Tomorrow, We Ride To The Mountains.

Moments after I published the last post, Steve informed me that we would be couch surfing. We were both delighted because it had been awhile since we took advantage of the website. We pedaled 10 miles to the home of Zack and Desiree. They are two newly wed Christians who have  gigantic hearts and a fun loving attitude. They dig board games and I was pleased to see that Jurassic Park was in Zack’s movie collection. We both agreed that Jurassic Park 3 doesn’t qualify as part of the franchise. I was glad of this. On the other hand, I was not glad that Zack told me that he will remember my name because of Taylor Swift…I paid it back by calling him ZATCH (he hates when people spell his name with a “CH”) We’ve had fun hanging out with them.

We are not surfing alone, however. We are sharing the home also with  Christyn and Hudson. They are in there early 20’s in Denver looking for work. They are a couple of cool laid back hombres.

Fun times have been had. While everyone was out doing things with their day, Steve and I walked to Qdoba and watched  a series of movies including: Tombstone, The Page Master, and Heavyweights. Overall, the day was a success. When Zack and Desiree returned home with Anna (3 year old they babysit) we went to the dollar tree. I purchased: waffles, whipped cream, trail mix, and potato chips. Can you believe it was all just 1 dollar? Soon, the house was full of people and we had a regular party going on. A picture was necessary.

So, here I am. Sitting on the couch while Hudson plays Steve’s Guitar and the other married couple plays a board game with Steve. Tomorrow begins our ride into the Rockies. I am greatly looking forward to taking a bounty of photos and videos.

I will be posting a video as soon as I have enough footage to put together. Also, I am also working on “my masterpiece”. It will take about a month to complete. Should be good! Stay tuned.

Praise God for all he has done for you,

Taylor

From the Ocean to the Mountains.

Dear friends,

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.

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.

Taylor

Cedar Key

It’s been about a week since I’ve been on a computer. I think it’s time I post something. Readers be warned: the author is tired and will fail to stimulate your mind with descriptive images and clever phrasing.

Steve and I are in Perdido Bay, just a few miles from the Alabama border. Can’t ya just hear them banjos?

This past week has been an interesting one. let’s step back about 5 days ago.

Steve and I were exhausted. The sun had retired and the moon came out. The both of us were in need of a water refill and some fuel to consume. Eventually, we came upon two country stores 50 feet apart from each other. As we wheeled up, I looked at Steve and said, “Which one do ya want to go to? Whichever one we choose will have a major impact on our future in some way…no pressure”.

Steve said, “Let’s do both”.

Well, we never ended up going to the second one, because life had different plans for us. As I slunched my exhausted body over a wooden chair, and devoured a hot pepperoni and jalapeño pizza, a woman walks in. She appeared middle aged, had long brown hair, and wore old blue jeans. “So, I put two and two together. Where are you from, where you going, and will you beat me there?”

After explaining our story, she offered to set us up for the night. We pedaled about 16 miles down the road when a big pick up truck met us at Dollar General. We loaded our bikes and headed for Cedar Key. Carol, the easy going middle aged hippy informed us that she had 11 children all above the age of ten. I think she deserves an award.

Carol, her husband Rick, and her kids (well, some of them) were in the process of moving. We drove to the “new” house and Carol dumped us off. The house was ours for the remainder of the stay. The floors were in the process of being laid down and the wooden walls and overall feel reminded Steve of Maine. The house was pretty much empty except for a few lamps, a mattress, and a fridge.

The following day, Steve and I awoke to carol inviting us to go clamming with her husband, Rick. We, always looking for a new adventure, agreed.

From sun up to sun down, we worked with clams. Hauling, washing, and filtering. It’s a messy and stinky job, but a great deal of enjoyment was had. Beer and pizza all around.

The following morning Steve and I decided to separate ways. I wanted to see what else Cedar Key had to offer. I visited a state park museum just a mile from the house. Turns out this key played a major role as a port in the Civil War. I also enjoyed some clam chowder that won 3 years in a row as the “best in the world”.

I couldn’t stand sleeping alone in a house like that, so I set up my tent outside. I built a fire, cooked some hot dogs, and went for a walk. I walked for miles until I came upon a park bench right up against the ocean. I laid on it and put my eyes to the stars. The sounds of the waves crashing onto the beach lulled me to sleep. I awoke a short time later. I walked back to my tent and fell asleep.

Now, I was lucky enough to meet some of Carol’s children. They all had big hearts and I enjoyed their company very much. Phoebe, the 14 year old could have passed as 18. She was both mature in appearance and in personality. While riding around and taking pictures, I bumped into Jamima. She is going to be 17 soon. She saw that I was bored and brought me to a family friends house. From about 5 to midnight, I enjoyed chicken wings, ice cream, and the company of people my own age.

Sleeping was rough that night. The wind and rain kept me up.

The following morning, Rick came by to pick me up. We packed up my gear and picked up Carol and headed for Pensacola! The 5 hour drive was a lot of fun. We stopped to eat breakfast at Huddle House. I paid…it was the least I could do. Rick and Carol talked to me about how they met 3 years earlier and how 2 weeks later, they were married. They are good people.

Now, what if we went to the other country store?

P.s. We entered a new time zone…one hour earlier!

Taylor

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The Road to Pensacola

Yesterday, I entered the Florida panhandle. With the panhandle came the foothills of the Appalachian range, rows upon rows of reforested longleaf pine trees, a fair share of big trucks with hunting gear, and lots of rain.

The hills started around mile 100 yesterday, and stayed consistent all the way until I called it a day at 138 miles. I pulled up at the side of the road and nestled my tent next to a property fence. This morning, I met Dennis, another touring cyclist who has been riding around the country since August 2010. He has seen quite a bit, and was great to talk to. Unfortunately, some bad luck befell him as he had lost his wallet only the day before.

We went our separate ways in anticipation of a tornado warning and lightning storms. *In fact, I am online right now and am interested to find that the aftermath of the tornado leaves me with a flash flood warning for the rest of the day.* So, I rode west through Tallahassee and through the biggest forest in Florida, the Apalachicola National Forest. Pine trees get repetitive, especially when you are in a full-on shower. I have never seen such heavy rain back in Mass. Anyway, I survived, as you can see.

Now, I am in Blountstown, a small main street town on the road to Pensacola. I have 150 or so miles to go, and I will probably do another 50 of those today. On another particularly remarkable note, I passed a small swamp about 2 hours ago that was virtually stacked with alligators. I saw at least twelve! I suppose they wanted to get near the road for some sunlight, as the rain cooled it down to about 60 degrees.

So, I will leave you for another day.

-Steve

Two roads to the same place

For the next few days, Taylor will be staying in a great little town called Cedar Key, where he will enjoy boating and clamming on the Gulf, as well as a host of other island activities. Conversely, one day out on the clam boat was great for me and I am ready to get back to cycling. I will be riding around the Gulf up to Pensacola area. I am currently in the town of Chiefland, and will be moving on shortly! Taylor will be meeting me when we get to Pensacola.

Also, for anybody who is interested, March marks the beginning of my threshold training for the Ironman. Each day’s ride will now consist of some sprints and longer, faster pushes to get my heart rate down and my VO2 Max up. I will also be on high mileage for running, and throwing in plenty of long tempo runs. I will swim when I can….

Thanks for reading!

-Steve

Disney done, Alabama here we come!

Taylor and I did not have any internet access while at Disney World. Thus, we have quite a bit to update on. For now, I can only give brief summaries, as we still have plenty of riding ahead for today.

We are enjoying 90 degree weather and lots of nice bike trails. Some brief maintenance has helped our bikes run a bit smoother, and we got complimentary golf balls for our kick stands from a great little shop along the way. Last night held quite a surprise as well.

As I got ready for bed (we were camping beside the bike trail), Taylor hopped up and told me he was going on a run. I told him I’d probably be asleep when he got back. an hour and a half later, I got up to check where he was, and was greeted by his bouncing headlamp blinding me and telling me he did ten miles. And he wants to do 10 more. So I decided I should jump in.

By then end of it all, I had done 11 miles and Taylor ran 21. Pretty good run for 2 guys who just finished 80 miles on the bikes! Of course it will come in handy come May 5th.

So now we are in Hernando, FL and on our way to Alabama. It will be nice to get to a new state and a new month.

-Steve