Archive for the ‘The physical challenge’ Category

Rawlins, WY to Jeffery City, WY

Friendly horn taps: 6

Rude horn honks: 1

Continental Divide crossings: 2

Total Divide crossings: 4

Miles: 69

Total so far: 3,136

The sky today near Lamont, Wyoming

For obvious reasons, we don’t see much television.  That’s not unusual for either one of us in our normal lives, so we are not missing anything.  The other day, I saw part of a news broadcast, possibly a Denver station, wherein they showed a video of a fly ball going into the stands at a stadium and waiting to catch the ball just as it bounced off a railing was a young girl of about nine years old.  The ball came right to her and just as she was about to get it, a woman (maybe in her forties) snatched the ball from the little girl’s hands, turned to her friends and they began a series of high five celebrations while the dejected little girl did an about face and went up the stairs out of the camera shot.

I thought about that today as we left Rawlins.  I took Carlie to a Denver Rockies game when she was about three years old.  We got there early and while in our seats during batting practice, a ball was hit into the stands behind us.  Somehow we didn’t notice, and the ball ricocheted around a bit and rolled under our seats and parked itself behind Carlie’s leg.  Ball recovered, I thought that was a treat.

The Rockies had a mascot named Dinger , a big dinosaur looking creature, that was not unlike the appearance of one of Carlie’s favorites, Barney the purple dinosaur.

Dinger came out on the field and began circling the wall below the stands towing a wagon.  I carried Carlie down to the wall as he approached, and the kids at the ball park were swarming in front of Dinger, as he was throwing T-shirts and other items up in the stands.  By the time Dinger  got to us, it’s wagon was nearly empty.  The mascot looked in Carlie’s direction, looked into the wagon and took something out with his hands cupped and reached up to Carlie.  Dinger gave her a baseball, signed by the entire team.

The last few days have been emotional.  In our state of constantly challenging the limits of our abilities, there is a fine line between what is manageable and what tips the scales into overload.

When Sallie and I left the cemetery this morning, I said, “Let’s go see Montana.”  It was my way of saying it’s time to move forward.

I agonize over Carlie’s death every day.  I am not immune from that by any means.  I prefer however to think of baseballs and this little child that charmed a dinosaur.

Rock formations near Split Rock, WY

A view of the Great Divide Basin as we came off Rendle Hill.


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Johnathon Ferguson

Johnathon Ferguson

In Loving Memory of Johnathon Ferguson a life lost by a drunk driver.
October 21, 1985 – October 2, 2005. Forever in our hearts!

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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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Pueblo, CO to Royal Gorge, CO

Friendly horn taps: 1

Miles: 56

Total so far: 2,712

Last year Sallie wanted me to join her in Colorado and do an event called Ride the Rockies.  When we were discussing this, I suggested that we also do a ride called the Triple Bypass.  Ride the Rockies is in June and the Triple Bypass takes place in July.  We entered both and were successful in a drawing slots for both rides.

The Rockies were not visible until we got almost all the way to Pueblo. There has been a lot of haze in the sky from wildfires in Colorado and Arizona.

As it turned out, 2010 was the 25th anniversary of Ride the Rockies and to commemorate the occasion, they put together a route through the southwest corner of the state that covered seven days of some of the toughest riding imaginable.  At the conclusion of the ride, the staff apologized, and made an announcement to everyone that they wanted everybody to come back again next year and, “…it will be a long time before we attempt anything like this again.”

Coming to the fence to talk...

Having a visit

The Triple Bypass is nothing to sneeze at either.  It’s a one day ride of 120 miles over three very tough mountain passes.  We began the ride at 4:30 in the morning outside of Evergreen, Colorado, and concluded our efforts in Avon, Colorado after riding some ten hours.  We are now proud owners of the jerseys from those rides (that’s the equivalent of a trophy in the cycling world).  After all of that mountain riding, we also concluded that grinding it out on steep inclines for hours on end really doesn’t excite us too much.

Smoke from a new fire on the other side of the ridge from our camp. The evening winds are up, and that is not a help.

I thought a lot about that today as we were again grinding it out on some steep ascents back into the Rockies.  The difference this time is we have a destination, a purpose, and we’ve already proven ourselves for the task.  Yes, we’ll grind out some inclines, but this  won’t be for some twisted reasons associated with entertainment and athletic achievement like last year…or will it?

Our camp for the evening. Welcome back to the Rocky Mountains!


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Susan Kay Allen

Susan Kay Allen

Susan Kay Allen died at the age of 25 returning from a trip to get a Christmas tree on December 5, 1984.  Susan’s hometown was Breckenridge, Colorado.

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Eminence, MO to Hartville, MO

Friendly horn taps: 2

Rude honks: 3

Brush-back passing maneuvers: 3

Miles: 80

Total so far: 1,826

Sharing the road

We moved through the remaining steep hills of the Ozark Mountains today and left them behind.  Our map information says the following:  “The Ozark Range is considered to be one of the oldest in the world.  It is a moderately rugged series of deeply eroded hills, sculpted by the rivers and the wind.  The Ozarks are the only large area of of rugged topography found between the Appalachia and the Rocky mountains.”

Looking across the Ozarks towards the Jacks Fork River in Shannon County, MO

Running the east-west ridges of Wright County, MO

We now find ourselves in more rolling country, distinguished by a series of ridges that are unusually positioned to run east-west in their orientation.  This makes for good cycling as most of the roads we were on have been constructed on the ridge tops thereby reducing the number of hills.  It’s still hilly country, and my friends in Dallas in the cycling club (Greater Dallas Bicyclists) would have some colorful comments about what I am now considering a bit of relief .  The reality is we’ve been in fairly hilly country since Alabama, and experiencing a break in that is a relief.

Julie's order of catfish tonight - maybe we are a bad influence on her eating habits. Not to worry, the plate to the right is from the salad bar.


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Mathew Montenegro

Mathew Montenegro

Mathew was driving home at night when a drunk driver entered the highway in the wrong direction and struck Mathew’s car head on, killing him instantly. Mathew was only 26. He leaves behind a loving family; his parents, 4 sisters, a brother, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, a girlfriend and countless true friends.

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Cuba Landing, TN to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, TN

Friendly horn taps: 1

Miles 66

Total so far: 1,366

Starting the day through the abundant forests of Tennessee

Tennessee is known for their dogs.  The kind of dogs that live out here in the country and just love to chase cyclists for sport.  We’ve certainly had our share so far and today was no exception, except we had an exceptional day at keeping them at bay.  We use whistles.  Coaches and referee’s type of whistles.  Fox 40 “Sonik Blast” whistles to be exact.  They are loud and piercing.   Just what dogs respond to best.

We'd break out of the trees into these wide open spaces - very pleasing to the eye, yes?

A lot of touring cyclists use some sort of dog repellent — pepper spray, mace — things like that.  To be effective, the dog has to be pretty close, and I’m just not sold on the idea that’s a good policy.  Today we had over 15 dogs take a run at us and we stopped every one of them in their yards with a blast or two on the whistles.  We had one put the brakes on so hard while he was running out of his driveway that he may have scraped a weeks worth of pad off his paws.  I’m not sure why the whistles work — and they don’t work on all dogs all the time, but today for instance we had a 100 percent success rate at keeping the animals in their own yards, and that pretty good for a Tennessee country dog.  It keeps them from getting out in traffic too.

Note the line at the bottom of the sign -- there's probably more to that story


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Dawn Murillo

Dawn Murillo

This is my wife Dawn who was the best mother she could be to our son Nicholas.  She was hit & killed by a drunk driver on Halloween of 2010 in Moline, Illinois while trick or treating with our son Nick, age 8.  It’s been hard on all of us who knew her but really hard on our son, Nick.

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