuffed it under a bungee cord when I got hot. The young girl from Quebec who Is traveling with us left camp after us about an hour and saw it and picked it up for me. Yeh!! Richard had his cell phone drop off his bike and a fellow saw it and picked it up and called.  We are still in the process of recovering that. Tomorrow we are going to bike about 85 miles. Sure be nice if we had another tail wind!!

Camping

Well tomorrow we are off on another leg of biking. The plan is to go 6 days and then take one rest day off instead of two like this time and that will allow us to shorten up  a couple of days mile wise.  We will enter into Texas tomorrow and we will be in Texas for almost 2 weeks, it is a big State!. At the end of each day unless we find a warm shower host home we camp at an RV campground that also has tent sights. Some are quite reasonable in price and others are a bit more. Some are very nice and others not so nice. The key thing is the shower. When we have been sweating all day on a bicycle a shower feels so good. Some of them have very little hot water, some of them have about the same amount of water pressure as me spitting, some have just one shower for everybody in the camp and you have to wait forever to get in, and then there is the ones like here, super nice. There are 3 separate shower rooms that are big enough to bend over in with lots of hooks, a bench and lots of hot water and lots of pressure. The RV park that we are heading for tomorrow has a swimming pool, whooooeeeeee that will be nice. The two days of rest have been great. Everything seems to be feeling good. We are supposed to have a strong tail wind tomorrow and that will add a couple of mph to our average. Talk to you tomorrow.