July 17, 2003

Gravity and wind are fickle friends

Dear Notepad Lady,

Last year about this time, I was riding with my friend, tour guru George Christensen, on the Upper Mississippi River, heading south from Minneapolis. Bungeed to the top of my Bob trailer was a collection of DeLorme Topo Atlases, one for each state we were to travel through: Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. As we rode from state to state, George picked up AAA road maps from gas stations, and we eventually got into a dueling map game, each of us interpreting the landscape according to our respective map.

I came to realize that most of the advice I got from George, including that regarding maps, was well worth taking. So for this trip I left my large scale DeLormes at home and picked up a Utah road map at the Mexican-Arab convenience store in Salt Lake City, mentioned in my first email of this trip, and I haven't regretted it. The map even had light gray contour lines of elevation interlacing the roads and interstates, an unusual feature for a motor-map, but probably not noticed by your average driver, who can gun those lines right into irrelevancy with the twitch of a big toe.

But to be truthful, I hadn't noticed them either, even by the fourth day of my trip, when I descended from Monte Cristo Campground into the oven of Ogden Valley. Otherwise, I wouldn't have headed out from Huntsville on Hwy167 toward East Canyon on that 109 degree afternoon.

I had been lulled into complacency by the recent 23-mile downhill; surely there were more downhills where that one came from, I thought. I even felt entitled to downhills, so smug was I. Hwy 167's 10 miles held no threat for me. I expected to coast into East Canyon just in time for the evening rise of the moon, which was waxing close to full.

But as I have mentioned, this part of Utah is a jumble of mountains, with ridges running every which way, popping up in unexpected places. Some of them have names. There is one called Horse Ridge. Horse Ridge is so high it has its own gray contour line on the motor-map. Hwy167 straddles that 8,300-foot Horse of a Ridge. Today I began paying attention to those little gray lines.

After biking through the Uintas and Wasatch Ranges, I have learned that the introductory slope of a Utah mountain gives little clue of the climb to come. And this one was no exception; after the first switchback a serious seven percent grade set in and didn't let up for five miles.

Gravity, like the wind, is a fickle friend; I turned my back and it changed my bike from a wing-wheeled chariot to forty pounds of dead weight which I pedaled and pushed and shoved up that shadeless desert of a road and in my heat-induced delirium found myself craving the air-conditioned comfort of a passing steel coffin. But I finally mounted the top of Horse Ridge, head high, untainted by internal combustion, where the good side of gravity kicked in and gave me a long guilt-free free-wheel down to the off-ramp community of Mountain Green.

Jim Redd
Back in Chicago

Jim Redd can be found at: http://www.cyclechicago.org/pocketmail/jimredd.php

Posted by mkrieg at 12:56 AM | Comments (459)

July 14, 2003

Jim Redd Jilted by Lover

Jim didn't make Boise in time as his break up with the Pocket Mail Lady left him too despondent to continue. Feeling betrayed he picked up a new girlfriend and they headed back to Salt Lake City together.

Salt Lake City
July 12, 2003

Pocketmail Lady Cuts Me Off!

Dear Notepad,

Evanston, Wyoming is a Union Pacific rail town turned mining town and now has reinvented itself as a tourist town. Itís got a three-block Front Street along the tracks and a Main Street with shops and galleries, but what caught my eye, on that hot afternoon after an upwind ride across the high plains was the Bear River Brew Pub which drew me in like a frog to a bog.

A couple of Oatmeal Stouts got me properly oriented to the town and all seemed fine until I tried to hook up with you, Pocketmail Lady, and discovered you had cut me off with no explanation. Was it something I said? Was it because I had ignored you the last few days? My excuse is that I was reflecting on lakes up in the Uintas Mountains and there are no payphones in the National Forests and no Sprint coverage for my cell phone either. So there, that's my excuse.

Unfazed, I made alternate arrangements: Surprise! A notepad and pencil from Wal*Mart, so I no longer need you, P.L. No more changing your batteries! No more searching for payphones in out-of-the-way places! How sensible. Why hadn't I thought of it before? I relegated you to the bottom of my right pannier along with my cell phone charger, pedal wrench and that odd-sized crescent wrench.

But just as I was reveling in my new-found Pocketmail Liberation, becoming familiar with my low-tech device at a table in a coffee shop/gallery/boutique on Main Street, I noticed a man at the next table checking his email on his 17-inch laptop. Get this, P.L.: he was catching broadband from the wind up in the high plains of Wyoming with an antenna card the size of a matchbox! I don't want to belabor this, P.L., but be forewarned. Despite your digitized human-like charm, you are flirting with obsolescence. (But will that ever be cost effective? ed)

Jim Redd

Salt Lake City
July 12, 2003

Jim Goes Postal Over Thirst!

Dear Notepad,

Leaving the Evanston, I took a turn down an alley of the Queen City, behind the Jubilee Market, and passed a group of Rainbow Gatherers turned Dumpster Foragers gathering rotten veggies. At the door, I encountered another one with a Huffy hauling a trailer with a large dog and flying a blue planet earth flag the size of a mainsail. Dreaded and beaded, he asked me to watch his rig while he went inside to score some day-old bread. When he returned, he told me he was working on a government grant to study ethnomusicology in the Himalayas. I wished him well and was on my way toward Woodruff, where I planned to re-water myself before the 3,000 ft climb to Monte Cristo Campground 20 miles west in the Wasatch Range.

Sucking air from my Camelback, imagine my surprise when I saw the faded sign creaking in the hot wind and boarded up windows of the only store in Woodruff. And beyond lay only Wilderness, foreboding in its lack of services. I circled the crossroads in despair. The only other thing blowing in the wind was an American flag, one of many I had seen on the Patriotic weekend just passed.

But wait! Below the flag, through the sweat pooling in my eyes I could make out the large numerals 84087. It was the most welcome zip code I had ever seen. Inside was a counter and behind the counter sat the lone keeper of 84087 and behind her was a water fountain! I engaged her in small talk first, asking her jokingly, "Any mail for me?" And while she was laughing I gestured toward the water fountain holding up my empty water bottle. This was the decisive moment. I could only imagine what the U.S. Postal Service Rulebook might have to say about letting private citizens loose in the mailroom.

Never underestimate the power of humor, notepad, especially when you are dead serious. Bottles and camelback filled to overflowing with U.S. Government water, on my way out of town I saluted the flag for the first time since my Navy days.

Jim Redd

Posted by mkrieg at 12:20 PM | Comments (18304)

July 10, 2003

Olympian at Boise NBG Day - Chicago Jim Trapped in Wyoming

The call of adventure, as you will see, has stranded the amazing Jim Redd in Wyoming hundreds of miles away from Boise. Too far to make up in the time left for him to be there for our July 11 reception. But I did hear from Rocky Brown today and he will be there to take the torch to Portland. And Lynn Shrum, NBG fan and the Boise Mayor's scheduler, put the hard charging Sam Harmer, the Special Assistant to the Mayor, in charge of sending Rocky off. And talk about fire, the two of them got councilman, Alan Shealy , to preside over the festivities. Alan is a two time Olympian and former world champion in rowing. With all this excitement in mind, Sam sent the following to all the bike and media people in Boise:


July 10, 2003 384-4401

Boise – Bicycle relay riders traveling from Washington, D.C. to Santa Cruz, Calif., will be greeted by Boise City Council Member Alan Shealy in front of Boise City Hall at noon Friday, July 11. The bicyclists are meeting with elected officials in major U.S. cities to promote the National Bicycle Greenway, a nationwide network of bike-friendly roads connecting cyclists to major cities throughout the United States.

Local bicycling groups and Boise Police Department bicycle units will attend the conference to support bike-friendly roads.

Bicyclist Jim Redd will complete his 338-mile ride from Salt Lake City to Boise on Friday morning and “pass the baton” to rider Rocky Brown. To conclude the conference, the crowd will send off Brown on his 429-mile trek to Portland. The promotional cross-country ride began on May 2 in Washington, D.C. and ends on Aug. 17 in Santa Cruz, California.

For more information, please call Sam Harmer in the Boise Mayor’s Office at 384-4401 or visit the National Bicycle Greenway website at www.nationalbicyclegreenway.com.

And do fasten you seatbelts for more powerful writing from Jim Redd:

**Gravity's slingshot**
Evanston, Wyoming
July 9, 2003

Dear Pocketmail Lady,

Three days ago I deposited four thousand feet in the bank and this morning I made the withdrawal!

The first 30 minutes from Mirror Lake Campground was an amazing freewheel over a carpet of birch tree shadows cast by the morning sun, their backlit leaves, trembling in the morning breeze, looked like living lace. I could sense the darks and lights washing across my face as my speed hit 35 and I thought gravity's slingshot would send me clear to Wyoming but it only got me to the Bear River Lodge where the spell cast over me by the wilderness was snapped by a TV voice talking about a mass killing in Meridian and the expansion of the American Empire into Liberia. I took a table in the corner and faced the wall to preserve the spell but the reportage was incessant and I wanted to retreat into the wilderness.

I replayed that first 30 minutes the rest of the day because I soon discovered I had withdrawn almost all of my deposit; the road flattened with a slight downward tilt which was cancelled out much of the time by head and cross winds. But as the curves in the road presented various aspects to the wind I discovered a new feature of my Burley jacket. I could hold the edges out like a sail when the wind was anywhere behind me and get an extra mph or so. Warning: don't try this at home because you will notice your hands must be off the handlebars!

When I hit Wyoming, the green salad of spruce and hemlock I had savored in the mountains became a sage and sand pizza hot from the oven with a topping of cows like black olives. Unfortunately I was not in the mood for pizza.

Every state needs a town in its southwest corner and Evanston is Wyoming's. It was defended by a strong headwind which caused me to drink the last of the glacial meltwater I had made into fist-sized ice cubes up on Bald Mountain and dropped into my camelback. I could have been drinking 25 million year old ice, for all I knew, which gave me something to think about as I approached the self-described "Queen City" of Wyoming.

Jim on the Road
Evanston, Wyoming

Local access to PocketMail mobile
e-mail now available in Europe, North
America & Australia http://www.pocketmail.com

Jim Redd can be found at: http://www.cyclechicago.org/pocketmail/jimredd.php
His email on the road is: reddude@pocketmail.com

Posted by mkrieg at 11:30 PM | Comments (34)

July 09, 2003

Jim Redd's 12,00 ft Bicycle Masterpiece

Being a a fairly much published author myself, I find great joy in being able to share the following words with you. So far behind schedule that I don't know if he is going to make the Boise reception on time, Jim Redd is still having the time of his life out there in the mountains of southeastern Idaho. And he is able to communicate his enchanting experience with some pretty powerful writing -- done so on a device that is a wee bit bigger your palm. Yahoo Jim:

Leaning against a snowbank cooling my camelback
July 7, 2003
Uintas Mountains, Utah
Dear Pocketmail lady,

It was worth the 2,000 ft hike up just to get this far from the nearest RV.

Do you remember those patches of snow on Bald Mountain I described in my last letter? Well, believe it or not, I'm sitting on a rock in the sun at the 12,000 ft level leaning against one of them. It stretches about 100 yards on either side of me along the mountain and 50 ft or so above me. It is melting fast, feeding those gurgling streams I've enjoyed on the way up. Below me is a sheer 500 ft drop to a rock field. I have heard of snow slides in the mountains, have you? I thought of moving away for safety, but then I'm 61 years old and if this snowbank goes while I'm sitting here, it was meant to be. There are worse ways and less beautiful places to become one with the earth.

My bicycle would be found at the trailhead, and when the snow melted my mangled remains would be discovered on the rocks. Among my possessions would be this Pocketmail device with this letter intact. "Altitude-Crazed Biker-Hiker Predicts Own Death!" On the other hand, if the snowbank doesn't go, despite my taunting, I will interpret it as a mandate that my life can be justified in some cosmic sense, and I have divine permission to continue stumbling through as before.

Sorry for the self-indulgent philosophy, P.L. -- it must be the rarefied air. Or maybe the silence of the mountaintop (except for the whine of the wind), or the indescribable panorama of mountains, lakes, forest and sky spread before me.

While I'm in this mood, I need to give credit where it is due. It may appear, Pocketmail Lady, that this journal is all about Jim. Well, that's because Jim is the only one here right now, ok? But let's get this straight, P.L.: **No one goes to the mountaintop alone**

First and forever there's Marshia. I need say no more.

Without my friends in the Chicago biking community, an amazing source of inspiration and information, I would not have the confidence for these human-powered adventures, so eccentric in the eyes of the world.

And then there's the bicycle itself, an amazing invention which "takes me places I didn't even know I wanted to go, and shows me things I didn't know I wanted to see," to quote a woman whose name I forget right now, but I do know she biked alone across Mongolia. This miracle of appropriate technology has just brought me 7,000 ft above Salt Lake City in 3 days on a hot dog and sour cream chips, a pastrami sandwich, a plate of pasta and chicken, 3 apples, 2 peaches, 2 nectarines, a bag of freeze-dried organic cereal, 2 eggs and sausage, one banana, one bag of peanuts, and, lest I deny my dependence on the oil industry: 23 drops of T9 chain lube. Bicycle, I love you!

And lurking somewhere back there are Barry Lopez, Edward Abbey, and John McPhee, giant literary loaves from whom I have gathered a few crumbs. {Would someone please submit that one for the Worst Metaphor of the Year Award? Thank you.)

But wait! Here comes a more appropriate one: Granite mountains of men from whose valleys I have gathered a few pebbles. Yes, that's better.

Jim on the Road
"You can never own a mountain, but once you have bicycled up one, you at least feel like you've earned a few shares of stock."

Subject: Mirror Lake, in reverse.

Pocketmail Lady, I don't know where you are, or even if you are. I do know that others eavesdropping on our conversations are sitting in front of a computer, at work, probably. They are in the middle of a project, or writing a report, or doing a budget. Jim's ramblings from somewhere out in Utah are abstractions, to say the least, subject headings alighting in their inboxes uninvited. So there is no way I can even come close to communicating what I see right now on this little Pocketmail device, but I'll send a frame and maybe they can fill it in.

From where I am standing, on this rock, I can see probably 100 miles in every direction! I see layer after layer of mountain ranges, disappearing in a pale blue wash. Below me are alpine lakes swathed in pine trees, including Mirror Lake itself; I can see the spot where I sat this morning with my coffee writing about this mountain, the lake itself now the size of that coffee cup. Cloud shadows move across the valleys like ancient landforms. The nearest mountains, to the east, are almost treeless, like this one, and are spotted with bright patches of snow.

Closer, around me, are scattered uncountable stones, many untouched by human hands and hosting lichens which add their blues and greens to the purple alpine wild flowers tucked in among them, and blend harmoniously in the near distance, where the jagged rocks slash the sky. The entire scene is bathed in stark sunlight of such clarity it engraves the stones directly on your retina.

I have biked many places, from Big Sur to the mountains of northern New Mexico to the South Americn Andes, and believe me when I say I have never witnessed such natural beauty.

Ok? Enough? Got the outline? Fill it in with all those calendar photos you have seen of pristine mountain landscapes and you got it. Now get back to work!

Jim on the Road
Uintas Mountains, Utah


Wasatch National Forest, Utah
July 8, 2003

Dear Pocketmail Lady,
A second morning I sit in awe of the beauty of this place (with my cup of coffee, of course). Since I'm without a camera, I will try to draw you in, also, with a picture of words.

I'm facing west across the lake. My shore is still in shadow but the other side, lined with old growth spruce, is in full sunlight. Above the serrated treetops rises the smooth form of Bald Mountain, arching across the cloudless sky. I can almost reach out and touch its perfect reflection in the lake, a few feet from where I sit. A fish breaks the surface, and then another, and the summit explodes in concentric, interlocking rings of color, which soon ripple on the rocks near my feet.

A breeze skims the lake surface, and breaks the mountain colors into different shapes. Now the edges are jagged, alive with movement. Pieces of the mountain, some with the whites of snowpatches, some with the greens of juniper, drift out into the watercolor blue of the sky. And they, top, ripple on the rocks at my feet.

There now, there's the cameraless picture. Can you see it?

Now the sun is limning my side of the lake. I am fully saturated. I can leave now.

Jim on the Road
Next: Heading to Boise. But first, a 20-mile freewheel into Wyoming. Yee Haa!

Camera-Free at Mirror Lake

Local access to PocketMail mobile
e-mail now available in Europe, North
America & Australia http://www.pocketmail.com

Jim Redd can be found at: http://www.cyclechicago.org/pocketmail/jimredd.php
His email on the road is: reddude@pocketmail.com

Posted by mkrieg at 10:57 PM | Comments (44)

July 08, 2003

Jim Redd Makes Utah Sound Like Heaven

What you are about to see is some pretty spectacular writing. In it Jim Redd a Chicago city dweller, takes a Utah most of us think of as being hot and dry this time of year and turns it into a virtual paradise. And do be prepared to laugh, especially when you think about the the fact that the Pocket Mail lady in whom he confides is about the size of a check book:

**The Soapstone Cutoff Debacle**

I biked 15 miles uphill today, then turned around and freewheeled 15 miles down. As you may suspect, Pocketmail Lady, downhill is better.

But let me back up and tell you what I'm doing out here in Utah on a bike, anyway. Do you remember when we first met? How could you forget? It was at a campground two days ride due west of Chicago, I forget the name but it was the one with the campground dog that terrorized the guests one by one and when my turn came stuck his snarly snout in my tent and got a head-slam with a rolled up deLorme atlas. When that event occurred I was riding the Chicago-DesMoines leg of a national relay promoting a National Bicycle Greenway.

Well, I'm in Utah for the same reason: that's where Salt Lake City is, and I'm supposed to get to Boise by the 11th to receive a proclamation from da mare and get my picture taken for riding 400 miles across the desert. But it's for a good cause...

I re-read my last letter to you, about my arrival into Salt Lake City, and I apologize, Pocketmail Lady, for its dark tone. But my disposition can be excused by having spent 10 hours in the clutches of the airline industry. But I've recovered now, and ready to look on the brighter side of things.

And wouldn't you know it? The next day did dawn bright and clear and those foreboding streets of the night before were now filled with happy SLC citizens escaping the city in their motor vehicles, determined to have some fun somewhere else on the Fourth of July weekend. I rode to Lisa Romney's (of da mares office) to pick up the Pocktmail device (for where would our relationship be without it, P.L.?). (And thanks, Lisa, for getting it for me. Sorry we didn't get to meet in person).

It was now time for me to get on the road for Boise. But what route? None looked very promising. Luckily, Stephen, the owner of Liberty Heights Fresh Market at 1100 E and 1300 S pointed me toward Immigration Canyon which has historical as well as scenic value and is virtually car-free, besides. (BTW, could someone Google that market? I'd like to send him email. His organic fruits were delicious and got me well on down the road).

Or up the road, in this case. Immigration Canyon, he neglected to mention was a 9-mile uphill, but I made it my Emmigration Canyon anyway and passed the time by chatting with a couple other cyclists heading up. One was a teenage girl on a Huffy who gave me directions but said she wouldn't be able to keep up with me because she had asthma. I admitted to her my half-pack a day Pall Mall habit and maybe that made us even. She wasn't amused. "But I don't deserve it," she said. I'd obviously made a mistake and was obliged to reflect on my insensitivity for the next mile or so.

The descent from Emmigration Summit led directly to Interstate 80 which I had no choice but to take. After 15 miles or so, it dumped me off at an upscale "Main Street" district of a winter ski resort. I came here looking for a bike shop open on July 4 to get toe clips which I had forgotten in Chicago. Cute and quaint "Main Street" developments, as you probably know, Pocketmail Lady, offer ample opportunity to spend lots of money, so I got out fast and headed toward Jordanelle campground, which involved an unpleasant intrusion onto US40, which is really a freeway by any other name.

I made myself at home in the so-called "primitive" area of the campground which means you have to walk a few yards from your RV to set up camp. I had a tall boy and a Pall Mall overlooking the lake and pitched my Eureka! for the evening on the concrete slab provided.

The next morning, after a screaming 5-mile downhill on the shoulder of US40, I turned north heading for Boise. But at a roadside country store I heard of the Rainbow Gathering taking place this very weekend up in the Wasatch National Forest. Being an old hippy myself, my curiosity got the better of me and the store clerk was more than happy to direct me to a dirt road shortcut which would get me on track for Wasatch: the "Soapstone turnoff" which he assured me was a pristine pathway through the forest.

With the vision of this idyllic dirt ride in mind, I rode 15 miles, mostly uphill, to the turnoff, which looked ok until I started riding it.

The first thing I noticed was that the "dirt" had the consistency of volcanic ash, sucking my tires in like sand. It was all uphill but the granny gear was of little use; it just made the tires sink deeper. I heard the distant buzzing of mutant four-wheeled insects and a swarm of them soon rounded a bend, pulverizing the dirt into volcanic dust and leaving me eating a fair amount of it. I had entered the dreaded ATV Zone, which I was soon to discover extends throughout the National Forests.

After an hour pushing and pedalling I took a nap near a large herd of sheep and when I awoke my path was clear: I must give up this misguided dirt road endeavor, admit failure, and go back to where I had started from. It was an exhilarating 15-mile downhill passing alpine meadows of golden flowers and watching the evening unfold as shadows moved at glacial speed across sheer walls of granite.

Yes, Pocktmail Lady, downhill is better, as I mentioned, so the half day chasing the Soapsone Cutoff was salvaged somewhat after all.

The lesson here, of course, is to use discretion in following anecdotal route suggestions from strangers no matter how well-intentioned. Their judgements are likely impaired by a severe case of car-think.

Jim on the Road

Next: The Bald Mountain Pass challenge and the search for the Rainbow Gathering on the way to Boise.

**Rethinking the Rainbow Gathering**
Dear Pocketmail Lady,

The town of Kamas seemed much as I had left it six hours before, on my ill-fated search for the Soapstone Cutoff, except the clerk who sent me there was no longer on duty at the country store and was thus spared my wrath. But that episode was behind and now nightfall was closing in with nowhere to camp.

As I was examining my maps and rethinking my options in front of a candy and pastry shoppe, I was approached by two couples, all four clutching various candies. The husbands both wore tie-died t-shirts and the wives had "Save the planet" and other buttons stuck all over the place and wore beads. They were, sadly, in my age group, and one of the wives asked if I had been to the Rainbow Gathering. I said I was looking for it and she gave me driving directions, saying they were headed back to Florida. They had driven from Florida to Utah to save the planet, and spoke in tones of 60s idealism. Get over it! I screamed silently.

After this episode my zeal to locate the Gathering diminished and became less the next day as I encountered more refugees driving their clanking and sputtering vehicles out of the mountains. But the aging hippies from Florida did remind me that you can camp anywhere in the National Forest, so I got some supplies and that's where I headed, and camped for the night near a stream just inside the Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

Jim on the road.
P.S. to my family: Who's the smart-butt who switched my bottle of camp soap for Jojoba oil?

July 7, 2003
**Cameraless at Mirror Lake**
Dear Pocketmail Lady,

Mirror Lake shimmers in the early alpine sunlight. But the light won't touch the lake for another 20 minutes; it is reflected from Bald Mountain rising twenty-five hundred feet above the pines beyond. Its earth-tone face is mottled with sparse green patches of vegetation, and equally with whites of snow. It arches smoothly across the blue of the sky -- itself with patches of clouds mirroring those of snow on the mountains -- forming an almost perfect parabola.

As I sit on this rock drinking coffee at the 10,000 ft level in the Wasatch Mountains, the sun, rising behind me, begins to paint the pines a lighter shade of green on the opposite shore and the lake surface becomes a rippling pastel.

The Uintas is the longest east-west mountain range in North America and is the headwaters of the Bear, Weber, Duschesne and Provo Rivers. I followed tributaries of the Provo yesterday on my way up from Kamas, an elevation gain of 4,200 ft in 30 miles.

After my disillusionment with the search for the Valhalla of the Rainbows, the trip shaped itself into an assault, so to speak, on the summit of the Uintas Mountains. I had never biked to 11,000 ft, and that was reason enough.

The grade began modestly enough, with occasional brief downhills. The road was smooth 2-lane blacktop with a 2 or 3 ft shoulder. Traffic fairly heavy, it being the Fourth of July weekend, but mostly kept its distance. There was even a tailwind.

As I climbed, the deciduous forests gave way to coniferous, and the tailwind became cooler. Not so bad, I thought, still pedaling on the middle ring. But a couple of hours up I saw a message someone had scrawled in white paint on the road: "Scott, 75 miles to the summit. Here is where the climb really begins." Looking up from that foreboding message to Scott, whoever he is, I saw the peak of Bald Mountain with its patches of snow.

And here is where I switched to the granny gear and that's where the chain stayed for the next 20 miles.

But the overwhelming beauty of the landscape distracted me from fatigue. I stopped to rest every couple of miles, covered my face with my red bandana, soaked in the cool cascade of the Provo. Lay face up to the sun 'til it dried.

Back on the road, I established a comfortable pedaling pace, sustained by peanut fuel from my handlebar bag, George Christensen style. I supplemented this with a banana I bummed from a tourist at the Provo Falls overlook. He said he had never seen a cyclist this far up (which got me to thinking how many have done it? If any of you know of anyone who has cycle-toured, fully-loaded up the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway in Utah, shoot me an email.)

The scenery got more astounding with each switchback, passing calendar-photo alpine lakes. And I swear, when the road peaked out at the Bald Mountain overlook, rolled over and descended toward Mirror Lake campground I was almost disappointed the climb was over. I felt like I could pedal forever.

My coffee is cold now, and there is a dead mosquito floating in the cup. The entire lake is illuminated with the sun, and the blue-green pastel of its surface is now fringed with gold where it meets the pines. The clouds have disappeared and Bald Mountain is a swath of textured russet carved from the sky.

Jim on the Road
Mirror Lake Campground
Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Utah

Local access to PocketMail mobile
e-mail now available in Europe, North
America & Australia http://www.pocketmail.com

Jim Redd can be found at: http://www.cyclechicago.org/pocketmail/jimredd.php
His email on the road is: reddude@pocketmail.com

Posted by mkrieg at 09:28 PM | Comments (51)

July 05, 2003

Jim Redd's Back -- in "The City of Broken Things"

Here are some FUN words from Pocket Mail celebrity, Jim Redd, another Giant of a Man who, like Jim Muellner, does not know limits. Jim resuscitated last year's Mayors Ride after an inattentive motorist nearly killed Andrew Heckman http://webpages.charter.net/200a/AndrewHeckman2.htm who was on his way from Chicago to Des Moines. Jim's stories filled our mail box with praise for the fun he was bringing to reader's desktops after the great sadness that Andrew's tragedy had caused the international two wheel on line community.

A hugely well liked man of many talents, Jim was a key player, with Jody Fitch and another NBG Mayors Ride celebrity, Andrew Morton, in the creation of our cutting edge web site NationalBicycleGreenway.com. Intoxicated with all things bicycle. Jim is one of the driving forces behind the Chicago Critical Mass http://chicagocriticalmass.org. He also runs a restaurant with a Car Free focus in Chicago called The Handelbar http://www.handlebarchicago.com as well as Tread Lightly Tours http://www.treadlightlytours.com , a bicycle touring company that tours Ecuador as it teaches it's guests the beauty of a simple lifestyle. What's more, his slide show of his recent Hwy 1 tour http://www.cyclechicago.org/pocketmail/gallery/pchgallery.php has brought interest from people and companies wanting to use his photos from all over the US.

This is huge news people. And it is great writing:

Dear Pocketmail Lady,

Hello, P.L., remember me? Yep. It's Jim again, on the road. Haven't heard that comforting "press the Pocketmail button" since the Big Sur trip back in December. And I must admit, P.L., you can still press my button any time. But enough of the introductory pleasantries. Let's get to the trip at hand.

After being held hostage by the airline industry and its various security forces for most of the day, I was finally allowed to escape at the SLC compound -- otherwise known as the Salt Lake City airport around 11 PM. I quickly slunk into the city proper under the cover of darkness clinging to the shoulder of Interstate 80 like an alley rat.

A city does not show its best face to a lone cyclist entering her precincts in the wee hours. Asphalt streets wide in their desolation. Surly motel clerks. Bored teenagers and drunken idlers loitering in convenience store parking lots. Broken dreams, broken things.

My first hint was when two teenage girls from Moab, drinking beer and rolling their own on the steps at the guest entry of the Motel 6, had to open the door for me and my bike because my key card didn't work in the little slot. Neither did it work at the door labeled 227. The late night desk person said she was sorry and zapped me another one, not once taking her eyes off the Jerry Springer show blaring from across the lobby.

The next incident came at the nearby Denny's where I had gone to supplement my day's diet of airplane food. After seating me, the host, frazzled by the crowds of pre-July 4th revelers demanding service, informed me there would be a small delay because, of all things, the **restaurant computer was broken**!

Being of short patience that late in the day, I tried the Mexican place across the street, but it was closed. Back at the motel, I located a convenience store with a Mexican name run by an Arab who spoke neither Spanish nor English across the street. By this time a hot dog, rolling endlessly in that heated glass box, a bag of sour cream chips and a coke would do me fine but while I was waiting to pay the Arab-Mexican for this somewhat ad-hoc meal, he ran out the door as if in pursuit of a shoplifter. When he returned, I discovered that he was having to tend the gas pumps for the impatient motorists because **the pumps were broken!**

Jesus, is this the City of Broken Things? I asked myself rhetorically.

I took my heat-rolled hotdog and its side dish in a flimsy cardboard container across the street to the motel and finished it off sitting at tire level on a curb in the parking lot.

Jim Redd on the Road
Written in Jordanelle Campground
off highway 40
Near Park City Mountain Resort
Next: Nine mile uphill through Immigration Canyon

Jim Redd can be found at: http://www.cyclechicago.org/pocketmail/jimredd.php
His email on the road is: reddude@pocketmail.com

Posted by mkrieg at 08:14 PM | Comments (12)