I'm here in Mac Donalds, waiting on Episode two of the blog to upload to youtube. It's been a while since my last entry, and I apologize to those who anxiously check my site for updates (Haha yeah right!)
I'm out here doing a lot. I'm shooting the film, riding the bike, seeing the sights, and constantly looking for something, always looking for something; campsites, water, food, easier routes, you name it. It's always a search.
Right now I'm thankful that there is a guy sitting next to me, acting as a buffer. Some guy, probably on meth, is preaching about the New World Order. It's kind of hilarious. I dare not look up from my computer. Give me a break, man. I buy into some conspiracies, but people like this guy are all the same. They never have any new ideas. It's just a recycling of propaganda they've been fed through the media. It's currently POURING out of this guy. Anyway...
I’m currently in Quartzsite, AZ. I crossed the Colorado River this morning. It took a little longer than I thought it would, but its still a milestone nonetheless. If I had to quit today, I could still say “I rode a bike across the state of California.” That feels pretty good. The landscape is changing as well. I’m in the mountains now and gained some altitude. The Cacti are getting to be the dominant features in the barren landscape now, although the sagebrush and tumbleweeds are still quite prevalent.
The temperature adjustment was extreme the first week. The transition was difficult, coming from Alaska, where it was only in the 50’s, to a place where the highs are in the triple digits. The sun here is intense. I got burned on the first day, despite using sunscreen. I apply sunscreen about every 2 hours. I’m starting to get a nice farmer’s tan!
I think the decision to switch to a beefier tire was the best one I’ve made yet. Sure, the road tires were faster, but when you’re traveling on a wide variety of road conditions, it makes sense to go with something more rugged. I can definitely tell the difference in efficiency. Today, going up a hill, I stopped twice to see if I had something caught in my wheel. It felt like I was on one of those old stationary bikes with the little wheel you tighten to make the resistance increase. I was like, “ Why the hell is this so hard? Are my panniers pushing my brakes?”
After checking twice, I concluded that it was neither my brakes nor something caught in my tire. It was a combination of an uphill grade of about 4%, FAT mountain bike tires, and a 3-8mph headwind. Yep, that’ll do it. It took me almost two and a half hours to go 20 miles.
Riding the shoulder of the interstate is a truely unique experience. You have semi trucks whooshing by at 70 or 80 miles an hour. You have debris in the path that you MUST avoid. There’s no room for error. Go too far left and, boom, you just became road kill; fail to avoid a disintegrated car tire and, shhhhhhh, you just popped yours. The struggle is real. Here’s my suggestion: Put in some earplugs, or pop in your headphones and turn on the classical music and get in the zone.
I’m just now starting to get a routine going. My efficiency at mobilizing and demobilizing camp is getting better. I can be set up or mobbed out in about 15 minutes now, in the dark (stealthy!). I usually wake up about a half hour before dawn, which is about 6AM. I don’t usually eat breakfast right away, but sometimes boil some water and have a tea. I’m on the road at sunrise, which is about 6:45.
The first three hours of riding are cool and beautiful. Sometimes if the road is quiet, it’s almost like I can continue my dream that I was having before I woke up. It takes me about 30 minutes to really get warmed up and pedaling hard. I think about my destination and kick in the power. I’ve usually ridden 30 miles, or about three hours, by the time I’m ready for a break. I stop and make some food and proceed to stretch, chill, read, play music, or edit some video. That 3-hour break really helps break up the day.
About three or four O’clock, I pack my stuff up and hit the road. I like to ride about 20-30 more miles before I start looking for a camp site, or it starts getting dark, either one. This method can either be really good, or really bad. The impulsive setup has an exciting appeal. I haven’t been rousted from my tent by anyone yet, but I know it’s bound to happen. In urban areas, I ride through, get a hotel, or find a warmshowers host.
I try and plan ahead 2-4 days at a time. There are too many variables to schedule out any farther than that. It’s not a race. I like having the ability to stop and smell the roses if there’s something that strikes my fancy.
I’m really excited to see what Arizona has in store for me. I almost saw an immediate change in scenery when I crossed state lines this morning. It’s like someone flipped a switch. I’ve always found it amusing, the sprouting of mountains out of nowhere, or the appearance of an oasis in the middle of a desert.
When you live in one place for so long, you start to get “acclimatized” to you surroundings. You forget that the earth isn’t just sycamores and grey clay creeks, or black spruce and decomposing granite faces, buried in in the morning’s termination dust. Your connection to you’re territory becomes synced. You become a part of the seasons; as much as the trees or the rocks, or the creatures that roam your vicinity.
Put in a new, unfamiliar place, you’re senses get put into overdrive. Everything comes in at full power. The smells, the lighting, the colors, the feeling of the dust on your skin, the presence or lack of humidity in the air, and the cultural nuances that come with every small town or area, seem like data that your brain scrambles to gather in an attempt to “acclimatize” you. It tries to prepare you, to strengthen you to succeed in a new environment.
When you don’t stop, when you keep on pedaling, you are under a constant bombardment of inputs and data. Things change and keep you on your toes, hyper-alert, but in a good way. I like it.