Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Let the numbers tell the tale.

Enjoyed a tailwind up Parley's Canyon to the summit.  Then I had a headwind to Kimball Junction.  And finally a blustery, 56 degree fahrenheit sidewind into Park City, Utah.  Reunited with my friend Renae and had a few cold beverages.

Total Miles Pedalled:  10,744
Hours in saddle:  1074
Average speed:  10 mph
Number of flats:  16 (14 in the U.S.)
Lost items:  (all valuable) 2 sleeping bags, 1 tent, 1 rainpant, pictures, pair of shorts, knife
One bicycle completed journey with one drivetrain replacement.
Liters of fluid:  1000 +
Broken spokes: 1
Days of journey:  370
Nights camping:  310
New friends made:  many
Number of countries visited:  19 (no, I will not change the title of my blog;)
Favorite country:  America (prejudice withheld-even though I do pee red, white & blue)
Other fav countries:  Australia(for flat out friendliness), Israel(for history) and France(for stunning cycling terrain - done dope free)
Longest day in the saddle:  third from the last, in the hot - Nevada desert
Most miles in one day:  156 (Kansas - with a delicious tailwind)
Proximity to natural/manmade disasters/calamities:  1.Kansas Tornadoes, 2. Missouri floods, 3.Northeast heat wave, 4.Athens, Greece strikes, 5.Israeli/Palestinian tension, 6. Cairo Riots(prevented me from visiting), 7.Bangkok, Thailand 50-year flood, 8.Localized flooding in Australia, 9.Melted snickers bars and 10. Failure to pull over at numerous ice cream vendors!
Total cost of project:  priceless
Let's go for a bike ride, GiddyUp!!
Your friend,
David Walsh

Monday, June 4, 2012

Nearing the finish line does not equate to things getting easier.

My friend Todd tried to warn me, but he knew he was dealing with a "hard head".  Crossing the Great Salt Lake desert had to be one of my top three, if not the most difficult days of my whole year.  I prepared as best as I could for the day that lay ahead.  I had 120 miles of pavement between Wendover, Utah and Salt Lake City, UT.  It was warm and a westerly breeze lulled me to a light slumber.  I got up at 5:30am, had a filling breakfast at McDonald's.  Only one cup of coffee as I did not want to dehydrate myself before starting the day.  My bicycle was loaded with 5.5 liters of water/gatorade, and associated snacks.  I started heading eastward just as the sun was coming up from the horizon.  The air was still and the temps were cool.  "All is right in the world", I thought.  Then my first snafu hit me at around mile 31, a flat tire to my front tire.  OK, no big deal.  Fixed it without too much worry.  Flat number 2 came, 2 miles later.  "OK, I must have missed the wire stuck in the tire.  No, I checked and felt the tire as I always do, several times in fact.  Just bad luck."  The sun was now higher in the sky, thin clouds kept the temps in check, probably in the low to mid 80's.  At about mile 45, you guessed it, flat number 3 struck me.  I was fuming!  Good thing I had 6 spare inner tubes with me, as I was using them up quickly.  I fixed that and continued on.  I was dealing with a combination of road debris, which was not clearly visible, as the shoulder appeared to be relatively free of debris.  "So, there must be something else at play", I thought.  And finally, at about mile 51, and flat number 4!, yes the most I have received in over 30 years of cycling, I deduced that my front tire was disintegrating with me atop it!  Not a good scenario.  Luckily, I limped into a convenience store/gas station in the town of Delle (I think is the name), not much of a town to speak of, just the store in the middle of the desert.  But today, it is sunday, and the motorcycling community has taken over the gas station for a charity ride for abused children.  Pretty cool if you ask me.  So, as I was fixing my wheel for the forth time, I was saying a few prayers and soliciting the divine for some relief while also fielding questions from the bikers.  Tire was repaired, two spares were tucked into my salt caked jersey and I was beginning to think that I was going to run out of tubes before reaching SLC.  But wait, it gets thicker.  Because now, the wind has shifted from the south to the east.  And since, I am heading east, that means it is blowing in my face - forcing me to "grind out the miles" at a slower pace. UGH!!  It feels like I am cycling in an oven.  "Just gotta keep going."  Or until I say "enough", which I did, at the twelfth hour in the saddle and after some 99 miles.  I quickly grabbed 5 chicken tacos, drank 1.5 liter of pepsi and found some shade behind a building to wash up.  I was laying down on top of my sleeping bag by 8:30pm, and knew I would feel refreshed in the morning.  Today, I awoke, had breakfast with 2 cups of coffee, and headed to Todd's house in SLC.  A mere 3 hour ride brought me to Todd's, via negotiating central SLC and highway 201 and Interstates 80 and 215 and 15 (now that was "interesting" and potentially harmful to life & limb) and we caught up on our lives and went for a delicious lunch.  As sidenote, Todd is one of my inspiring friends.  He loves to ski on his telemark gear and he loves to ride his mountain bike on long distance tours.  To date he has longed over 33,000 touring miles.  Truly remarkable!  Don't let up on us old men, Todd, just slow down a touch so we can catch up.  So I have one more day of pedalling, about 30 miles, up the hill to Park City, Utah.  It feels surreal to be back "home".  I thought I could/would feel at home wherever I laid my head, but I have come to realize that home is where I am most familiar with the sights, sounds, family & friends.  I sure hope there is some good music playing on the radio tomorrow, and that the beverages are cold, the women and men are above average and the wind is at my back - yours, on a rocky mountain high.  David Walsh ;D

Friday, June 1, 2012

Paranoid people are following me.

That is my fav t-shirt slogan, found in Australia.  And it is the thought that ran through my mind as the Nevada State Trooper pulled toward me as I was taking a fuel break along I-80.  But the anxiety was for naught, as he merely wanted to check on my health and status.  Being a mountain biker when off-duty, and upon hearing of my travels, he saluted me and said, "Awesome job!".  I asked him how much more I had of the rough patch of roadway and he assured me that it would improve in another mile.  This after cycling 3-4 miles of bumpy pavement in the righthand lane with traffic on the lefthand lane of the orange cones.  My hands were numb and I just wanted off the rough surface.  Thank goodness for starting early at 7am, as by noon when I pulled into my destination, the temperature was a toasty 87 degrees.  And thanks to my friend Todd who lives in Salt Lake City, I have been aptly warned about crossing the Great Salt Lake Desert.  I will do so loaded with water and Gatorade, much as I did in Israel.  I will make room for the extra fluid and will begin my day early to alleviate the heat index.  My friend Ian sent me some interesting "nerdy" tidbits regarding June 5, when I will be wrapping up my bicycle ride.  Here they are: 
Whilst you’re doing that (celebrating on 6/5) remember that it’s the day of the transit of Venus which will not happen again until 2117.

In 1770, James Cook the explorer was sent to Tahiti to map the transit of Venus. (I also learned, while in Hawaii that "we" were not to friendly to Mr. Cook as he was killed in Hawaii after a scuff with the locals)

242 year and 2 transits later, you’re not far away from the same spot.
Thanks Ian.
Only one more town, Wendover, Nevada, in which to "lay it all down on the table and let it ride"....too bad I am NOT that type of a gambler.  And yes, Wen I am slathering the sunscreen on as the sun is rather "burny" out here in the desert of the western U.S.  Yours in the land of "giddyup", david walsh ;D

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Back to my old spinning ways.

As the song goes, "don't let your wheels drive you crazy".  Currently I am in Nevada, Elko to be exact.  A mere two day ride from Utah and a measly four days of cycling left in this beautiful adventure.  WOW!  But it has been a while since I last wrote on this blog.  And I have seen and pedalled through some fabulous country.  The hardest little stretch would be the coastal range of northern California.  My legs had not climbed 2,000 - 3,000 feet of elevation in many moons.  But my fuel management, which consisted of snickers bars, gatorade, water, raisins and nuts and bananas propelled me up and over the undulating terrain of NoCal.  My route first started along the coast and then headed inland from Arcata along the Trinity River.(yes, the Father, Son & the Holy Ghost were and are with me ;D)  I followed this till it spit me out into the old gold mining town of Shasta, just west of Redding.  I then headed south along hwy 273 and I-5 (prepping me for Nevada) and then hwy 99 to Chico and the surrounding orchard land.  The cycling was flat and offered a delightful tailwind, so I spun for 80 miles on that day.  After Chico, I then headed a little south and then east to catch the Feather river.  Two separate people told me of the beauty of the Feather river, so I just had to take their advice.  And yes it was pretty, with its large granite boulders sitting in the cold riverway.  Bit of a shame that it has been dammed for hydroelectric power by PG&E.  The twisty canyon road was hemmed in by steep hillsides with ponderosa pine trees with many sections showing an old forest fire burn area.  The weather was superb for cycling....low 80's and dry.  The rain did finally catch up to me in the town of Belden, CA, but it was my day off and I enjoyed the local tavern for my meals and passive entertainment of a TV.  (Mesmerized after having gone without it for so long - not much to miss, I am afraid)  I continued to follow the Feather to the town of Portola, CA where a nasty cold front caught me with 5 miles to spare.  The freezing rain numbed my legs & feet, and I decided to warm up inside a cozy motel room in town.  Snow on memorial day weekend is not rare in the sierra I learned.  The next day, I quickly spun my legs due east and south through warmer Reno, NV.  Taking the belt route around Reno to Sparks and finding the entry point to I-80 required a little route finding, but was not too taxing.  One "traveller" recommended I head south to Crescent City and then north, but after I had checked the NDOT webpage for bicycling access to I80, I knew there was a more expedient way.  And here I am, in Elko.  I typically spin for 53 to 69 miles per day, landing in a sizeable Nevada town.  I have adopted a new eating approach where I have a large "brekkie"(as my Aussie friends call it) and then when I pull into my destination town, I head to another fairly large sitdown - late lunch/dinner.  Then I clean up, read up, nap-up, and finally camp up.  Then I wake up and do it all over again.  GiddyUp!  I love the routine, the ritual, the flow of my day.  Upon finishing I will have to establish new routines....and know I will involve myself with cycling one way or another.  It is something everyone can do, and it is darn good for you too!  You may wonder about the flat/non-descript terrain of Nevada....well, it is not ALL flat and is quite filled with birds and lush compared to some other deserts I have pedalled through.  I will check in again soon.  Much Aloha, David Walsh ;D

Friday, May 18, 2012

Enjoying Oregon to the fullest.

I am prolonging my experience in Oregon today, by extending my stay at the Harris Beach State Park in Brookings, OR.  Today, is a sunny - cool day to take a day-off the bicycle.  The campground is situated right on the coastline, offers as other state parks do - hot showers, and has a little monk seal pup sunning itself on the beach.  The pup waits for it mother to come in on the high tide, as that is feeding time, and then I assume continues to lounge on the beach for another day.  Cycling down route 101 has been enjoyable.  I have met some wonderful hosts, like Barbara & Curt of Salem, who fattened me up with lasagna one night and blueberry pancakes for breakfast the following morning.  All tasty cycling food.  Thanks so much for hosting me you two!  And wishing you only good winds as you soar into your next flying adventure.  The weather has been unseasonably dry, which is delightful as a cyclist.  The temperatures have been in the 50's-low 70's, so I have enjoyed pedalling with my tights and fleece.  Out of a week of cycling, I have only had one day of a slight headwind.  Most other days, I have had a substantial tailwind - giving me a little assistance on the flats and gentle hills.  Yesterday, I climbed the highest hill on the route - 712 feet above sea level.  The hill was gradual and did not require much effort to accomplish.  The whole coast has a sizeable shoulder, so one feels safe with the moderate amount of traffic.  Once in awhile a truck loaded with lumber comes barreling past, but even that does not faze me.  What did cause me concern was a cross wind yesterday coming from the east where most of the wind had been coming from the north and west.  The wind struck as I was descending a hill, going 35-40 miles per hour.  I felt as though I might be going down on the pavement with the swirling wind.  But I gradually pulled on my brakes and slowed down a bit, and gained greater control and passed through the section safely.  The only "near miss" has been a large RV towing a vehicle.  I find RV's to be the most dangerous, as they are "part-time drivers", using their vehicles only a couple times per year vs. the professional truck drivers who drive day in, day out and give bicyclists ample room.  So today I am resting, knowing that the sierras are coming up in the next week.  I am looking forward to do some climbing and to be enshrouded in the big timber canopy.  Sure am glad to have bought my "third" sleeping bag, cause I sure am sleeping comfortably, even if the zipper does not cooperate.  And it looks as though my tent is going to last till the completion of the tour....even after three failures.  I look forward to publishing a "by the numbers" encapsulation of the ride for everyone.  Until then, Keep your dreams alive by working on them each and every day.  :David Walsh

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sometimes LIFE can get messy - Kath Walsh

Comforting words at just the right time!  Please bear with me....please take a seat.....and remember to breathe....because I have just experienced the WORST day of the past year!  I wish to recall it not to solicit pity, but more to offer testimony of resilence and perserverence.  As I was packing up my gear to fly from Honolulu to Portland, Oregon, I was looking for a most valuable item - my camera memory chip.  This chip was my first of two and it held some 1,400 pictures of my trip.  Well, I could not find it, nor have I found it on my successive searches!  So, basically 3/4 of my journey is minus my pictures.  I was devastated!  And I think I know where it has ended up.....somewhere on  the Bruce Highway in Australia.  Thank goodness I am in the company of Dave and Edna in Portland, OR.  As they are a delightful couple who love to ride their recumbents.  And Portland is to cycling, as Hawaii is to surfing.  So I feel at "home" on a few different levels.  Upon hearing of my tragic revelation, Dave replied, "well, you will just have to do it again!"   As part of my healing over the loss, I also got a haircut, and if you have been following this blog, you know how a simple haircut can lift my spirits.  Now all I need is a philanthropist to assist me in retracing my pedalstrokes and reshooting my journey's pictures.  I am willing if there is a partner out there.  Just a thought.  And no, I am not contemplating on reriding the route.  I would use my daily journal, which I refuse to leave my possessions, as a guide and drive by car or by motorcycle.  If you have any ideas or thoughts you wish to share, feel free to contact me via my email is From Portland, I plan to cycle south through Salem, then to Corvallis, making my way to the stunning coastline of Oregon and Northern California.  Thanks for reading, and I hope this finds you in good health.   Aloha, :David Walsh

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Marvelous Maui....

My dear friend Katie Walsh (not of my tribe Walsh ;D) joined me for 8 days on Maui.  We rented an SUV because we wanted to drive along a 4wheel drive road to Polipoli State Forest and camp within the old growth forest on the shoulders of Haleakala.  We were at about 6,000' and had to put on just about all of our clothes we had, as we had just left the warmth of the beach and drove up to our camp.  Thank goodness for emergency blankets too, as they kept us especially warm.  We first started our Maui tour on Hanapapa Beach adjacent to the airport.  The water is clean and the beach is white and clean with few tourists, but a bunch of kiteboarders.  The +/- 24 kiters out on the water look so playful as they skim and jump over the water, someday I will take a lesson and try my hand at the sport.  From the north central side, we then went to Kihei and stayed in a nice condo, which my back loved.  We were less than a block from the ocean, so it was easy to watch beautiful sunsets and to get blown off the beach from high winds.  I was one of the "smart ones" to swim in the surf and found it quite easy to swim downwind than going upwind.  Funny how that works.  Next stop was Polipoli, which a 4wheel drive was really needed, but the guide books have to dissuade the average traveller from getting into predictaments I guess.  At the bottom of the hillclimb of PP, there was a most beautiful and aromatic lavender farm.  We strolled through and looked at the myriad of plantings and smeared our hands with smelly potions.  From central Maui we then Headed to Wainpenapa State Park for two nights.  The park was secluded and had only a few other campers.  It also had a cool black sand-crescent beach with small rocks that have been rounded and smoothed by the continual wave action polishing the once volcanic pebbles.  The park was a little spooky as it is home to an ancient cemetary, but that never scared me as the residents are merely sleeping, so you never have any violators of quiet hour! :D  The park also had a freshwater cave, which I found to be refreshing and awesome to swim in.  The history of the cavern is that once upon a time, a princess was hiding from her angry and jealous king, and he killed her, thus turning the water reddish once in awhile.  Others believe it is the underground shrimp which form the luminescense.  From the south, we then drove from Hana to Kahului.  And yes I survived the Hana highway, but barely!!  It has 54 single lane bridges, and countless whoops and curves, thus it made me nauseous to the point that we had to share the driving so as to settle my stomach.  We took our time and stopped at the more beautiful pools and streams.  The weather was a bit overcast with intermittent sprinkles.  Some of the tour bus drivers were a bit kamikaze-like in their aggressive methods, so you always had to be aware when driving.  The town of Hana had a few jobs, but I did not see myself living there as it felt like it was at the "end of the road" and too remote for my liking.  We ended our trip where we started our trip.  The time went by quickly, but we had a great time, from swimming with green turtles north of Lahaina to laughing about old and new jokes.  I appreciated Katie for coming over to visit and acclimate myself to "coming home", Thank You Katie for spending time with me and for being a long time friend.  I love to laugh with you.  As I have spent some six plus weeks, I believe, in the islands, I have kept a passive and active eye out for jobs.  The thinking was that I would live and work for a few months and or a year and then continue on my journey back to Utah.  Hawaii has two faces, much as most places probably do.  One face is the beautiful beaches and the clean tourist hotels/condos and then you have the tremendous homeless population and the epidemic drug problem.  Homelessness is so pervasive due to the temperate environment.  One can find some abandoned land or trespass onto private land, set up camp and live off a  host of means.  Maui had a strangest vibe of all my travels to date.  Unfortunately, no seeds have born fruit in Hawaii, (meaning:  acquiring a job) thus I have made plans to fly to Portland, Oregon and will get back on my bicycle, making my way along the Oregon coast and then will make my way through northern California, across the Nevada desert and finally back to Utah, where I will hopefully celebrate with family and friends.  With much ALOHA, ;D
David Walsh