The tale left off in Albuquerque, a little more than three weeks ago. My friend Colin joined me for what was supposed to be a fun, albeit slightly challenging, adventure.
We had no idea.
Poor ‘Colina’ was in for a real treat, his biggest ride up to that point being only 20 miles. His Spanish nickname transformed the gently rolling hills, to which I had been accustomed heretofore, into steep mountain grades. I’m proud of him, though, for having endured about 6000 feet of elevation change in just under 600 miles! And in only 2 weeks! Also, we were put to the test in multiple days of severe winds. A new personal record for me – 25 mph crosswinds with gusts to 35! It’s easier on a bike, but like he would agree – still not fun. This gave me an excuse to go to visit my first Casino. I won a few times, and we ate a nice dinner there, but I came out about 3 meals-worth poorer.
The government shut-down had begun the following day (can we semantically reframe it as “Total Congressman Malfunction” or “Job Responsibility Holiday?”) and we were promptly kicked out of the Petrified Forest National Park by Ranger Prick (off-duty, so technically he was volunteering). We only wanted to pitch a tent after Colin’s longest ride of his life to date (73 miles). But I blame Congress. I don’t usually talk politics, but on this we can all agree – if you are getting paid to make decisions, then that’s what needs to be done. Better to compromise than be compromised . And despite that they aren’t doing their jobs, they’re somehow still getting paid. Unlike the rangers and other miscellaneous government employees.
My Big Handstand Dance on a section of petrified tree, at “Geronimo.”
Anyway, the government became just as much an issue as time constraints.
So we skipped the Grand Canyon..
Is it even possible for a small group of humans making up a government a measly couple hundred years old to “close” a natural formation millions of years old? Very silly.
So we rode straight to Flagstaff, had some day beers and rode Arizona’s incredible Highway 89a down to Slide Rock State Park, one of the most fun places on earth. The switchbacks were cut into the mountainside at the most scenic goddamn overlook imaginable, as if they were carved by dwarves. I rode the 7 miles down the 7% grade at almost 17 mph, riding all the repeating hairpin turns without stopping, screaming my head off and thumbing-up cars. All while filming myself on GoPro. Top ten days of my life, without any doubt.
We spent two “rest” days of hiking, rock-hopping, easy rock-climbing, and swimming in the ice cold river. We caught up on girls and other things over beers near our riverside campsite. And a few short days later, we made it to Phoenix. Good job, buddy.
Colin and I approaching Flagstaff, AZ. The day it all turned around for us.
At some point just before arriving in Phoenix I passed a milestone: 4,563 miles (7,300 km) That’s exactly half the world record!
Here’s a general recapitulation of items used/lost and time pedaling to give you a greater scope of that distance:
3 sets of disc brake pads
4 pairs of sunglasses
6 water bottles
88 days of riding
117 ounces of gas station peanuts
180 approximate number of hours just to pack/unpack everything daily
494 hours in the saddle
700 approximate number of liters of liquid consumed
950 approximate number of hours sleeping in a tent alone
440,000 approximate number of calories burned, riding and not
And can you believe I’ve survived with only 1 pair of underwear and 2 pairs of socks?
I’m posting this from Los Angeles, California, having just today reached the Pacific Ocean. I’ve ridden through 12 states, D.C., and Ontario. In the scheme of the trip, we check one off!
☑ Cross the North American Continent
⍻ Ride through Central America
⍻ Encircle the South American Continent
This is the part of the post where I take the time to thank the people who gave generous support recently. Sorry if I failed to mention your name!
– Thank You – Thank You – Thank You – Thank You – Thank You – Thank You -
Kalith and Vaughn from Texas
Sara and Noe from Albuquerque
John and Roger, at Black Canyon City
“Ken the Pilot” (my nickname), outside of Phoenix
The Del Neros, I knew there was a reason my parents loved you guys.
Matt, the nimble, 83-year-old retired gentleman who welded and fixed my unicycle on his spare time, with my help of course.
And the ONE and ONLY person to stop for me on the highway after seeing the shirt on which I’ve written, “I NEED WATER.” I only wear it in emergencies, and I’ve worn it quite a few times. It’s true, this guy invested the energy to stop his 18-wheeler, no less. You’re the good person the other people would be if they were in the mood to be good people.
Speaking of Thank-You’s, I really appreciate all the donations from family, friends, and new acquaintances. Be a part of something awesome – donate! Go to the homepage, and scroll down to the yellow Paypal “Donate” button. Thanks!
Cliff-jumping at Slide Rock State Park.
Rock-hopping in Slide Rock State Park, AZ.
One of my Top 10 campsites – east of Palm Springs, near Windy Cove.
Those white angel wings – that’s dried body salt. Salt lines.
San Bernadino, CA – quintessential palm-lined California boulevard.
Landscape in California with the future in renewable energy.
Rock-hopping at an Arizona Rest Stop.
Matt welding away.
Excited to have reached the Pacific Coast of the US, having crossed the entire country.
Check out the new page on this website – “All Rigged Up.” It describes in tedious detail all of my equipment. It’s like a textbook, actually. If you’re not into unicycles, that is, or at least bicycles.
Don’t worry, it has pictures.