Monday, July 30, 2012

What to Wear on a Bike

Packing for a cross country bike trip can be tricky. There are so many factors to consider, including usefulness, wife-happiness, and most importantly, weight! Deziree had the idea to take pictures of the few outfits I plan on bringing, and how mixing and matching will allow what little weight we can afford to bring lots of possibilities.

Biking Day

Pearl Izumi shorts and shoes, cycling tank top, Giro Cycling Gloves, Smartwool Cycling Socks, and ExOfficio Bugsaway Bandana. This will be my go-to outfit most days. I plan on bringing 2 cycling tops, 2 cycling shorts, and 3 pairs of socks. I will wash one outift at night and let it dry while wearing the other one the next day.

Inclement Weather

Tricky weather days will require a few extra pieces. My Marmot Rain Jacket will do for both warmth and dryness. I also have a pair of FHS blue spandex from my days of track that I'll use in rain, wind, whatever. When we got rained on in Colorado, I found that I'm pretty sheltered behind David, and my bent-over position also keeps my legs mostly out of the rain.

Around Camp

I have a few handy options for what to wear when we're off the saddle. We hope to be into camp early afternoon each day to avoid the hotter hours, so that leaves quite a bit of time to hand out in non-spandex-based clothing. Here are a few ideas:
Smartwool Zip-Up for the cooler nights
My favorite wash-in-sink-and-wear dress!
Plus a killer scarf my friend, Kristin gave me :)
Lounging in a tank top and REI "Knickers"
Oh, and our favorite folding chairs!
Hiking Pants and
my Under Armour Shortsleeve V-Neck

And it all goes...

In my panier! Everything I plan on needing to wear (hopefully!) fits into this yellow bag that attaches to a rack on the rear of our bike. David also has one, with all the clothes he hopes to need.

See Deziree's take on the shoot here at her awesome photography blogAnd, if you're interested in any of the items listed here, check out the links. The commission we earn from anything you buy through these links goes directly to support our cause of rebuilding a well in Nicaragua!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


We're in the home stretch!  We are officially done with our training, and today we shipped the bike out via Fedex.  Packing a tandem is much more difficult than packing a single bike.  Bike shops have extra bike boxes, but they're all for single bikes, so my initial thought was to tape two boxes together and reinforce it with lumber.  That changed when we got two boxes from bike shops and turned our living room into a shop.

The longer box we had was 57" long and our bike was significantly longer.  The typical bike is prepared for shipping by removing the front wheel, pedals, and seat post.  The rear derailleur is loosened, rotated, and taped to the frame, the handlebars are turned, and voila! it fits into a bike box.  

Instead of doing the same thing for a single bike, I decided to shorten the bike as much as possible.  I started by doing everything listed above for a single bike and ended up with about 75" of bike.  I then removed the rear wheel and uninstalled the rear derailleur and taped it to the frame, all the while leaving helpful instructions for the bike mechanics to put back together, like "Sorry, lost the bolts.  Hopefully you have the right replacement bolts to put together".

After getting everything uninstalled the bike ended up at 60".  Three extra dumb inches.  After wrestling with the bike, hoping for a miracle, I decided to cut a hole in the end of the box to fit the rear fork out.  I put a block of wood in there and secured it with 2 pounds of duct tape, bubble wrap, scraps of cardboard, and more duct tape.  It fit, and the bike box was only 65" long, which was under the magic 70" limit that doubles the shipping cost.

I finagled the seat posts, handlebars, fenders, rear rack, and other miscellaneous components in there and it weighed in at 58.5 pounds, which was under the other magic limit of 60 pounds.  I added another pound of packing tape and duct tape, and we have a bike on its way to Portland.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Seriously Gifted

My work family gave me this gift basket for our trip. Nothing says "We love you and good luck" like beef jerky, energy bars, and hand sanitizer! The card was also really cute:


That's Spanish for:

Sure, go ahead and leave your friends, the only people who really care about you!

Even though we haven't yet left for our trip, it's been really awesome to see how our friends and family are already gathering around us, to encourage and support us in so many ways.

And for anyone wanting to send us a package along the way, just call/text David or I and we'll let you know a good address. Apparently, it's not too hard to have packages delivered to Post Offices along the way as long as we're able to swing by to pick up our things within a week or two.

And a note about the ads...

Also, we're experimenting with ads as a way to earn some extra money for our cause. Hopefully, they're not too annoying and they might actually add an extra dollar or two towards our well in Nicaragua!

Monday, July 23, 2012


By now we've told many people about our upcoming trip, and we've had some very common responses.  I wanted to address some of these in case you haven't asked yet:

"It's going to be hot!" -  We get this one a lot, but its meaning changes based on who tells it to us.  Some people have lived in the southeast and tell us that August is unbearable.  I bet it is, and that's why we're taking the northern route.  Some people have lived in North Dakota/Montana and claim that August is insufferable, but we won't be there until September.  From conversations with people who have lived in upstate New York, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota, I think it will be warmer than optimal, but not insufferable.  I've never been to the first 8 states we're going through, so I honestly don't know how the weather will be, but we'll let you know if the timing was a mistake.

"It's going to be cold!" - We biked over Wolf Creek Pass two weeks ago and we stopped at the top of the pass to take a break.  This park ranger saw us and we told him where we were biking that day and he suggested that we bike across the country.  "Actually we are... Maine to Oregon in August and September." His replied "Oh, so you're going to go across the southern states?"  I was staggered!  After correcting him he  responded that Montana could be cold in September.  I agree that there's a chance we could get snowed on in the passes in Montana, or that it could be cold.  That's why we won't be sleeping at the top of the passes.

"You guys are crazy!" - I want to thank everyone who has told me that I'm crazy.  Some people say it because we're taking 2 months off work.  Some people say it because they cannot imagine the desire to propel themselves across the entire country.  Some people say it because Leanne and I will be spending days and days together having  no other friends, little alone time, and struggling to push and balance a single bike.  And some people say it because they're concerned about our safety.  But bottom line, we're very excited about it and can't wait to get going.  I understand it's not a typical desire, but when you get excited about something it's easier to get over some of the inconveniences.

"But what are you going to do when it rains?" - Biking in the rain isn't as fun as biking in beautiful sunshine.  But biking in some rain (or days of rain) shouldn't completely stop us.  If we go through serious rain, we may take some shorter days and stay in some more hotels to dry off.  Or if our gear isn't adequate we can always stop and buy more rain gear.  Right now we have good rain jackets, good shoe covers and one bright pink, gently-used poncho.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Spin Cycle

Just a quick post depicting life in the home of cyclists!

Deziree will attest to the fact that the bikes (each of ours plus the tandem) have semi-permanent residence in the entryway and living room in our tiny duplex. But this way, our precious pieces of metal are safe from the ever-present New Mexican dust and we have a handy way to dry our clothes!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

FAQs Answered!

You've asked them, now we'll answer them!


How can you take so much time off work?

I work at a wonderful church, First Baptist Church of Los Alamos, and they have graciously accommodated to my absence by rearranging the schedules of the other lovely ladies that work in the office. David will have saved up 5 weeks of vacation and his company has agreed to take him down to part-time status (5/8 time, actually), the 8 weeks we'll be gone. It will reduce his paycheck but will keep him from taking unpaid time and having to pay out-of-pocket for his benefits.

What about your poor, lonely yet amazing dog?

I guess inviting my sister, Deziree, to come live with us 1.5 years ago was a good idea after all, because she's agreed to stick around an extra few weeks to be a live-in dog-sitter for us. So, that means long hours of Dez sleeping on top of her bed and Latah sleeping under it, plus random trips to visit Dobby or attend Gordan's concerts together - Latah has quite the social calender with her Auntie Dez :)

How can I help?

Great question! Since we are fully packed and ready to go for our trip, the absolute BEST WAY to help is to consider sponsoring a few miles of our trip for charity! We're doing the hard work, all you have to do is check out our "Sponsor a Mile" tab and for $1 per 1 mile, you can help us rebuild a well for a village of 150 people in Nicaragua through Living Water International. Clean water is a basic necessity that we often take for granted, and we hope our trip can be of some use helping people in need.

What is your route? Will you be on major freeways?

First of all, take a look at the "Our Routes" tab. It's a rough approximation of our planned route. We chose our route based on maps by Adventure Cycling. It's a combination of their Northern Tier and Lewis and Clark routes. The maps we bought from them are pretty amazing and to prove it to you, watch this:

We originally chose "Portland to Portland" because David thought it was clever, but we ended up decided it was the best route for us after all. We opted to travel from East to West because we're from the West and have more friends and family from Montana over, so way we'll have something to look forward to the whole time we pedal!

Another nice thing about the Adventure Cycling maps is their dedication to finding the safest roads for cyclists. Our route is fairly out-of-the-way, and most of the towns we go through have populations around 3,000-8,000. So no major freeways for us, mostly back highways with low traffic.

Where will you stay?

We're planning on 5 nights of camping and 2 nights in hotels each week. Our trailer holds everything we need to camp comfortably in developed sites but can also work in the wilderness if necessary. All our gear is designed for backpacking, so it's ultra light. The two nights in hotels will be for real showers, real beds, and doing laundry in real sinks. Hooray!

 Will you keep updating your blog?

We've got smart phones and a few ideas, but quite frankly, our route continually takes us through the piddliest little towns, so I'm not sure what our cell coverage will be like. We'll try to post pictures and brief updates 3-5 times a week, with as frequent updates to our Trip Tracker site as possible. Essentially, we're gonna make it up as we go (like we're doing with the rest of the trip!).

 Any questions I missed? Leave a comment and ask whatever is on your mind!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Across the Great Divide... Twice

Getting Ready

Last weekend we were invited on a three-day bike trip with Duane and LeAnne Parsons. Our first mistake? Not asking XDP how many mountains he planned to take us over. Our second mistake was agreeing to do anything XDP thought of as fun... period.

Day One

We camped over a nice viewpoint in the National Forest near Pagosa Springs the first night. The next morning, we got everything ready and began our ride from downtown Pagosa Springs. We knew we were in trouble when we reached the base of the mountain and the sign read "Wolf Creek Pass: 8 miles." 8 miles, a 6% uphill grade and 2 hours later, I knew exactly how many pedal strokes were in 1/100 of a mile and that the road planners had rounded down precisely 0.29 miles when they said the pass was "only" 8 miles away. We made it  and officially crossed the Continental Divide for the first time this trip. The next 20 miles of easy downhill gliding into South Fork were wonderful.

Where we're from, there are only two mountain
peaks higher than this road...
Unfortunately, by the time we were 15 miles from Creede my legs were so beat that the 1% uphill grade between us and our destination almost killed me as much as Wolf Creek Pass. A light rain had also become a minor hindrance but good training for us all the same. We arrived at Kip's in Creede for dinner after 64 miles and 5 hours of saddle time.
Stretching saves!

Day Two

After camping just outside of Creede and spending an evening streching and recovering on the edge of a cliff, we woke up on top of a cloud (camping at 10,000'+ can do that to you). That morning we biked from Creede to Lake City, where we enjoyed not only a 11,000' mountain pass, but a second crossing of the Continental Divide.

You can check out the stats from Day One or Day Two here.

Day 2 Total Elevation Gain: 4,500'

Lessons Learned

Thankfully, we survived and the trip turned out to be the perfect opportunity for us to practice our cross country skills. An empty trailer was a bit of a lighter load, but a good transition towards the eventual reality that everything we want to bring with us will be another ounce of weight holding us back.

Biking on unfamiliar roads was also good practice. I was surprised to find out that I felt safer biking on more remote roads with no shoulder than I did biking on busier highways even with decent shoulders. There's something about being unmistakably IN the road that reminds cars to move over to pass you, rather than being tempted to squeeze by so close because they think you have plenty of room in your 2 foot shoulder.

Another lesson for us was getting used to biking multiple days in a row. The soreness and fatigue seemed to compound by the second day. It also sprang up in a ton of new places, not the least of which were my triceps which couldn't help but protest at my demands that they maintain the cycling position 5 hours each day.

All in all, it was a successful trip and we're even more excited to make biking an everyday reality for us! Can't you tell how excited I am? 

Refueling at the top of Slumgullion with a PB&J

Friday, July 13, 2012

Firecracker 5k

Off with a Bang!

Cross-training this Fourth of July included a 5k in Los Alamos, the morning before we left for our three-day trip in Colorado. I had run in a while but neither had Latah, so I knew her adrenaline would be running high. She's done enough races to know that when the gun goes off, she gets to run - and this time was no exception. As an added bonus (and possibly inspired by the fact that even though she wears an anti-bark collar at home, her dad runs outside to take it off every time a siren goes off because he likes to hear her "beautiful singing voice" as she howls along with it), Latah let out a few battle howls as we took off from the starting line. It made for a rather exciting effect as many of our fellow racers reciprocated her enthusiasm with war cries of their own.

I believe this picture was snapped in between her yowling, at the beginning of the race. However, if you notice that I'm pulling her leash back with my right arm, this shot could have happened anywhere over the next 3.1 miles. I will not deny the fact that she pulled me 80% of the way, to a speedy 3rd place time of 20:36 - only 14 seconds behind the female winner. Since it's the fastest time I've had since college, I can live with that! Of course, Latah was top dog for the third year in a row.
Anyway, I apologize that this post isn't very bike-trip related. It is cross training, though, a very important part of keeping my body in balance for this trip. Besides, I never miss an opportunity to brag on my dog!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Support Clean Water... Because Starbuck Says So!

Longmire in Los Alamos

Last week was incredible. The A&E show Longmire has been filming in New Mexico for a few months and last Wednesday they came to Los Alamos. They rented the parking lot at the church where I work, so for two days we got to watch as the 100+ person crew, trucks loaded with lights, props, and clothes, and even actors came and went while shooting scenes around our town.

When we found out they were coming, I did a quick google search and found out that Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff), would be coming to my church!

While researching Longmire (I immediately watched the first 3 episodes and loved it), I discovered that Katee recently released a documentary of herself and Tricia Helfer riding their motorcycles across the country to raise awareness, support and money for the Gulf Region in response to the oil spill of April 2010.

I guess Starbuck and I have something in common!

Since David and I had recently decided to use our own bike trip across the country to raise money to rebuild a clean water well through Living Water International, I knew I had to meet Katee.

Meeting Katee

After a few attempts to find out from the crew the best way to go about meeting Katee - all the while becoming quite good friends with both security guards - I was given a time, a name, and a trailer to report to where I would be introduced to Katee before she headed to the set. Apparently, this approach was only worth a shot because I was employed at the site they were renting, and therefore not trespassing. Otherwise, you're something like a stalker and they ask you kindly to leave, lol.

Katee was way cooler in person than any of her characters. She told me about her trip with Tricia and raising $35,000 for the Gulf Region. I told her about my and David's trip and showed her our route. We talked about sit bones and spin class and tan lines and her quest to find the best crab cakes. She seemed really impressed with our cross country bike trip and our fundraiser and she signed our blog logo to help us raise money for our cause. Katee even agreed to retweet our blog to all her fans so they can support us (which might be why you're here, in which case welcome!).

And so, there you go... follow our blog and/or donate to our well project.



Because Starbuck says so!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sponsor a Mile for Clean Water!

Help Us Repair a Well in Nicaragua

We've decided to raise money and awareness for Living Water International, an organization that provides CLEAN DRINKING WATER to those in need, as we bike our way across the country!

Sponsor 1 mile for $1 and help us raise funds to repair a broken well in Nicaragua for a village of 150-200 people. Each mile you sponsor gets us further across the country towards our goal of 3000 miles and $3000.


Sponsorship Levels

  • The Century: $100. Sponsor 100 miles of our trip - a long day in the saddle for us, but 3.3% of a rebuilt well for the people of Nicaragua!
  • The Full Day: $75. Sponsor 75 miles of our trip. This is the goal mileage we have for each day of our trip. We'll be biking 40 days total so with only 40 full-day sponsors, we can completely fund the well repairs!
  • The Light Day: $50. Sponsor 50 miles of our trip, aka a single easy day, but 50 miles closer to the finish line!
  • The Victory Tuck: $25. Sponsor 25 miles of our trip, a partial day (preferably the easy, downhill half, lol). Every mile counts.
  • The Day of Rest: $15 Sponsor the days we get to recover! Don't worry, every mile counts and even the smallest donation gets us that many miles closer to 3000.

How to Sponsor

3 Ways to Give:
  • Go to our CrowdRise Site 
  • Click the "Show Your Support" box on the right, or
  • Visit the "Sponsor a Mile" tab on our blog
(Living Water International is a registered 501(c)(3). 100% of your gift is tax-deductible.)


We thank you for partnering with us in this endeavor. We pray that God will bless you for your generosity, and that the work this fundraiser makes possible will bring great joy, health, and hope to the people of Nicaragua.

What Now?

We will dedicate sections of our trip to anyone who makes a donation, based on the number of miles they sponsor. Follow our blog to watch our progress as your donations and our legs propel us across the country, and look for a shout-out in our blog as the miles you sponsor become asphalt under our treads!

Why We're Doing This 

We've chosen to benefit something that we'll be reminded of every time we down another gallon of clean drinking water while biking. We are fortunate to have easy and reliable access to clean water, and it’s easy to take for granted. Our hope by the end of this is that we will be able to help provide a well to a town in Nicaragua so the citizens get the same essential that we are privileged to have.