Let’s do the time warp again!

It was 23 years ago today that I started this job. Seems like a fitting time for an announcement.

It was about 3.5 years ago that I wrote the FAQ page for this blog. It is time for some amendments.

1) Are you going to do this again?
A: What, do you think I’m crazy? I always considered this a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Several people I traveled with have done it more than once and some are planning to do it again, so I guess it’s a reasonable question – just not of me. I’d consider a trip down the Mississippi, or in the mountains of Spain, France, or Italy; or maybe parts of this one (like Needles Highway). I don’t expect to cross the entire continent again.
Then again, I thought the Death Ride was crazy when I first heard about it. I still think Double Centuries are crazy.

Addendum April 12, 2022: Yes, I am going to do this again. On Father’s Day I will once again leave Seattle on my bike, planning to arrive in Gloucester, MA on Saturday August 20. Notice that, while I pooh-poohed the idea, I left myself an out. I guess I know myself after all these years of hanging out with me.

3) When are you going to retire?
A: I can’t answer that.

Addendum April 12, 2022: I will be retiring on Saturday, June 4. I’ll spend the next week riding every day, then a week winding down and packing up before flying to Seattle.

So I’m going back in time 4 years to ride across the USA (and a bit of Canada, if they’ll let us in by then). While it seemed nuts 3.5 years ago, it seems only fitting today. The genesis of this trip was in 1970 when I schemed to ride across the country on a BMW touring motorcycle. About 5 years later that BMW turned into a bicycle. In 1985 my neighbor tried to get me to take a leave of absence from my job to join him on a cross-country trip. He was celebrating law school graduation. I wanted to keep my job and knew my boss (his mom) would never approve a leave. In 2008 the plan to do the trip in 2018 was hatched. In 2018 I finally made the trip.

When Greg (the owner of Cycle America) announced that the 2020 coast-to-coast trip would be the last, I decided to take a couple of days off and meet the riders in Baraboo, WI with beer, and ride with them the next day. When the 2020 ride fell victim to COVID-19, Greg announced a 2022 ride. The wheels started turning. I found myself thinking about the ride more and more on my own solo rides that year. When I got hurt at work, had surgery, and came out of it in more pain than I went in, I started to wonder if I could ever do something like that again. When I realized I could, I decided I would. I have been counting down the months. With 18 months to go I started a draft of this post.

Some may think that was putting the cart before the horse. Here I was penning an announcement to you before I began the announcement to my boss. But on April 1, 23 years after I received my job offer, I let my boss know I’m retiring. Today (April 12) I announced my retirement to my co-workers. You’re next. Sorry, that’s the way the world works.

If the ride was worth waiting 48 years for, I decided it was worth doing twice. So join me again. I’ll be back to writing daily posts. You can jump back and forth in time to see how the same routes turn out on the same days 4 years apart.


Frenchtown Rock

This area used to be home to the mound builders, including those we call the Mississippians. The Ho Chunk called this home. In the 1800s, German and Norwegian immigrants moved in. Then there was a small settlement known as Frenchtown. As usually happens, one person moved into the area and told others. Soon (in the 1850s) there was a small enclave of French immigrants among the First Nations, German, and Norwegian people who were already here.

image from Big River magazine

The other night I went for a ride on Frenchtown Road. It was hot, after a few weeks of fall-like weather. It was humid, during a brief break from the rain – a flash flood warning was issued just before I sat down to write this. One good thing about Frenchtown Road, riding on it always makes me think about Bob Marley.

I am a doer, not an organizer or a fundraiser. As a result, my fundraising for The Ride has been pathetic, and the ride is this weekend. We’ll see if I’m in any shape to ride after four days in motels and conference centers, talking instead of riding. I’m going to ask again for donations, as this hit close to home recently. Thanks again to Vikki for being the first donor on the half-fast page. The Ride is a fundraiser for the Carbone Cancer Center, and one of the half-fast riders recently had a biopsy for suspected cancer. That person doesn’t have cancer, but it reminded me that one needn’t look sick, feel sick, or seem sick in any way to have cancer. It is an equal opportunity destroyer.

Some rides come with unexpected thrills
Moonset after Fri the 13th full moon

It’s a beautiful evening for a walk, but I’m in that god forsaken wilderness made up of motels and chain restaurants; a landscape designed exclusively for the automobile. I walked to and from a nearby restaurant, strolling through parking lots and meandering entrance roads – the sort that are supposed to feel “organic” I guess; curving paths that might be intended to seem like they acknowledge the landscape, but are merely someone’s perversely poor attempt to do something other than make a straight road. Can we tell them there is nothing wrong with a straight road, when the landscape is open and flat? Okay; I know that’s not all it is. Those roads wander apparently aimlessly but not really aimlessly at all. The point of roads through shopping centers is to get you to drive past as many of the stores as possible in order to get you to spend more money. If it’s hard to find your way out you’ll drive past even more of them.

So while hanging out in cheap motels this week, I’ve been watching the Ken Burns series on country music on PBS. The most recent episode featured one of the best recordings around -the incomparable Patsy Cline singing one of Willie Nelson’s greatest songs:

I learned something new on the show. The song “Family Bible” was written by Willie Nelson. I was introduced to the song not by the original 1960 Claude Gray recording (which didn’t credit Nelson as the writer), but by the 1971 release by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen (lest you think I’m a purist).

That album also brought the (in)famous country tearjerker “Seeds and Stems Again Blues”. This was a great crying in your beer song about lost love and lost everything else, with an obligatory spoken verse and a sobbing steel guitar, but maybe if it were written by the Onion (actually Bill Kirchen and Commander Cody). They don’t seem to want me to embed this video, so find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNWw2NFo_ec

Rather than give Commander Cody the last word, I’ll also add that it’s time to clean our adopted highway again. We’re looking at Sunday, October 6 at noon tentatively. Let us know if you can make it. The Dane County Highway Commission will supply the safety vests, gloves, and trash bags. The Dane County drivers will supply the trash.

Aaahhh! (Aaarrgh!)

This post was 429 words, 2 video links, and 6 pictures a few minutes ago. Now when I look, it is only a title. None of my saved versions survived. I guess this is all you get today.

(Four hours later)…I just found a Wi-Fi network that might work so maybe I will try to repost.

At sunset Saturday the van rolled in to our campground carrying all the riders who are staying at a hotel 9 miles down the road in town.We are camped right at the foot of Devil’s Tower.

As they disembarked the party began. The staff had spent the afternoon preparing margaritas and bean dip, and they strung glow sticks around the bar, which was the open back of one of the cargo trailers. Greg’s Cantina was open for business. Live entertainment followed shortly.

(Fast forward to 26:15 for “Reba’s Cantina”)

Robin, one of the British riders, was in an uncommonly good mood, as he had ridden out early Saturday morning to watch England defeat Sweden in their World Cup match in a pub 40 miles down the road.

He sat down and immediately asked all at the table to name our favorite movie. A lively discussion ensued. He was impressed that some of us Yanks knew the film “The Loneliness  of the Long Distance  Runner”, and were aware of the actor Tom Courtenay.

As the party wound down, I made my way to the outdoor seating area behind the camp store to watch the climactic scenes of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.

When the film ended I found myself in more complete darkness than I have seen in quite some time. I was guided back to my tent by the North Star. Scorpio was visible on the western horizon.

Being up so late, I planned on sleeping in. I was awakened by a barking dog at 6 AM. I guess that counts as sleeping in these days.

I did laundry before breakfast, took advantage of the hot sun to recharge my back up battery with the solar charger, and took advantage of the shade and breeze to recharge myself.

Next week we head across South Dakota, including  the Black Hills and the Badlands. Had we been traveling as the crow flies, we would be in the middle of Wisconsin by now. We are following the route of the drunken crow.3CEED3E9-726D-419F-A486-3CD09643C6C9