I would first like to apologize for withholding our adventure from you for over a week now. I do put brief updates on Facebook, if you are interested. If we are not “Facebook official” plug in Taylor.Thibodeau@yahoo.com into the search bar and I’ll pop up. Shoot me a friend request!
Now, onto business. I am aware that Steve began a post a few days ago, so I’ll try not to step on any toes, here. We can all look forward to his account of events from his ride to Perdido Bay up to the train to Denver. Some pretty exciting things took place.
Also, grammatical errors may be present…just let them slide for my sake. I’m busy not caring about punctuation and run on sentences.
PART ONE: Taylor’s Reason)
The day before, I finally got around to replacing my front wheel. I also replaced my back tire. My back tire flattened about a half dozen times. With these new improvements, I expected things would be easier. I was wrong. Facing the fury of the wind once again, Steve and I struggled to make headway. With all we put in, we received little in return. It was becoming clear that the two of us were in Florida no longer. The hills had returned, the palm trees vanished, and the rays of the sun had weakened significantly. To top it off, my back tire was acting unusual. As we rolled, I was sure I had a flat. I signaled to Steve that I needed to pull over. However, when I pressed my fingers against the rubber, it seemed full as ever. This happened several more times. Distressed from spending countless dollars on parts that would not deliver, I began to complain. Thoughts of home entered my mind. After sulking for a bit, I got hold of myself and repeated the phrase, “If this was easy, it wouldn’t be worth it.” Steve checked out my back tire and thought me crazy when he saw that it was still pumped full of air. I’d have thought me crazy too. However, I know my bike, I’ve been riding it 3,000 miles. Something was different.
Some time later, while riding down a rocky road, I could feel each and every pebble push against my rim. Then, I began to lose control and swerve left and right. “Sh**!” I hollered. Though he was listening to music, he could hear me through his headphones. Whenever one of us shouts profanity, it typically means there is a flat amongst us. Without a word, he glanced at my rear tire and saw that it was indeed deflated. “This is ridiculous! I can’t go on this way…I don’t have the money and we don’t have the time! If we want to finish this trip, we may need to adjust our plans.” We changed the tube, and made an agreement. “If this tire last tomorrow, we will set up some couch surfing and proceed with our plans. We will get excited again and do it. However, if this tire fails us once again, we will take a train north to Colorado.”
As we lay in our tents that were so close together they were touching, we explored the idea of taking a train or a bus.Now, I can’t speak for Steve, but I can tell you my reasons and why I am “okay” with it.
1) From the beginning of this trip, right from the planning, I had always said, “I wouldn’t call this a ‘bike trip’, I would call this a trip with which we use a bike…because it makes the most logical sense.”
2) If we were to bike from MS to CO, it would take us at least 3 weeks. Now, I spend about 25-30 dollars on a food a day. You do the math. On top of that, I had been getting flats like crazy…that’s another 20 bucks for two spares. I just couldn’t afford it, and I wanted to reach LA.
3) We need substantial amount of stationary time to train for the Ironman. If we proceeded as we were, it would be a tremendous effort to find places to swim along the way, and we may not be ready in time. Not worth the risk!
4) I have biked over 3,000 miles. If you get directions from Boston to LA the total distance is 2,982 miles. We have done the equivalent of biking the country and more. We still have at least 2,000 miles of pedaling ahead of us. So, I am not in the least upset with my decision.
Now, I hope no one is disapointed. This is our trip, and we will do whatever it takes to finish! We are having a blast and adventure will find us anywhere. By the end of this trip, we will have cycled the equivalent of biking the country almost 2 times.
So, that’s my reasoning for doing it…I’m glad everyone is now cleared up on the matter. If we had endless time and endless money, there is no doubt we would have biked the whole way.
PART TWO: The Cops, The Bus, The Mountains)
The night before the greyhound bus left, Steve and I picked up a couple of bike boxes from the dumpster of a local bike shop. We strapped them to the back of our bikes and pedaled 6 miles to the station, so that we could dismantle our bikes bright and early and head over.
After the terrifying 6 miles down route 49 with this 5 foot long boxes strapped to our back racks, we came to a small field and chose to camp there. Right as we were choosing where each of our tents would go, a car creeped by and put on it’s high beams causing me to squint. “Ah, man…what the heck” We headed toward the car full of people. “What are ya’ll doin”, a man asked in a delicate woman-like voice. After explaining ourselves, they suggested we try the bridge that was less than a mile. “You don’t want to camp on peoples land…they’ll just shoot you around here. We thanked them and headed for the bridge. I guess they were friends of the owner of the property we were on.
We headed for the bridge. We headed down a dirt road to a field that lead to a bridge. We were mostly surrounded by trees. Steve was anxious. After hearing the whole “people will just shoot you” thing, he was not prepared to take that risk. Some nights I’m uptight and others, he is. It just happened to be his turn. He mentioned sleeping without his tent. He intended to just sleep on his mat with his knife next to him. I began to set up my tent, and try to bring his nerves down. Just then, a car began to pull in. The moment Steve saw it he said, “That’s it, I’m getting a motel.” “With what money?”, I let out just before the car reached us. I squinted at the vehicle, “That’s a cop car I think…yup it is.” I muttered. In the back of my mind I was excited. I knew we did nothing wrong.
“Hey there”, the cop began. “You guys have a gun?”, he asked. “No sir”, Steve and I respectfully said at the same time. “That’s good…well I do” So, what are you doing? We explained our trip. He questioned why we were on someone else’s property and why we had such big boxes with us. A moment later, his partner rolled up. All was explained and after giving him and his partner wrist bands, he left us with, “If some drunk redneck bothers you down here…just dial 911…we will be right here.” Steve slept soundly after that.
Morning came and the strenuous task of dismantling our bikes began.
At long last the bikes were in the boxes and ready to go. Unfortunately, we seemed to overlook the fact that only one bag item would be included with the fee. Steve broke his panniers down and managed to fit everything tightly into to bags. I on the other hand, clipped 3 of my panniers together to form one monster-like bag. Hattiesburg to Jackson MS to Monroe LA to Shreveport LA to Dallas TX to Amarillo TX to Raton NM to Denver CO. Over 30 hours on buses. We left Hattiesburg, and headed for Jackson. It was 10:30 in the morning.
When we arrived in Jackson, we had an hour to kill before the next bus would depart. We both grabbed some food and waited at the front of the line. When the hour had passed, the driver unclipped the yellow plastic chain separatin the passengers from the bus and began accepting everybody’s tickets but ours. He simply ignored us. With puzzled looks on our face, we looked at him. He signaled for us to head to the back of the line. This caused an even more puzzled and even angry look. He said, “Your bikes aren’t gonna fit.” Steve and I just stood there with alarm and anger in our eyes. “How can that be? we are front in the line…and they fit on the last bus.” He continued to accept other passengers tickets and said, “The loaders pack luggage first and that’s not luggage.” I protested, “How is this not luggage?” Steve didn’t speak, and he didn’t have to. Everything he would have said was clearly seen in his eyes. The both of us took a step back to cool off and wait patiently. When all the other passengers were on, he looked at us and said, “I have two seats for you, but your bikes won’t fit.” I searched his shirt for a name, so that I could report him if need be. “Can we work with the loaders and try to fit them?” Steve said. The man didn’t answer. He continued to ignore us and do some last minute pre-departure activities. I walked over to the loading crew. “Hey there, we have two bikes here. We fit them on the last bus and we were first in line. We can’t be stranded here…can we try and fit them?”
All in all, they fit them on the bus. Steve and Taylor: 1 Bus driver: 0
I thanked the Lord.
We met a lot of characters along the way. I sat next to a couple of “gangsters” in the back of the bus. Sort of ironic there. Anyway, They offered me weed and I refused. They wreaked of sweat, dirt, and nicotine. Not much different than I with the exception of the nicotine. Some time later, I noticed they passed an erotica book back and forth called “Hot Flava”. Hilarious if you ask me.
Later, I sat next to this guy. He looks a great deal like Viggo Mortenson from the side…not so much in this photo. This is Jim Hilburn.
He raises and domesticates wolves, rides and fixes motorcycles, drive trucks, and has 15 children all in 11 years. (Hmmm…?) Apparently 3 of his children were conceived in the same week. He parties…hard.
We Arrived in Dallas at about 10 PM. This would be our 2nd and last bus exchange. Because of our most recent experience with getting our bikes aboard, we were nervous. But all worked out well. From Dallas Texas to Amarillo Texas was over 8 hours through the night…I slept off and on laying on the back three seats of the bus. When I awoke, all I saw was flat land. Ah, this is the Texas I dreamed of!
The terrain soon began to form hills and small canyons. We saw several small herds of wild antelope.
As I was listening to my iPod day dreaming out the window, I glanced forward momentarily and returned to look out the window. Then, it hit me. “Did I just see what I think I saw?” Directly in front of me was one of the most spectacular sites my eyes have ever seen. Glorious snow covered mountains dominated the land. The beauty was so great that my eyes watered uncontrollably
Finally, we arrived in Denver after 30 hours on the bus. It was 6:45 and we had a lot of work to do. We put our bikes back together and headed 16 miles down the way to find a camp spot. The sun had set, and as the cars began to lessen, we knew we were close to a place to camp. We stopped our bikes at a high point. We looked over and saw thousands of lights. It was beautiful and oh, so quiet. A moment later, the howling and wining of a pack of coyotes echoed in our ears. I pointed to the direction the sound came from and said, “Honestly, I want to camp in there.” It was a massive prairie -like place attached to a couple bodies of water. Trees were very scarce and everything was dry.” I’m going to check it out.” “Okay, I’ll wait here”, Steve informed. I shown my light from my phone and noticed a small fence. “Is that a fence?” Steve asked. “Yeah…but I’m going to check it out anyway.” Halfway to the scarce line of trees, I decided it was pointless since we were trespassing. I turned around and met up with Steve back on the road. Steve was shining his light on a sign. It read: “No unauthorized vehicles allowed.” Then, he shown his light on another sign which read: “Please leash all dogs.” “Wait, so this isn’t private property? I am camping here”, I declared. We pushed our bikes through the entrance and weaved through the sharp cacti. Not too much later, we were both asleep.
The following morning, I woke up to the sound of shoes running back and forth, dog collars, and quiet chatter. I checked my phone. Steve had sent me a text reading,” Gone running. Will be back in an hour”. I rubbed my eyes and unzipped my tent. As I exited, my eyes grew wide and my jaw fell. I stumbled to my feet and stared with aw at the view before me. Thunderous mountains stretched the landscape. It was as if I didn’t see these same mountains yesterday. Once again, I was filled with emotion and my eyes watered. God has such a creative mind.
See the mountains in the back?
I peered across the way and saw dirt trails leading in all directions, around the water, and over hills. Occasionally, I saw someone running, riding a bike, or walking a dog. I began to walk down one of the paths. I heard the sound of a small yelp which caught my attention. I knew it wasn’t a bird and it didn’t sound like anything I’d heard before. I looked right and then I looked left. I heard it again and again. Finally, I realized I was just a few feet from a prairie dog and his hole. I then looked out and saw dozens of holes with their hosts standing at guard near their home. Stiff as soldiers they overlooked the land. I continued my walk and just a few steps later noticed a coyote prancing down one of the trails. That’s when I decided I better get my camera.
When Steve returned from his 1 hour and 20 minute run, it was my turn to hit the trails. With the mountains all around me, I felt a part of everywhere.
See the coyote?
The rest of the day was dedicated to mostly this! With that being said, I hope you enjoy it!
Keep it real…
Hopefully a video coming soon! Got to get back to training…farewell for now.