Archive for the ‘The mental challenge’ Category

Saratoga, WY to Rawlins, WY

Friendly horn taps: 3

Miles: 51

Miles so far: 3,067

Yes, they do place these every five miles on I-80

I feel better now that I’ve showered. It’s been a rough day in many ways, some bittersweet, some just plain rough. The day started fine with a break in the weather, the forecast of blue skies and warmer temperatures was welcome, but there would be west wind going into Rawlins. This would double up the challenge as there is a thirteen mile stretch ahead of us on Interstate 80, dead into the wind – it’s the only way to get there from here.

Carlie is buried in Rawlins. We had been in Rawlins for the preceding three years. At the time of the crash, she was in kindergarten at the Rawlins Elementary School. I was a division supervisor with the highway patrol. Through the years as I thought of this trip, I knew the Trans-Am went through Rawlins, in fact, the riders go right by the cemetery.

I thought for a very long time that if I ever did this ride, I would pitch my tent by her grave. This is something not everyone can understand. I’m aware of that. Bereaved parents have such ideas – remember, we live in a “new normal” that is anything but normal.

I placed a request with the chief of police of the Rawlins Police Department five days ago and I called him again this morning, and finally got to speak with him. He denied my request. This was quite an unexpected blow. Trans Am riders are hosted by towns all across the country with invitations to stay in their city parks, and I had not anticipated being denied, particularly since this man knows me quite well and knows why I made this unusual request. I guess it was particularly tough because that phone call was placed first thing in the morning, and that did not contribute to a pleasant start to the day. As in all things, we’ll adapt to this and move forward.

Nonetheless, we started out and Sallie was struggling. She’s not been feeling well. The ride has us pushing ourselves physically right to the limits and we’ve both noticed that it’s quite easy to have added stress push us overthe red-line. We resolved to a slow ride that was not going to be very long, but would prove difficult – particularly pushing a head wind on Interstate 80.

On the positive side, I received word today that Ray LaHood, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation has recognized our efforts in this cross country bicycle attempt in his US DOT blog, Fastlane. This is quite an unexpected honor, and I continue to be surprised and humbled by the attention and support we are receiving.

We checked into a campground upon arriving in Rawlins. The young lady behind the desk asked me if I’d stayed there before as she said, “I looked very familiar.” I explained that I lived here several years ago and then mentioned I was a state trooper. That seemed to ring a bell with her and ultimately, she had a moment of recognition. She told me she recognized me from the documentary that was done about my daughter’s crash. She started crying and tried to apologize. I told her she was extremely brave to bring it up, as many people might not be willing to mention it. The two of us shared a few tears. She’s one year older than Carlie would have been.

The following are images from today. There are no captions.

Sometimes words fail me…

Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Gene Bucklin

My dad, Gene Bucklin, was “the rock” of our family—unbreakable and solid. He always had your back. You could count on Dad to be there through thick and thin.


At 7 a.m. on a Saturday, Dad was killed by a drunk driver less than 10 miles from our home.

Sarah Bucklin, Casper, WY

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Sulphur Hot Springs, CO to Walden, CO

Friendly horn taps: 1

Continental Divide crossings: 2

Miles: 62

Total so far: 2,947

*Please note:  Tomorrow’s post may not be published until the following day, as Sallie and I are going to a remote area in the mountains of Wyoming.

The Colorado River west of Granby

We are ever closer to the Wyoming state line.  It’s a 22 mile ride from here, and we will enter Carbon County, Wyoming just west of North Gate Canyon and the Platte River Wilderness Area.  We’ll travel to Riverside/Encampment and then turn north towards Saratoga.  On the way north, we will pass by the Silver Spur Ranch.  I was conceived there.  That’s an odd fact that was revealed to me by mother who made that known to me after I moved to Saratoga in the mid 1970’s. I always felt at home in the North Platte Valley, and I will forever have a special place in my heart for the area and the people there.

Carlie and I lived in Carbon County when she was killed on that fateful New Year’s Day.  Up until that time,we lived in Rawlins for  three years, as I was stationed there as a division supervisor with the State Patrol.

Nearing the summit of Willow Creek Pass

As we ride into the valley tomorrow, in front of us will be the Sierra Madre Mountain Range.  We always referred to those mountains as “Carlie’s Mountains”, and we spent an unusual amount of time there for a child that young.  When Carlie was three and a half, we spent eight days up there in one stretch.  We always had a comfortable camp (including a large canvas wall tent complete with cots and a wood burning stove), we had some books, a few toys, and Carlie’s ever constant companion, Sadie – as faithful a black lab as they come.

Another crossing of the Continental Divide

There is a creek near where we’d set that camp, and Carlie loved to go to the banks of that stream and just watch the water swirling in the pools, teaming with brook trout.  We’d have a snack of a gorp mix I used to make with equal amounts of salted peanuts, raisins, and M&M’s.  Carlie used to pick through the bag of gorp and retrieve the M&M’s.  She used to tell me that I worked too hard, and I just should take some time and go sit by the creek and watch the fish.

I am working too hard, but this is a labor of love. Tomorrow will be eventful, as I’ve said.  Returning to a land I once loved on Father’s Day.

Beauty break...

Mountain run-off

It's not all beauty and wonder. We spent a good portion of the afternoon getting lashed by wind driven rain.


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Adam Michael Neyer

Adam Neyer

Adam Neyer, from Englewood, Colorado was killed at the age of 18, far too young.  The collision took place at the hands of a drunk driver on June 3, 2001. Adam was just a few days away from his high school graduation.

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Guffey, CO to Fairplay, CO

Friendly horn taps:1

Miles: 46

Total so far: 2,781

This was taken looking northwest from Currant Creek Pass 9,404 feet. The biggies are ahead.

One more image of Guffey - this little buck was casually watching me as I brushed my teeth

This is really tragic.  For the last three days or so I’ve had Bon Jovi’s, “Livin on a Prayer” lyrics running through my brain.  My daughter used to describe it as, “a song stuck in your head”.

So true.

I know a lot of people are praying for me, so in a lot of ways,  I guess I am living on a prayer, but this could be a record.  It’s even staying around during the windy times of day when my brain turns reptilian and all I can do is grind out the miles.  I’ve tried replacing it with another song, but that could be dangerous.  I have to pick the right one, or I may end up on a therapy couch somewhere complaining about John Prine songs.  I’ve tried poetry, but that’s not even close.

Today we finished our miles to Fairplay, Colorado in winds coming from the north-west at speeds of 35 miles an hour and gusts to 43.  We were, of course, heading north-west all day, so it was a bit of a grind.  We treated ourselves to a fabulous dinner at Mason’s High Country BBQ.  They do fine St. Louis style ribs, complimented nicely with their German rope sausage, smoked baked beans, and stewed fresh greens.  That’s good stuff.

The South Platte River near it's headwaters. Through the willows you can see the snow capped peaks ahead, but they blend well with the sky.

The north winds are bringing cold temperatures with it too.  First, let me state that Fairplay is right at 10,000 feet.  The snow capped biggies are right in front of us (naturally, they are to the north, from which the wind blows today).  We’ll tackle them tomorrow easy enough from this altitude, but it’s forecast to be 36 degrees when we exit our tents in the morning.  I won’t complain though because there is little chance of precipitation, and that’s a good thing when we crest Hoosier Pass tomorrow.

These are route markers for the Trans-Am. The #76 is from the year 1976. We've only seen two in Colorado, though we've seen several in Virginia on another ride.

There is an ongoing debate about prevailing wind direction — there are people who will steadfastly say that we are going the wrong direction, that the prevailing winds come from the west and north.  Folks who live in this part of the country are particularly vocal about it.  While that is true for most of the year, the prevailing winds are generally from the south during the warm summer months. I am confident they will return, but I am also confident the debate will continue.



Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Samuel Sandoval

Samuel Sandoval

Samuel Sandoval was from Colorado Springs.  On July 31, 2004 he was on his way to Pueblo, Colorado on his motorcycle when he was stuck and killed by a hit and run drunk driver.

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Pittsburg, KS to Hepler, KS

Friendly horn taps: 1

Miles: 28

Total so far: 2,001

The cattle here are a bit more social that we've encountered elsewhere. This cow told me I looked tired.

There is a building on the grounds of the city park in Pittsburg near where we camped last night.  As they will do, some birds nested in one of the ventilator areas of the building.  I could hear when the mother bird would bring food to the young ones as they would raise a fuss.  My guess is, the ones that are the strongest, making the most noise, and becoming the most active and aggressive — they are the ones that are fed first.

No explanation necessary

If I were in that nest this morning, I wouldn’t have the strength to make much noise.  I’d probably be that last one fed, if fed at all.  I was wiped out.  I felt better after we got on the road though.  My new found energy was probably related to knowing we did not have far to go; maybe it was the short few miles we went into Girard before we stopped to do laundry.  Maybe it was the easy pace for the short day ahead.

The Emmanuel Lutheran Church - the rear building was our hostel for the night


We’ve come to rest at a church.  The Emmanuel Lutheran Church, just east of Walnut, Kansas leaves it’s doors unlocked to their meeting hall for cyclists to come and stay.  There is a full service kitchen here (although it was stocked with food – we brought $50 worth of groceries), and sleeping in air conditioned comfort.  Just what I needed.

We’ll hit the road again tomorrow, but for today, I am resting (just as soon as I catch up my blog, my e-mail, my gear…)


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Lynne Marie Polette

Lynne Marie Polette

Lynne Marie Polette was a ray of sunshine, a shooting star.  It has been sixteen months since a drunk driver took her life and her boyfriend Jeremy McGavic’s.  She left two beautiful young children and a family that is healing but will never be the same.  I know she is still with us, I hear her infectious laughter and her love and peace fill us.

Shirley Kemper, Grandmother

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Cave in Rock, IL to Goreville, IL

Miles: 62

Total so far: 1,536

Today during our morning ride, Sallie commented, “It’s hard to believe we’ve ridden all the way to Illinois.” In some ways it is. Maybe it was the day off, but it seems like the days we’ve spent on the road have flown by in a blur and I hope the rest of the trip does not give the same impression. I trust it won’t – maybe Kansas may put that to rest.

Souther Illinois - the green is on, the hay is deep

I’ve also considered, with some reservation, that we are somewhere near one-third of the way through the journey. The raw map mileage for our route works out to somewhere around 4, 500 miles. That’s without detours and we’ve had, and will have, plenty of those. Something tells me not to mark off progress like that. I’m inclined to think that is not wise, but it’s certainly on my mind, especially because we’ve now joined the venerable Trans-Am route.

Sallie helpsa turtle cross the road - good karma

The Trans America route I’ve been referring to runs from Yorktown, Virginia to Astoria, Oregon. It was established and first promoted in 1976 for the Bicentennial celebration, and was at the time operated by a group that called themselves Bikecentennial. They’ve since become the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA), a non-profit operating in Missoula, Montana. ACA supplies the maps we use and keeps tabs of updates and road closures with the help of the hundreds of cyclists out on their routes. They have guided tours of all kinds too.

Saratoga, Wyoming is on the Trams Am. Thirty five years ago I was living in Saratoga and the Bikecentennial riders came through town all summer long and the subsequent summers after that. It made an impression on me that still lingers, but at the time I’d have rapidly denied it if someone were to tell me that I would attempt that ride someday.

There is a little bit of magic for me as I now join that route. I have some sort of impression going on that the Trans-Am is a bit like the famous yellow brick road. Riding today turned out just to be another day of cycling, nothing too special, but there is power in knowing those individuals that precede me have done so over these same roads. I’ve read some of their journals. I am inspired. I guess there is enough magic in that. Besides, we’ve ridden all the way to Illinois!


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Kayla Elizabeth Bain

Kayla Elizabeth Bain

Kayla was a 19 yr old aspiring chef college student attending her second yr of Baking & Pastries at Johnson & Wales university in North Miami Florida. From a small local town in Fort Ann NY Kayla always wanted to live in Florida & be a chef at the young age of 19 how she got what she wanted in life. But on Jan 2, 2011 her life along with 2 others was taken by a drunk driver they were killed on impact many families & friends lives never to be the same.

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