Archive for the ‘Friends made on the road’ Category

*This post was written June 30, but I was unable to post until July 1 because of signal availability*

Twin Bridges, MT to Bannack State Park, MT

Rude horn honks: 2

Miles: 54

Total so far: 3,613

Nice background for a video shoot, yes?

We had some special visitors this morning. ABC World News News Correspondent Ron Claiborne, and Associate Producer Bradley Blackburn met us at our camping spot in Twin Bridges to do an interview about the ride, the blog, and what all this means. The intended purpose is for airing on ABC World News sometime in the next two to three weeks.

Sallie negotiates some camera angles

Let me say this right off the bat. These fellows drove up from Denver, and I hope they had another story to cover, because that is a long haul. Regardless, I know they had not had much sleep, but you couldn’t tell – their enthusiasm was remarkable. They were concerned about the time an interview would take and how it may affect the outcome of our day’s journey, so after introductions, Sallie and I started our ride on the bikes down State Route 41 and they shot background footage for about an hour.

Shooting background footage from a rental car

More background shots by Bradley Blackburn of ABC World News

The day couldn’t have been better in terms of weather. The sun was out, there was barely a cloud in the sky, the air was cool, maybe in the mid-sixties. At that point in the ride, the terrain was level as we moved south-west through a green valley dotted with ranches on either side, and bordered in all directions by gorgeous mountains (thank you once again, Montana).

After the background footage, I was interviewed at roadside for about 45 minutes to an hour. The interview was not easy, as it seems two things were going on simultaneously. One: We have been on the road now for over two months, and despite my willingness to try, it’s difficult to suddenly put together my best thoughts for this purpose. My thoughts are still there kind of percolating around all the time, but conclusions haven’t been drawn yet about the effect the ride has had on me or the work we do. Two: One of the effects I have noticed about the ride is that emotions are very close to the surface. We are engaged in an athletic activity that takes enormous amounts of stamina, our diets are not the best, we’ve been dehydrated, exposed to all kinds of weather, and we are sleeping the best we can  in tents on the ground in conditions that often require earplugs and eye shades. There were some questions that I tried to answer but my emotions almost overtook me, as they now lie so close to the surface. None of this is a bad thing, it is what it is, after two months on the road.

Negotiations continue about bicycle use

After the interview, a surprise – Mr. Claiborne donned a pair of shorts, a helmet, and some running shoes and asked if he could ride Sallie’s bike. This gave us both a little bit of pause, because these heavy monsters just do not handle like anything the average person has ridden. It turns out Ron Claiborne is anything but average. Along with his irrepressible enthusiasm, he’s apparently logged some serious mileage in Africa on a touring bike loaded with gear.

With my caution of, “The first hundred yards can be dangerous, but after that you’ll be OK”, he took to the bike like a natural. They wanted to an introductory shot with the two of us riding down the highway while he gave some opening remarks for the camera. We managed to do a few takes, a few U-turns on the highway without crashing or causing a traffic tie-up. It was indeed a good morning.

My hat is off to ABC World News for sending such an enthusiastic crew for the interview, and as always, please be kind to us in the editing room!


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Bronson David Parsons

Bronson David Parsons

Bronson Parsons, from Troy, Montana was walking home with his best friend. He was a half a block from home when he was struck down by a hit-and-run drunk driver. Bronson was 25 years old.

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Hebgen Lake Dam, MT to Ennis, MT

Friendly horn taps: 1

Miles: 50

Total so far: 3,513

The Madison River at Earthquake Lake. The mountain to the left sheared off in an earthquake and dammed the river.

We’ve been following the Madison River since Wyoming, and today we followed it all the way into Ennis, Montana.  This morning, leaving the Hebgen Lake Dam area, we went downstream on the Madison to Earthquake Lake where in 1959 an earthquake hit the area that measured 7.5 on the Richter scale, dropping a whole side of a mountain into the Madison River Canyon, causing a natural dam of the river. The sudden flooding was massive and many lives were lost.

At about the same time we were adjacent to the lake, we met up with Ryan, from

Ryan, going to Astoria, Oregon also

near Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Ryan is doing the traditional Trans-Am from Virginia to Astoria, Oregon.  When we introduced ourselves, he said he’d been hearing of a brother/sister team going from Florida to Oregon.  Ryan got to know Julie and her partner David before David abandoned the ride, and he’d been travelling with others that we’ve either met or heard about about over the weeks and months.

A community has formed.  Binding us together is the route, whether we are east-bound or west-bound, some of the same goals are lining up as to ending points, pace of riding, riding style, and even splitting the cost of accommodations, be it camping or stopping at hotels. However we are bound, as though moving on a river.

Some of the original groups have splintered as the distances build, the miles accumulate, fatigue sets in and tempers get the best of folks.  Still, there remains the binding element of the route.  They may not finish together, they may fracture and finish another time, but the goal is to finish.  For all of us.

Those whose lives have been affected by the preventable crime of drunk driving are a community also.  We are bound together by our worst nightmares coming to life, by poor decisions, and criminal behaviors that have taken something from us.  We may not know each of our members, but we have a vehicle to seek common ground.  Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  The organization is formed from people affected and acts on behalf of those affected by the preventable, criminal acts of others.  This is our river.  Please consider supporting us.

A closer view of the mountainside that came down forming the lake

Montana. Sallie says it looks like pictures of Switzerland here.

Looking east, away from the Madison River

The Madison River as it goes by Ennis, Montana. The snow run-off has muddied the water some down this low.



Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Jeremiah James Newman

Jeremiah James Newman

Jeremiah Newman, from Heron, Montana was killed in a motor vehicle collision involving a drunk driver.  Jeremiah was 28 years old.

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Frisco, CO to Hot Sulphur Springs, CO

Friendly horn taps: 1

Rude horn blasts: 1

Miles: 68

Total so far: 2,885

Dillon Reservoir

Back on the "road" - actually a bike path that took us to Silverthorne

We got a late start out of Frisco (9:00am or so) because our cousin Lee made us a huge breakfast to get us back on the road.  We were warmed by Lee and her husband Palmer’ hospitality, and we needed it.  Clouds had moved in and intermittent rain was in our future for the day.

Beauty Break...

Despite less than perfect weather, the ride was amazingly beautiful.  We left Frisco going north around Dillon Reservoir, through Silverthorne, and then followed the Blue River down to Green Mountain Reservoir.  We took a small road that went through Heeney, stopped at Kremmling for lunch, and made it through the Colorado River Canyon  into Hot Sulphur Springs in good time.

3 brothers: Noah, Timothy, Philip, ages 22, 19 and 17 bound for the east coast from Oregon, then returning home along the Canadian border.

Hannah and Perry - going from Virginia to Oregon

Rebecca, going from Fort Collins, CO to Seattle. She's developed her own route.

I made some calls into Wyoming and touched base with some old friends that I hope to get a chance to see as we pass through their towns.  I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about the return to Wyoming during the weeks on this ride.  This is significant for me.  I suppose one can never live 30 years somewhere, leave for five years, and return without it being significant in many ways.  We’ll see how it goes as we get there.  Patience is a part of the journey on a bicycle.  That’s important equipment.  Patience.


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Michelle Wright

Michelle Wright

Michelle Wright, from Denver, was killed on November 8, 1996 by a drunk driver.   Michelle had an enormous amount of ambition.  She played soccer at the Universityof Denver, played soccer in China, she was a licensed private pilot and a skydiver.

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Frisco, Colorado — Day off

A view of Main Street in Frisco, Colorado

The Manager at Wilderness Sports in Frisco, Clay Schwarck, explaining the intricacies of Shimano pedals

We got Sallie’s bike taken care of today with fabulous help and service from Wilderness Sports in Frisco, Colorado.  They got a Shimano Deore crankset shipped in overnight from Salt Lake City, and had Sallie fixed up by 4:00pm today.  The credit goes to Zach, the tech that spotted the bent small chainring yesterday.   The gearing on the Deore will be more appropriate for loaded touring, so Sallie will get a lot of benefit from lower gears too.  She’ll probably leave me in the dust.

Zach at Wilderness Sports - excellent wrenching. My cousin Lee's husband in the back left overseeing the exchange.

Brian from Ft. Worth meeting my cousin Lee. Exchanging information with other riders is an established and necessary tradition.

We encountered two young men, Brian and Cody, the other day in Hartsel from Fort Worth, Texas that were doing the Great Divide Trail.  The Great Divide Trail is a mountain bike trail that runs from Mexico into Canada.  These fellows rode from Mexico to Salida, Colorado last year, and they were striking out to complete their ride this year going to Bannff, Alberta Canada, and then on to Vancouver.  We will intermittently cross paths with the Great Divide route during the next several hundred miles, and it was interesting to speak to a pair right away.  Today while running errands, we saw Brian coming into the post office at Frisco getting ready to ship some of his gear back that he decided weighed too much for the need.  That’s pretty common.  In fact, I was doing the same thing – that’s why I was at the post office.  I’ll need the lighter load to keep up with Sallie and her new gears.


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Scott Thomas Lawson

Scott Thomas Lawson

Scott Lawson, of Evergreen, Colorado was killed in a collision involving a drunk driver on November 19, 1998.  Scott was 18 years old at the time of his death.

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Royal Gorge, CO to Guffey, CO

Miles: 23

Total so far: 2,735

Looking back over the climb we had today - we are at altitude

We climbed to 8,600 feet today to arrive at Guffey, Colorado, a must-stop spot on the Trans Am.  Guffey is a little difficult to explain.  It’s a small town of about 35 residents, and they are an active bunch.

Bill Soux

We met Bill Soux, the local proprietor of Guffey Garage, curator of the Guffey Museum, and the owner of  the Guffey Antique Shop.  Bill rents buildings for anything from honeymoons to storage.  Bill hosts Trans-Am cyclists at the Guffey Historical Hostels, no charge, but a donation is requested.

The Guffey Garage - Bill says nothing of his is for sale, so don't ask

The cyclist hostel, our quarters for the evening

The kitchen - no lights, no gas, no plumbing, no problem

The bunk area

Bill is the originator of the Fourth of July Chicken Fly and several other community events.   the Chicken Fly is a competition that involves children pushing chickens out of a mailbox with a toilet plunger from a tower and measuring for the longest flight.  The record is some 185 feet, and it must be noted, no birds are ever harmed during the competition.  Proceeds from the event have contributed to the building of a fire station and a charter school.

Images from the Guffey Museum:

Fourth of July Chicken Fly advocate

I'm not sure how to explain much of what's here...


Bill Soux's certificate of appreciation for hosting cyclists in the original 1976 Bikcentennial


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Lisa Lyn Swisher

Lisa Lyn Swisher

Lisa Swisher was a veteran of 4 years in the United States Marine Corps.  Lisa, a native of Aurora, Colorado, was killed by a drunk driver going the wrong way on a freeway on January 20, 2007.

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