This is Don writing, as Faye is vacationing this week. I’ve enjoyed her writing style and it was sure nice to ramble on about what I was doing and have it put into words! I last spoke with her in Union Station once I reached Washington DC. I was sitting on the floor under skylights where my cellphone worked and there was an electrical outlet nearby. The C&O Towpath was mostly in the shade - good for keeping cool but not for charging the cellphone with the solar panel.
When we finished talking I carried my two bags and walked out of Union Station. The last time I was in DC was also on a train trip but with my family 13 years ago, so this area held memories. I walked to the Capitol through park-lined streets and past concrete security barricades to the west side between the Capitol and the Washington monument. I snacked on water, a peanut butter sandwich, and a deformed Snickers bar which had made the entire trip. A police officer came by and we talked about my ride. He also asked about what was in my two heavy bags, noticing how they were difficult to carry (wonder what he would have thought of the whole 140-pound bike and gear!).
I walked back to Union Station and had a full lunch along with three glasses of lemonade and water. Even though I wasn’t riding, I still needed water!
Before boarding the train, I heard an announcement that a storm was passing through the area, advising passengers to wait inside until the train arrived. On this entire trip I was never caught in bad weather, and the storm ended before I boarded the Capitol Limited train.
The train started out following the C&O Towpath on its way to Cumberland. I noticed how narrow the trail was and the steep dropoffs on one side to the canal and the other to the Potomac River, and was glad I hadn’t continued riding on it through the night.
I slept that night in three different places. The next coach car was almost entirely empty. I checked with an employee who said it was okay to go there. I went and situated myself on the floor underneath some of the seats and was starting to sleep when the conductor came by with a flashlight and said that I couldn’t be there. I went back to my seat but it was not as comfortable so I went to the lounge car and lay on the floor until around 2 when someone came by announcing that the lounge car was closing. So, back to my seat where I slept the rest of Wednesday night.
I like train travel, where you can walk around and have time and space to meet people. Among others I met Jan and Peggy and Yvette. Peggy was moving with her two girls from North Carolina to Washington.
Yvette was from New York and her daughter had become friends with Peggy’s girls. The three girls entertained us singing and clapping complicated songs. Jan was from Chicago and offered to give us a quick tour of the city. Unfortunately the train was late arriving so we did well getting Chicago Hot Dogs at Union Station with the help of a Smarte Carte and thoughts of Jim Muellner http://www.bikeroute.com/NationalMayorsRide/JimMuellner , their inventor, who made the bike ride across the country last year in the opposite direction.
It was a zoo boarding the California Zephyr in Chicago, but eventually I was on and found a seat by Cheryl. This was her first ride on a train, and we talked about many things the next two days.
Unfortunately we also had a thief aboard the train who took Cheryl’s purses, along two others, which put a crimp in their travel.
The train was all non-smoking but shortly after leaving Chicago there was evidence someone had lit up. After it was announced that whomever was caught smoking would be thrown off the train, there were no more problems.
The trip from Chicago lasted two days (and nights). I slept most of the night in my seat, and left early in the mornings and went back to the lounge car and slept on the floor and then watched the sunrise. My cellphone worked when the train was in urban areas, the lounge car had electrical outlets, so I had a relaxing time using the computer, talking on the phone, and videoing the scenery we went through.
Again, I met many interesting people. "Donkey" had been a millstone dresser, keeping the surface of a millstone smooth. Robert was a retired physician, on the last part of an extended train trip across the country and planned to rendezvous with his wife in Martinez, CA and daughter in southern California. Years ago he and his wife had spent a year on an atoll in the South Pacific, she studying the culture and he being their physician. He had many interesting perspectives.
The train spent a lot of time waiting for freight trains and was 8 hours behind schedule when it arrived at Emeryville (across the bay from San Francisco) around 1 am Sunday morning. My brother Jim, the man who forwarded my messages to my list, picked me up. I went to my apartment, and the trip was over. My shaver was a victim of the weight triage and I haven’t shaved for two months and am keeping it that way for a few more days, and every time I attempt to eat the need to shave reminds of being on the trip.
Looking back on it, the whole trip was a wonderful experience. When asked which was the best, I can name some times, but as I think, more comes to mind until I realize that the whole time was the best. Many things came together to make it happen. I thought about the components of the asphalt or concrete which gave me a surface to ride on. I thought of the progression of transportation from vehicles pulled by animals to cars, trucks, planes, trains, and bicycles. I made general plans for the ride but was open to how the details would fall into place and they did in ways exceeding what I could have planned, like the Proverb that the mind of man plans his way but the Lord directs his steps.
I am thankful for everything that came together for me. Time from my employer to make this trip. Friends offering advice and items for the trip and support. I returned with the good luck chocolate pig from Germany, which now has a shape similar to the Snickers bar. I was never alone and felt the presence of Spirit and the enthusiasm of friends, whether riding up steep hills and mountains with all the power my body could produce, or sleeping peacefully in the desert under the sun or stars.
This was also a time of transition. While on this trip my marriage officially ended after thirty two years, and I had a lot of time to reflect on those years and am thankful for them. If not for how they led to the way things are now, I would not have taken this trip.
In Colorado I met my niece, Jennifer Nichols, and her family. She is the top US female archer and tonight (Tuesday) she is in Athens at the Olympics and will compete against the top woman archer from Korea. She and her family enjoyed riding my bike and we talked about taking a bike trip together. I wish her well. She, as many others I met, are beautiful as they live their dreams, and it doesn’t matter how well they do.
Thanks to all,
Don's still out there pounding for the NBG as he heads for his end zone in Washington DC where NBG Sponsor Larry Black of College Park and Mt Airy Bicycles plans to get him all boxed up for his plane trip back home here in the SF Bay Area. Faye Saunders has also been hard at work keeping up with Don and then dialing in the words that I offer here. WoW:
Once again, the weather gods are watching out for Don. When he arrived in Van Wert, Ohio, they had experienced three inches of rain each day for the two days prior to his arrival. The next day he rode to Delphos, Ohio, where he stopped at a restaurant for breakfast. After talking with a fellow there named John about his bike ride, Don discovered after John had left that he had paid Don's tab for him.
Shortly after leaving the restaurant, a Delphos Herald reporter pulled up next to him in her car and invited Don to her office to take a report and some pictures for the local newspaper. Don's brother, James, found the article with a great picture of Don at
There is an old US Hwy 30 that runs parallel to the new Hwy 30 that Don has been riding on. He decided to use the less traveled old US 30 until, seeing on his map that it would soon end, got back on the new Hwy 30. He was pulled over by a highway patrolman, and asked to show his identification and provide his social security number because, he was told, bicycles were not allowed on Hwy 30. Don pointed out to the officer that there were no signs on the road indicating that bicycles were not allowed, and when the officer radioed in to headquarters he found that Don was correct. The officer advised Don to use the old highway 30 anyway, since it did go on for quite a while and would be a safer road to bike. Eventually, though, the two highways merged and Don found himself on a major thoroughfare with no shoulder and large trucks going by without enough room to pass. He had to ride along watching his rear view mirror and pull off the dangerous road to let the traffic go by him. When the day was done, Don had arrived safely at a very nice campsite in Oceola, Ohio, to the sound of distant thunder.
While having breakfast in Gallon the next morning, the sky was filled with large ominous dark clouds. A woman advised Don to go to the Hawkins Grocery store because it has a large overhang where he and his bike could stay dry. As soon as he got there, a large thunderstorm struck the area. While waiting out the rain, he enjoyed the deli fare from the store along with a large basket of blueberries which he had been craving. This also gave him the opportunity to work on the low gear of his bike which had been giving him trouble in anticipation of the hills he would be climbing in Pennsylvania.
He arrived in Berlin, Ohio, after dark, to find that the campground there was for RV's only. He looked into camping in the school soccer field, but it was too wet. When he arrived at the motel in town, the guy in front of him got the last room. Running out of options, he stopped at a gas station to inquire about a place to spend the night.
The gas station clerk told Don he could camp at his family's barn just down the street. Don upset a flock of pigeons with his arrival, leaned his bike up against the silo and set up his tent for the nightSS.finally!
The morning was once again very wet with fog and dew. The pigeons, who had been roosting in the silo all night, had covered Don's bike with their droppings. He got out of there fast and later cleaned up his bike as much as he could, but there is still some evidence of the pigeons. He followed the smells of breakfast to a nice restaurant where he had ham and eggs with whole wheat pancakes.
The Amish in this area have built shoulders on the sides of the roads in order to accommodate their buggies, making it very bike friendly.
At a grocery store in Annapolis, Ohio, a grocery store clerk told Don that the tap water in that area is not good for drinking, and, in addition to giving Don two sandwiches for the price of one, she also included some bottled water for no charge. Later that day, a man named Richard invited Don to stay at his house. Richard and his wife, Judy, live on 20 acres and have a 7 month old puppy, 3 cats and 4 cows. This also provided Don with the opportunity to change the front tire of his bicycle which was beginning to show signs of wear. He slept in a spare bedroom with the windows open despite the cool nighttime temperature of 50 degrees.
The next morning, Don was introduced to the cows by name. "Sirloin" will meet his fate and will be in their food freezer for the winter.
There was a large pond on their property that the puppy liked to fetch things from and, at 70 pounds, he would land in the pond with a very large splash.
As Don crossed the Ohio River into West Virginia, he was glad he had the new front tire while riding over the wire steel mesh bridge. He passed by large power plants and steel mills bellowing clouds of smoke and steam into the air. When he stopped at a grocery store for a drink in Washington, PA, he learned that it is known as "little Washington" to differentiate it from nearby Washington DC. The hills here are a little more difficult than what he had become accustomed to while crossing the Midwest.
It was getting dark as Don rolled into Beallsville, PA, where on the road ahead, he could see the lights of police cars and fire trucks. He arrived at the scene of a drunk driver having crashed into a family in a minivan. At the accident scene, he met a 12 year old boy named Justin who invited Don to camp at his grandfather's house. The house was a historic landmark built in 1850 with beautiful old hardwood floors and walls decorated with stenciling. After filling himself with two huge slices of lasagne and iced tea, he set up his tent in the backyard and took a shower in the basement of the home. The shower took up the entire basement with the shower head mounted directly on the stone wall with a wooden pallet to stand on and was wide open with no walls or shower curtains.
The next morning, Justin and his friend Gavin escorted Don to the next town. Don is once again traveling on the same Hwy 40 that he rode in Colorado, except here it is known as the Pike Highway and has many historic places along the road. People had been warning him about a very big climb after Uniontown as he crosses the Appalachians, however, it turned out to be only a 1,200 foot climb - a piece of cake after crossing the Rockies. He also keeps hearing about a bike trail from Uniontown, PA, to Washington DC which some have said is still being worked on and others have told him is complete. Since he is now under a time crunch, he has decided to stay on Hwy 40, which has been great most of the time, although the shoulder has shrunk to 12" in some places.
Everywhere he goes, Don tells the people he meets about the NBG and bikeroute.com.
Last night Don called me from a campsite in Farmington, PA, where he not only has electricity at his site, but I could hear a live band playing in the background and he planned to join the dancers once our conversation was over. We were interrupted more than once by people stopping by to say hello, give him food and drinks, and invite him to visit their campsite when he is done with his call. It really sounds as fun as he keeps telling me it is!
Don says, "I'm gonna miss this. It doesn't seem like that long ago that I was trying to make it to Davis, California. I'm having a great time. I could do this for another 9 weeks - just take another route back to California."
Sat July 24
While crossing eastern Iowa, Don biked through the historic Amana Colonies located in the rolling hills of Iowa’s River Valley. The colonies were settled before the Civil War by a group of German-speaking European settlers who belonged to a religious group known as the Community of True Inspiration. This was one of the longest lasting communal societies in the world. In the town of Amana the road turned into gravel and was in his words, “a very back road” and it felt as if he were viewing the countryside from way off the road. The weather has changed quite a bit, ranging from the 50’s at night to the 80’s during the day.
He had a chance to visit the parents of a friend in Iowa City that he was supposed to have spent the night with a few nights ago. Don enjoyed the raspberry rhubarb pie made with fruits harvested from their garden.
Biking into Tipton, the owner of the Dairy Queen bought Don's meal because Don was doing what the restaurant proprietor had wished he could do. And as he was leaving, Don met a man named Dick who, like so many others Don has met in this area, had ridden RAGBRAI. Somewhat familiar with Don's needs as a result, Dick recommended that Don camp at his granddad's memorial park, called affectionately, the Wally Wingert Memorial Park. Dick also called the local newspaper resulting in an article in the "Tipton Conservative" about Don's ride for the NBG. As a fitting end to a perfect day, when Don did fall asleep, it was to the sounds of crickets and frogs.
By the time he woke up the next morning, however, the sound of cows chewing their cud just outside of his tent seemed to warn what was ahead. A persistent head wind blew against him most of the day, making the biking a little more challenging. Perpetual optimist that he is, however, Don says the wind does does feel nice and cool.
He rode for a while on the Hoover Highway, named after the former president Herbert Hoover who was born in Iowa. After having breakfast in Lowden, Don enjoyed Beethoven's Symphony #4 which he feels is a lively piece, good for riding. He found it on the local radio station. You may recall that Don is still powering his radio, cell phone and computer with the solar collector he runs on top of the trailer he is towing.
In a convenience store in Calamus, he talked with a guy named Steve who used to commute 130 miles into the suburbs of Chicago. Steve was able to give Don some good recommendations on which roads to bike to get to the Chicago metropolitan area. Soon after, Don stopped at a roadside farm stand and ate an ear of raw corn-on-the-cob which he says was excellent. A short while later, he picked up some lunch meats which he ate a nearby park about 10 miles away from the Mississippi River in a town called Clinton, Iowa. He climbed up a couple of really long hills and found a nice campsite close enough to the river where this time he could hear the frogs croaking to the distant rumble of far away barges. All for only four dollars!
After settling in his tent for the night, he saw two eyes looking at him from the darkness. He went outside his tent to see who it was and found a raccoon sitting on the seat of his bike. The zipper of one of the panniers had been left open and a plastic bag full of maps was strewn about and a loaf of bread was completely missing.
The next morning he found a nice bike trail but was having difficulty finding a bridge to go over the Mississippi, when a cyclist named Terry took him to a crossing he could use. Many fellow bike riders have given Don escorts for which he has been very thankful.
Once he was in Illinois and was climbing from the river bottom, when he put the bike in the granny gear, the chain caught just like it had back at Rabbit Ear's Pass in Colorado. Hoping it was just a fluke, he continued on to Hwy 30 where there was a small shoulder he could ride, nice after not having had that in Iowa. Unfortunately the shoulder deteriorated soon after, and since there were a lot of trucks on this arterial, he decided to take another road he saw on his maps. On it, he came upon a store called the William & Mary Computer Center. As it turned out, Bill and Mary had opened the store together but were later divorced. Mary left and Bill didn't feel like hassling with owning the business so he sold it and stayed on as an employee. Much to Don's delight, he was able to get online and retrieve his email.
His joy continued when he rolled away on his bike - there was more Beethoven on the radio! He arrived in Rock Falls on a side road and wasn't sure where he was. A guy working in a car repair shop recommended Don take Hwy 38 all the way to Chicago. He ended up in Dixon on Hwy 38 not realizing at the time that Dixon is where 2002 NBG rider, Andrew Heckman, was seriously injured after being hit by a car.
Along the highway there are signs documenting some of the local kids sports accomplishments. Dixon, Illinois is also the place that Ronald Reagan considered his home town. Don saw his home along the road and decided to stop and take the tour. It has been restored and furnished to appear as it did during that period.
Some people Don met at a grocery store suggested he camp at Rochelle, which they thought was 40 miles away. On the way there, Don pulled off the road to watch a firefly show. Rochelle actually turned out to be only 25 miles away so he kept riding until he got to Franklin Grove. There he met a cyclist named Andrew who took him to his place for juice and candy bars and then directed Don to another park for camping. On the way, he met yet another bike rider, a fellow name Mike, on a recumbent. Mike pedaled with Don to a bike trail when all of sudden Don realized he was in Chicago. Abandoning the idea of camping at the park Andrew had suggested, he decided to get off the trail and camp in the woods. Wanting to keep a low profile, Don decided to forgo the tent and use DEET instead. But the insect repellent didn't deter the mosquitoes for long. He pulled the nylon mesh on the inside of his raincoat over his head and finally ended up getting a good night's sleep.
Don stopped at Walmart where he purchased socks, yogurt, jeans, and a candy bar. Back on another bike trail he met Jim, a bike rider who was collecting empty cans. Jim rode with Don for a while. He told Don how he had been involved when the county decided to remove the railroad track and it was he who had suggested they replace the tracks with what is now known as the Great Western Trail that connects Sycamore with the Fox River on the western edge of metro Chicago.
Don had arranged to hook up with his friend Gale, who used to live in San Jose and now lives in Chicago. They met along the Fox River Trail and biked to the end where her car was parked. However, they were unable to fit Don's bike in her car and he ended up riding through suburban Chicago to her house. There were no shoulders and lots of cars, forcing him to pull off until traffic subsided a few times. He found another bike trail, but it ended. At one point, he even had to lift his bike and trailer to get over a set of railroad tracks. When he did make it to Gale's house, her dog had challenged a skunk and the skunk won. By the time he was finally able to let his guard down, they went out for pizza. At the eatery, the walls were decorated with photos of customers. The waitress took a picture of Don to add to them.
He left his bike at Gale’s house and rented a car to go to Appleton, Wisconsin to visit his aunt and uncle. While there, ee found out that the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Assn.)
After the excitement of the EAA Don drove back to Chicago where he met up with his friend, Bill, who had driven up from St. Louis to see him. Bill got Don his first job at Apple Computer. They saw Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio and the Unity temple he had designed. In downtown Chicago they went to the Billy Goat Tavern, named so because the owner, local legend William Sianis, used to take his goat to the games at Wrigley Field. When was told he could not bring his goat into the 1945 World Series game, his curse that the Cubs would never win a championship again has held true. The Tavern gained notoriety on “Saturday Night Live” in the mid-70’s.
Don plans to spend the night at a youth hostel and to see his brothers David and Gary. . He has made his reservation to leave Washington DC on August 11 on Amtrack. He will arrive in San Jose on Saturday the 14th.
Don says, “I could get on a bike and stay on it for years as a bike bum, but now I’ve got to get back to work and take care of a few things.”
Friday, July 30 Chicago Proclamation Ceremony
Don woke up early to a rainy day but it was too warm to wear his raincoat. On the way to the Chicago proclamation ceremony, he stopped to visit with Ruby's parents and children. Ruby is his friend from San Jose who saw Don off at the San Jose proclamation ceremony almost two months ago. He then made his way over to the Millennium Park Bike Station for the reception. There he met his brothers David and Gary as well as Mayor Daley's Chicago Bicycle Ambassador, Carlos Cuarta.
Don was very impressed with the new Bike Station and the fact that they had showers and offered bike repair services as well as bike rentals. As testimony to Mayor Daley's commitment to Chicago cycling, the recently dedicated facility, located in the center of downtown, was completely rebuilt from an old car parking garage. With secure parking for 300 two wheelers, this state of the art human powered haven is mostly underground and will work year round. During the weekdays, it will give employees at the many businesses located all around it a place to freshen up after their ride to work as well as a safe place to stow their cycles and on the weekends and weeknights it will offer secure bike parking for concert goers and art patrons at the beautiful Millennium Park. Adjacent to the lengthy Lake Shore Drive path, it will support cycling there as well.
At the street level entrance, Carlos read the Mayor's proclamation and presented it to Don and Victor. One of the cyclists at the reception then invited Don to join him on the Critical Mass ride that evening. After checking into the youth hostel, Don's brothers rented bikes from the Bike Station and they all made their way through the city to the start of the ride. Arriving a little late they had to hustle to catch up with the group.
This was Don's first Critical Mass ride and he was surprised to see around 1,000 bike riders participating. The bicyclists just take over the streets. When they go through a traffic light the group just keeps going until they are all through no matter whether the light has changed or not. He felt this was a great way to see the city with no worries about traffic.
He met many people at the Critical Mass ride including a redhead lady originally from Istanbul riding a high wheeler. She had met Jim Muellner when he came through Chicago on his 2003 NBG TransAm ride last year. Someone else in the crowd asked Don if he was a part of the NBG Mayors' Ride. Another man who goes by the name of XMan and makes videos of the Critical Mass rides for CAN (Chicago Area Network), interviewed Do. He promised Don a copy.
The ride ended at Foster Beach, about six miles north of downtown Chicago. It was 9:30 at night and the warm lake water was just too inviting for some to pass up, including Don. While Don was biking back, he met Fred, who was on a BikeE. Fred was with his mom, who was riding the trike he had purchased for her to help her with her osteoarthritis. She was riding more and more every day and had just completed the entire Critical Mass ride.
After dining with his brothers, Don got back to the youth hostel around 2:00 am. It had been a long, but fun day.
Don rode along the lake front on a bike trail that skirts the lake. Just before he crossed the border into Indiana, there were signs along the trail directing the rider to Hwy 12. Since a friend had recommended Don try a Chicago hot dog, he decided to order one along with a milk shake for breakfast. Hwy 12 goes right along the lake side and is populated with steel mills, smoke stacks, and a power plant with a large cooling tower. He stopped at the Indiana Sand Dunes National Park for a snack. In the bottom of his pannier were two cans of tuna that had been there for quite a while. They were pretty banged up and he threw out the can that had been punctured and ate the other. He then got on a bike trail which was not in good condition, and decided to get back on the highway again. The road took him to New Buffalo where he saw a lot of sand dunes and remembered stopping here with his family years ago.
He arrived at his cousin’s house in Granger around 10:00 pm after having ridden over 100 miles that day. Even though it was late, their hospitality was over the top. They made him a delicious meal of barbequed steak and he loved the radio in the shower. They have two daughters, one of whom is a champion golfer. The family travels the country attending their daughter’s golf matches. The next morning, Don had a four egg omelet with several pancakes. His cousin, Mark, pumped up the tires on his bike and rode with Don through the neighborhood. Later Don stopped at a fruit stand where he ate half of a watermelon and had saved the other half for breakfast the next day. He rode into Wakerusa where the streets in downtown were pretty torn up. There he saw a restaurant called Cooks and went inside and had pizza. Some folks had gathered to look at his bike rig parked outside. He asked them where he might camp for the night, and they couldn’t think of anything, so one of them called the police to see if they had any ideas. Sargeant Eric suggested Don camp in his backyard for the night.
The next day, while riding through Amish country, Don had heard that they ride recumbent bicycles made out of wood, which made him think of Tom Kabat
Since he only rode 26 miles yesterday, he is trying to make up time today. He went south to Hwy 30 which has an excellent shoulder, about 10’ wide and a tailwind to boot. A young man passed him driving a Bobcat that had a long pole sticking out the front of it for carrying bales of hay. He seemed a little out of control as he passed Don and just ahead of Don he ran into a pickup truck which was also carrying hay, and the pole poked and burst one of the pickup truck’s tires. Apparently the man in the truck was the young man’s father and as they were having words, Don decided to just keep going and not get involved.
He cruised right into Fort Wayne, Indiana, which is where he called me. He has ridden 70 miles so far today and hopes to get another 30 or so in before darkness falls.
- 2004 Mayors' Ride
- Don Loomis
- Don's blog
- Victor Grinshtein
- Andrew Heckman
- Millennium Park Bike Station
- Jim Muellner
- Patrick Thomas
Approaching the Windy City from the West, in addition to Des Moines NBG Day last Thursday, to Don Loomis has had one adventure after another. In fact, Faye Saunders has been hard at work trying to keep up with him. Besides taking his reports over the phone and then creating the stories you have seen here about his ride for the last 6 weeks, she also scours the web looking for applicable links and checking the spelling of those cities and points of interest he calls out. I think you'll agree that both she and Don are doing some good work:
When we spoke Friday, the firs thing Don wanted to point out was the fact that the rooms in both the Hotel Pattee http://hotelpattee.com and The Cottage B&B http://www.thecottagedsm.com in Iowa were complimentary in honor of his cross country bicycle tour bringing the vision of the NBG to Americans everywhere.
I was a bit concerned when Don told me he was calling from the Sudbury Court in Marengo, Iowa, but he quickly assured me that he was not in any sort of trouble, but was camping at the Sudbury Court Motel & RV Park in Marengo, Iowa.
Back in Des Moines that morning, Don had been awakened by the sound of thunder. He looked out of the window of his comfortable room at The Cottage to dark skies. After the gracious B&B staff had treated him to a breakfast that included an omelet, fruit, bacon and toast, he read in the paper that the Mayor would be doing some sort of ribbon cutting ceremony for some pedestrian bridges and walkways that were to be built over the Des Moines River. Little did he know that he would be a guest of honor at it.
Don and his Iowa guide, Robert Craddick. headed off to the coffee shop where they were to meet the Des Moines government chief. Mayor Frank Cownie arrived dressed for a meeting. He told them his last appointment had run over time and that he would have to go home to change into something more suitable for bike riding. Meanwhile, a TV reporter interviewed Don and Robert.
When Mayor Frank returned on his bicycle, accompanied by his daughter, Suzie, Don noticed that the mayor's bike tires were quite low and proceeded to pump them up for him. Suzie told Don that she plans to attend Santa Clara University in the fall, which is very close to Don's home in San Jose, CA. The four of them rode then rode, in the summer rain that had forced everyone else inside, to City Hall. Once there Lorna Davros, the Mayor's scheduler, helped them get in to the City Council Chamber for the NBG proclamation ceremony, which included a speech by Don.
Once this ceremony concluded, instead of going across the street to the barbecue that had been planned, they rode even more rain to the ceremony that Don had read about. There, symbolic of a groundbreaking ceremony for a new trail center, called the River Walk , that would be built on an old rail line, Mayor Frank used a chainsaw to cut railroad ties. By the time the Mayor was finished, it had begun raining very hard. The governor, a former senator, and a representative from the Army Corps of Engineers all spoke. When it was Mayor Frank's turn he introduced Don and talked about the NBG Mayors' Ride. There were more umbrellas than bicycles present, however.
Because rain had cancelled their cookout, when the ceremony was over, Robert and Don retreated back to Robert's house where they had a "bratfest" of their own. There Robert invited all the cyclists he knew to help them eat the hot dogs and drinks a grocery store had donated and the 80 bratwursts that Lewirghts deli http://lewrightmeats.biz had also generously provided free of charge.
According to Don, Robert has a collection of bicycle history items that he carries around in a box that he calls his "museum in a box". It contains memorabilia such as books, buttons, old lanterns, etc. Robert also has an cat with a unique talent -- it fetches.
Don left Des Moines around 5:00 pm after the rain had subsided. He biked through downtown before hooking up with the Heritage Bike Trail which would take him in a northeasterly direction. He found a great dinner special at the HiVee grocery store -- a meatloaf dinner for only $3.50. He then rode on until he arrived at the County Park around 8:30 pm. There he had a nice campsite complete with showers, always a plus.
Since his intention was to arrive in Iowa City to spend the night with the parents of a friend of his from church, he rose before dawn and saw a very beautiful sunrise while pedaling away. The sky was a dappled red color with the sun coming through a small sliver. That's one of the advantages of getting up early, and he was glad he did, since the rest of the day he saw nothing but clouds in the sky. It was a bit cooler, in the 70's, but he did not make Iowa City as planned due to a strong headwind and quite a few hills.
The next morning he decided to try the another HiVee for breakfast, this time in Newton, where he enjoyed some Missouri peaches. Later, he couldn't resist stopping at a lemonade stand run by three little girls. They were making made-to-order fresh squeezed lemonade. What a treat! One of the girls talked about her dad who had hiked from Iowa to the west coast, probably before she was born. Later, in Grinnell he met some young ladies who had just seen a Winnebego pass by and were discussing what fun that would be to tour the country in one, when Don rolled up and convinced them that it would be much more fun to tour the country by bicycle instead. He invited them to join him, but they didn't have bikes and couldn't go today.
In La Dora, he met the owner of a small store there called The La Dora Stora. Ironically, she and Don were both born in Oregon and had lived in California. They discussed the upcoming RAGBRAI bike race as she was stocking up on supplies, even though her store isn't on the main route of the ride. Don assumed she would be stocking up on sports drinks and snack items like nuts and fruit, but she said she was stocking up on beer -- it's not really so much a bike race as it is a huge moving party.
The mosquitoes are "almost vicious" where he is now in Marengo. He called me from inside the building where he was protected, but when he is outside they swarm the only unprotected parts of his body, his face and hands. Even DEET doesn't deter them for long, but the sun protection pants do work quite well as mosquito repellent. There are big black clouds in the sky and for the first time, Don felt a chill.
The plan is to visit with the people in Iowa City that he was supposed to have spent last night with and he would also like to visit the nearby Amana Colonies, which consists of a group of cities settled by Amish people from Europe. He plans to be in Chicago on July 27th.
July 21, 9:00 pm
On Tuesday morning when Don looked out on the day, it was so humid there was a blanket of thick warm fog. Robert and Don left the motel at 6:30 AM riding toward Perry. When they got to Shelby none of restaurants had opened yet. They found a bike trail and, even though they didn't know where it went, they took it anyway, because they like bike trails. When it ended, they were on a gravel road with a lot of ups and downs. There they met a dog who had just been swimming in the creek and managed to get Robert quite wet. The very friendly canine followed them for about three miles all the while drooling on Don's trailer and trying to climb up on his bike. Don seems to have a way with dogs. Once they got to the paved road, the dog stopped as though that was the end of his territory.
The next town they hit, Elk Horn, is a Danish community which is home to the Danish Immigration Museum. Robert and Don enjoyed the Danish pastries they had at the restaurant where they stopped for lunch. They told some people outside the restaurant about the Mayors' Ride they were a part of and the locals told them that their Mayor had just driven by. They took Don and Robert to meet him, someone took Polaroid pictures, and a newspaper reporter even showed up and took a statement from Don. Perhaps we can add Elk Horn to the ride next year??
Kimbleton is another Danish community with a fountain of the Little Mermaid in the park and an imported windmill the locals there are quite proud of. Heading out on Hwy 44 Don and Robert passed through Guthrie Center and then Penora. They took the Racoon River Trail into Yale which followed the railroad tracks. On the hottest day in Iowa, these two gentlemen rode 100 miles! A long day, they arrived in Perry at about 10:00 PM and went straight to the Hotel Pattee (http://www.hotelpattee.com). This is the nicest hotel in Iowa with different themed rooms. When Don told them about his journey, they decided he should have the RAGBRAI/BRR room. RAGBRAI is the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa which takes over the entire state for a week starting on Sunday and BRR is the Bike Ride to Rippey which goes from Perry to Rippey in February and, brrr, it's cold in Iowa in February.
Don tells me he has never been in a room this nice. It was completely done in a bicycle decor with bedspreads with giant bike wheels on them, murals on the ceiling, lamps made of bike parts, pillows embroidered with bicycles, everything in the room had something to do with bicycles. There were statues enclosed in glass cases with light switches to illuminate them if he chose. It was a very high class place with a nice bathtub and fancy soaps. Rather than take a shower, Don chose to luxuriate in the bathtub instead. Needless to say, Don slept great.
He woke up the next morning to the sound of thunder, opened the window and saw rain and lightning. The window opened up to a beautiful statue garden. Don enjoyed the continental breakfast of pina colata yogurt, pastries, and more for breakfast. By the time they were ready to ride, the storm had ended leaving everything clean and fresh.
They headed east with the wind at their backs -- a first for Don's trip. He has had a headwind every day of his ride! He enjoyed the flat roads and they cruised along at a decent speed of 18 mph. They stopped for lunch in Madrid at a little restaurant. Robert had been talking about pork tenderloin sandwiches and the one at this restaurant was the best he'd ever had. Don, to honor his favorite reporter, ordered the Faye Burger which came with barbeque sauce and grilled onions and was, naturally, quite delicious. After lunch Don and Robert enjoyed a nice long bike trail which they rode for about 25 miles. It meandered past lakes populated with small boats. It also had lots of trees providing shade that kept it pretty cool, even though it was still quite humid. The trail took them right into Des Moines where they checked into The Cottage (http://www.thecottagedsm.com), a beautiful bed & breakfast offering them another complimentary room for the night. Don thought the hollyhocks in front offered a good first impression.
After unhooking his trailer and leaving it at the B&B, he and Robert rode to the restaurant where Betsy works. The cook there has ridden RAGBRAI and may join them for the Mayor's reception tomorrow . They plan to meet the Mayor in a coffee shop and ride with him to the proclamation ceremony. Don looks forward to being able to ride with another mayor. He started his ride from San Jose, CA to Palo Alto, CA with Mayor Bob Orneleus of Arcata, CA.
He thinks if he had any sort of vandalistic tendencies, he would get .com stickers and put them on all the bikeroute signs he sees everywhere.
Don says "Today was great and I'm looking forward to tomorrow. This is a lot of fun. I'm seeing a lot of Iowa and what a neat way to experience what's really here."
Monday, July 19 8:30 pm
Back in Hastings, Nebraska, Don found a road heading in the direction of the WWII bunkers that Sheriff Heath had told him about. There was a seed company occupying one of the older military looking buildings. The buildings are not built on a grid, but instead were offset from each other to protect them from enemy bombings. The bunkers once stored most of the bombs used by the US military in WWII.
Behind the seed company was a truck scale. Don couldn't resist the urge to weigh his bicycle which weighed in at whopping 140 lbs. I guess he has an excuse for walking up those steeper grades in the mountains!
Having been craving Subway sandwiches, Don was pleased to find one of their stores in Sutton, Nebraska. Soon after, he felt tired and found a nice comfortable concrete picnic table on which to nap. That evening he thought the Blue River State Wildlife Area sounded like it would be a nice place to camp, however he found no place where he could set up a tent and there was a very noisy pump operating nearby. A couple on bikes suggested he try the city park in Milford which was right in the middle of town with houses surrounding it. Taking them up on their suggestion, he used the rainfly on his tent in order to gain some privacy. As luck would have it, Don found another Subway eatery in Milford -- his cravings for the sandwiches now sufficiently satisfied.
The next morning, while packing up his tent, a mother and daughter stopped to talk with him. They were out watering some plants they had planted around the community. The daughter invited Don to their home to have quiche for breakfast with them. Since that sounded a lot better than the instant oatmeal on his menu, he quickly took them up on their generous offer. The woman's husband, Dave, was a Fed Ex driver and knew the roads of the area intimately. He drew a map of roads and bike trails to Lincoln for Don. Anne offered him freshly baked breads, nuts and dried fruits for his journey. He also took advantage of the offer of a shower while there. "Real nice people" is how Don described them.
Once in Lincoln, Don found the Hosteling International Hostel he had planned to stay at. He had the place to himself complete with shower, laundry facility, and even a phone connection so he could check his email. The next morning after packing up his bike, he had a conversation with Seth, the hostel manager, and his girlfriend, Melody. They directed him to the MoPac Bike Trail which would take him to the middle of Lincoln. The people who live along the trail plant flowers in their backyards for the bike riders' enjoyment. There he met another mother and daughter duo. The daughter was born and raised in Lincoln, but had lived in Palo Alto, California, for a while where she worked as a nanny. Don also recalled that in order to give people the bikeroute.com web address, he just points to the Bike Route signs he always find himself near. He says that is a great name for the NBG's website.
Along the bike trail in Walton, Don came across a combination bike shop/restaurant/store. The shop was started by someone who was influential in that area's bike trail becoming a reality. The shop was in an old building and there many pictures of bicycles in the restrooms. The upstairs of the building, a dance hall many years ago, now acts as a storage room for collectible bicycles. The bikes belong to someone who just collects them but never sells any -- old Schwinn's and bicycles with large hood ornaments on them. The pedals have all been removed and hung on the handle bars so the bikes fit closer together in order to squeeze more in the room.
While there Don met someone who told him about Tom Armstrong, the Bicycle Tour Director of the Historic Trails Network
Don turned off the trail heading toward Omaha. At a restaurant in Elmwood he met Dave, who restores old bicycles and give them to his grandkids. He paints them to resemble John Deere tractors and Caterpillar bulldozers. The kids love them. He had also read the book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", one of Don's favorite old books.
Once in Omaha, Don hooked up with his friend Ron who had just returned from a trip to Salt Lake City and Alaska with his daughter. They had many pictures and stories to share. That evening was the most beautiful sunset Don has seen on his trip so far. We're going to have to take his word for it, because unfortunately he didn't have his camera with him. Sunday morning, Don joined Ron for church service followed by Ron's Swedish pancakes with butter, whipped cream and strawberries. Don ate more than his share and left Ron's house feeling quite satiated. He rode bike trails all the way to City Hall (Omaha has 80+ miles of interconnected, paved trails, making it one of the finest such systems in the US, ed) and the NBG Day Proclamation Ceremony. He had a little difficulty finding his way as there were so many trails to choose from and some would suddenly end. He met Robert Craddick and his girlfriend, Betsy, at the City center building. The Mayor of Omaha showed up shortly after Don arrived.
Omaha was celebrating it's 150 year anniversary and the entire city was having a big celebration. There were chalk paintings all over the sidewalks wishing the city a Happy Birthday. At a park downtown there were many sculptures gracing it and one that caught Don's attention looked like an upside down tornado made out of wire. There are some surprisingly steep hills in Omaha, which Don thought were as steep as some of the grades he had come over on the Sierras and Rocky Mountains. His granny gear was struggling and he wound up walking up some of them.
Later that day, Robert and Don crossed a bridge into Council Bluffs, Iowa, that Don would have liked to have gotten a picture of, but found it too busy to stop for a photograph. Robert experienced a flat tire as soon as they got on Mud Hollow Road. The name sounded a little ominous for bicyclists, but they continued on it anyway. They stopped and asked two women if this was a good road for them to be biking. Tonya and Stacy, who were cousins, told them that it is paved for a while, but would turn into gravel if they were to continue. They advised Don and Robert to turn around and use the main highway and offered them some pizza and cookies, which they happily accepted. The ladies also called the local TV station and the newspaper, the Daily Non Pareil. A reporter from the paper came out to meet with them.
Back on the road, they missed a turn and got into some really steep hills where, once again, Don walked his 140 lb. bike up the steepest part. Later, they stopped at a grocery store to pick up some cold drinks in Minden, Iowa. The thermometer on Don's bike reads 102 degrees, however it feels hotter than it has so far on his trip -- the "sweatiest" day yet. The weather is predicted to be hot again tomorrow, followed by a cold front on Wednesday where the temperature should drop to a very comfortable 70 degrees. There is a slight chance of thunderstorms but not a high probability.
Faye Saunders offers this informative piece about Don Loomis's ride thru Nebraska. And it sounds like, just like Skot Paschal on his ride from Bose to Salt Lake City, Don is discovering a lot about the Cornhusker state that most travelers in this area, never become aware of:
7/14 8:00 pm
Feeling rather like a caged animal with mosquitoes as spectators, Don called me from his campsite next to the highway in Hastings, Nebraska. He has covered himself with DEET, has his tent tightly sealed and is watching the mosquitoes swarming around outside trying to get in.
In Minden,, NE, he had the opportunity to tour the Harold Warp Pioneer Village in the morning, and what an interesting place! Harold Warp, the founder of the museum, came up with the idea of showcasing man's progress over the last century and a half. He chose the year 1830 for the beginning of each exhibit, corresponding to when man learned to roll steel, draw wire and hold steam under pressure. In their exhibits are most of the important scientific inventions used every day in homes, transportation, communications and agriculture. As part of the extensive transportation exhibit, Don visited the bicycle shop which had, among other things, vintage bicycles like bone shakers (aka high wheelers) and a modern Vision recumbent. Another exhibit contrasts modern homes with old-time washing machines, refrigerators, and bathtubs. There are even five complete period kitchens showing how our ancestors cooked in a fireplace (1830), a wood-burning Franklin stove (1860), an iron cook stove with an oven door on each side (1890) and a stove that used natural gas (1930). He was also impressed by the authentic pioneer sod house, consisting of eleven acres of prairie sod which make up the three foot thick walls. Don highly recommends the museum saying that it was a "neat place and not expensive".
Heading east on Hwy 6, Don rolled into Hastings where he stopped at the AAA office to obtain maps of the eastern states so he can begin to plan his ride beyond Chicago. He had lunch at a fast food restaurant, something he has avoided as much as possible, where he ordered a hot dog with a cappuccino oreo shake. On the way to Hastings, Don passed two ethanol plants and a very large power plant.
Once he set up his camp along the side of the highway, Sheriff Heath, stopped by to visit with him. Heath told Don that he was camped along eight miles of bunkers where most of the ammunitions used in WWII were manufactured. These bunkers consist of 80 buildings built underground which are covered with dirt and separated from each other so that enemy aircraft could not bomb all of them at once. Don was planning to investigate the bunkers further as he rides along them tomorrow.
When I asked if he was feeling stronger now that he been on the road a while, he said that he definitely was, but that may have been due to the fact that he rode only half the day today. Or perhaps it is because after crossing two mountain ranges, he is now riding over gently rolling hills. He recollected the first day of his cross country bike tour when he rode with me and Max and Martin and Barbara from San Jose to Palo Alto, California, on a heavily overloaded and wobbly bike.
In addition to the mosquitoes hungrily looking in on him as we spoke, he can see fireflies buzzing around outside his tent. Tomorrow he hopes to stay at one of the few youth hostels in the midwest in Lincoln. He is looking forward to hooking up with Robert Craddick for the ride into Omaha.
"I'm having a ball" says Don.
With Omaha, located not far from the Iowa border, still five days away, Don Loomis is enjoying the wide shoulders of US 30 and generally taking his time as he moves thru Nebraska. The pace he is moving at is far different from the break neck schedules he had had to keep all the way up to Steamboat Springs. He had before gotten behind because of the innumerable mountain passes and the fact that he had not yet built an efficient routine for his ride. Finally now moving at a relaxed pace, with Faye Saunders expert help, he is showing us a Nebraska that few people see:
What Don was trying to explain to me the last time we spoke and his cell phone reception was failing, was about a contractor he had met (I believe this was back in Ogallala) who specialized in replacing basements of homes. The cement lasts about 100 years and then needs to be replaced. He begins by drilling two large holes on opposite sides of the foundation and inserting 2 metal I beams through the holes which will hold the house up while he knocks the concrete out in the basement. In a house he was working on, the contractor took Don on a tour of the basement as well as the storm cellar in the backyard which had a concrete stairway leading underground with a breathing pipe for surviving tornadoes.
Monday night when he set up his tent, the strong winds blew it down again. He could see a lightening storm to the east, and with the wind coming from that direction as well, thought for sure the storm was headed his way. He was looking forward to it, in a way, to see how well his equipment would hold up in a storm, but the storm never made it to him. The winds did decrease the humidity and reduce the mosquito population somewhat. The mosquitos are so bad here, they are even eating right through his polypropylene shirt. People have also told him about the mosquitos carrying the West Nile Virus.
Tuesday morning, he road south to Loomis, Nebraska, where he found a building with a sign outside that read City Clerk and Library. Inside he spoke with a man named Terry who told him that, of the 600 residents, none of them had the last name of Loomis, even though the town was founded by George W. Loomis, a railroad official. In the library he found a book published for the town's 1986 Centennial that had some historical facts including the 1914 fire that wiped out an entire city block.
Back on US Highway 6, Don has found this to be a very nice road to ride. Like Hwy 30, it is nicely paved with a very wide shoulder which works quite well as a bike trail as far as a National Bicycle Greenway goes. Don's theory is that the shoulders of the roads are quite wide in these parts of the country to accommodate the wide farm equipment, such as combines, that the farmers drive. In Axtell, Don utilized the restroom facilities in the local bar, bought a Sprite, and refilled his water bottles with ice donated by the bartender. The temperature here is 95 - 100 degrees, making the frozen malt he got from the grocery store even more refreshing.
Later that day, Don arrived in Minden, where there is a museum called the Howard Warp Pioneer Museum, which Don had visited with his wife many years before. The Pioneer Museum boasts the largest private collection of Americana anywhere. He is going to spend Wednesday here touring the museum and head toward Lincoln on Thursday. There is a swimming pool in town, which Don enjoyed until they closed it at 7:30pm. While the RV section of the campground is full, Don is the only tent camper there, giving him that tiny section of the park all to himself. At the Pioneer Village Restaurant, Don had a good meal complete with salad bar, and the people in the next booth that he had been chatting with even paid his tab! There were electrical outlets at each table, which Don had his laptop and camcorder plugged into. When he told the waitress all they needed was wireless, she didn't know what that meant.
A man stopped by Don's campsite to chat and told Don how he had raced motorcycles, bicycles and burros (yes, you read that right). He would get wild burros from the National Park Service and train them to race. He wrote an article about burro racing which was published in several magazines.
According to his odometer, Don has ridden 2000 miles since leaving home in California. He estimates it is probably another 1000 miles to Chicago. Since he cannot see any stars tonight, he is preparing for rain by bringing his panniers inside the tent and strapping his bike to a picnic table so it isn't blown over by the wind in the middle of the night. There is currently a nice breeze of 5-10 mph out of the east.
Don's quotes for the day: "I'm still really liking this a lot. Life is good here."
Faye Saunders has been Don's faithful reporter for almost a month now. And I think you will agree that her reports keep getting better and better, especially as she learns what she needs to get Don talk about. In only 12 more days, Don's ride and our NBG Suummer of 2004 will be over, but THX to Faye, Don's excellent adventure will live into perpetuity:
7/12 8:00 pm
After leaving Ogallala with a stash of dried apples, Don met a man named Bob from Iowa who had unicycled RAGBRAI, which is an annual bike ride across the state of Iowa
There are numerous trains going by Don in Nebraska (as we spoke I could hear one after the other passing by) and earlier in the day, he had found one going in the same direction at about the same speed, so he decided to race it. It is somewhere in the 100 degree range today and you have to do whatever it takes to keep yourself going on some of these stretches.
Riding into Paxton, Nebraska, he came across a unique establishment called Ole's Big Game Steak House & Lounge. Ole was an avid hunter and opened this establishment on August 9, 1933 at 12:01 am the day after prohibition ended. Ole traveled to every continent bringing home the trophies from his hunting safaris and displaying the 200 mounts and many photographs on the walls. Don enjoyed his buffet lunch next to a stuffed giraffe. He said the food was delicious and the desserts were so good, he had to force himself to stop at two.
The local radio station is playing Irish music, which reminded Don of a bicycle tour of Ireland he had taken with his daughter four years ago. Next, he met a man who rides the rails and was waiting for the next desirable train. Don shared some of his food with the man, as they discussed Don being dressed all in white so people will see him versus the man who was dressed all in black so he would not be detected. The train hopper owns a mountain bike but doesn't like to travel with it as that requires the train be completely stopped in order for him to hop on board. Don asked him what he thought about roller blades when it came up that there are not many people riding the rails since 9/11. At which point he hustled off to catch a train that seemed to meet his requirements.
In North Platte, Don stopped at the Log Cabin Restaurant where he had a bowl of chili accompanied by the best butterscotch milkshake he's ever had. The waitress told Don about her desire to live "someplace cold". Don suggested she read the book "Going to Extremes" by Joe McGuinniss, about a man from Boston who moved to Alaska. Having indulged much too much at the Log Cabin, Don had to ride very slowly. He felt thirsty but didn't have any room left in his stomach for water.
Arriving in Maxwell, he had some water and Gatorade and felt much better. Some folks there recommended a park for camping where Don saw a man exercising with an oxygen tank. The man turned out to be a fire fighter staying in shape for his job. He even gave Don the passcode for entering the fire station where Don had use of the telephone and shower. Before retiring for the evening, he had another flat tire and decided to wait until the light of morning to change it. He was lulled to sleep by the sounds of locusts, crickets and trains. When he awoke, he heard what sounded like rain drops but turned out to be a very heavy, damp fog. In Brady, he met an older farmer dressed in overalls who told him that years earlier a man had traveled through town on a high wheeler bicycle.
In Overton, Don had the opportunity to meet up with his sister-in-law from Cheyenne again. They were traveling back from an archery tournament that her daughter had attended in Atlanta. Communicating via cell phone, they were able to hook up along the highway. And what a talented family they are -- her son is a break dancer and Don was able to capture his performance on video. It is unusually humid in these parts of the country right now, so Don sat in their air conditioned car for a while, which he said "felt weird".
Someone told Don about a group of people walking across the country whose motto is "We walk across so you don't have to". He did not know why or what their cause was.
There is a town called Loomis just south of Overton, and he is going to ride down there to see what the town that shares his namesake is like.
Don Loomis is powering away as he surges toward Omaha on his way to Chicago, the end point for this year's Mayors' Ride. Faye Saunders connected with Don, who is now in Nebraska, and she filed this great report:
From Ogallala, Nebraska
I received an interesting geography lesson from Don this weekend as he called me from the Ogallala Aquifer. The Aquifer is a huge underground reservoir covering a total of 800 miles north to south and 400 miles east to west. It includes the states of South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. There is grave concern about the water level of the Aquifer since "it has been cut off from almost all of its natural recharging sources". See
After leaving Galeton, Colorado, Don took Hwy 14, which is the same route he was on when he crossed Cameron Pass back in the Rockies. He was a celebrity at the restaurant in New Raymer where he stopped to grab lunch. Everyone in the restaurant came out to see his bike, and those who had cameras with them, took lots of pictures. Must have been a hearty lunch, because when Don saw some nice grass along the side of the road, he decided to take a nap.
There have been many wide load trucks passing him lately carrying all sorts of large items; manufactured homes, lumber, etc. At the Walmart in Sterling, he picked up some batteries, bananas, oranges, Oreo cookies -- much needed supplies for the road. A guy there was a recumbent rider and knew the former mayor of Iliff. Once in Iliff, the former mayor gave Don directions to a park where he could camp for the night. At another park in the middle of town there was a band playing Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Good. And it did sound good, however, seeing some storm clouds in the distance, he opted for dinner and beer in a local tavern instead. There he met a fellow named Zack who was there with his mother and sister, and his stepdad, who was the bartender. They warned Don about a rabid skunk who was known to be prowling the area. When Don arrived back at his tent, he found it unzipped. After looking inside very carefully and finding no skunks, he climbed inside, zipped the tent up tightly, and fell fast asleep.
For breakfast, Don had yogurt with some raw oatmeal and water mixed in with it. After hitting the road again, he experienced flat tire #6, this one on the BOB trailer again. For lunch he stopped in Ovid, Colorado, which had received 4" of rain the night before! Don was glad he missed that. He then had an interesting cow experience. A (gang/group/bunch/herd?) of about 100 cows all began walking toward him, ran away, and then cautiously came back again. I'm sure they had never seen the likes of Don before with his fully loaded recumbent bicycle dressed from head to toe in his white 30 SPF outfit! He spent about 20 minutes with the cows, capturing them on his camcorder and even managed some form of communication with them -- when he mooed, one of the cows returned the sentiment. A little further along, he was greeted by a couple of dogs, one of whom gave him a big hug.
He then came across an interesting looking but no longer active grain elevator. It reminded him of the large redwood trees that you can drive a car through out there on the West Coast. He parked his bike inside and took a picture and thought what a great campsite that would have made had it been later in the day. Later, as he was riding along, he came upon a bearded man walking along the highway with his pack and guitar. He was hiking his way from California back to New York where he came from after having run out of money on the west coast. Several police cars had stopped and given him rides along the way and Don gave the man some of his water.
Once in Ogalalla, Don found a campground with shower facilities. It had been three days since his last shower and his clothing was beginning to stick to his skin. There is a couple camping next to him named Marty and Jean who travel the country singing in churches. Many thunderstorms and tornados begin in this area because of the winds coming down from the Rocky Mountains combining with the humid winds from the Gulf of Mexico creating turbulence. There are currently flood warnings east of Ogalalla, but Don didnt' seem too worried about that -- he's got electricity at his campsite, he'll be taking a shower soon, and will then go swimming in the campground pool. While we were on the phone, Don was looking at the sunset to the west, thunderstorms to the south, the interstate highway to the east, and Marty and Jean singing to the north. Marty and Jean recommended a beautiful route for Don to take on his way from Chicago to DC along Hwy 30 east of Pittsburgh. The wind is out of the west right now and Don is hoping that continues into tomorrow.
\However Don Loomis who can afford to be a little less pushed for time, has been very good at keeping his reporter, Faye Saunders, abreast of his daily activity. So here is what happened at Boulder NBG Day as well as that which led up to and followed it. Great stuff Faye! And Yahooo Don!!
7/8 8:30 pm
Don called from Galeton, Colorado, which is about 75 miles northeast from Boulder. He's in farm country now with lots of flat land. Someone recommended a park to camp at that also had shelters. His sleeping bag is in the shelter and he has two tree stumps that he found, one he is sitting on and the other his iBook is resting on. Don says, "This is 5 star camping!" If you can picture this, as we spoke, he had a headband with a flashlight mounted on it. Tucked under the headband was his cell phone as he talked into its mouthpiece!!
The last we talked, Don was in Longmont. He had had to go back to High Gear Cyclery as his bike's small chain ring was still catching the chain. Ray filed the chain ring down and it seems to be working perfectly now. Later that day, Greg Miller (http://NationalBicycleGreenway.com/Events/Mayors_Ride/bios/greg_miller.php ) joined Don and Buzz for the ride from Longmont to the NBG proclamation ceremony in Boulder. As they got near Boulder they met up with Marni Ratzel, the Boulder Bike Coordinator, and two bicycle police officers. They all rode the bike trail into the Farmer's Market where, from the music stage, Marni read the proclamation and Don made a speech for the crowd that had assembled. Several people then rode along the bike trail with them for a while before turning around and riding back to the park. The bike trail meandered along a creek, past meadows, and up and down hills -- Don said it was really pretty.
Greg and Don then made their way back to Greg's condo where Don was to spend the night. It took three trips to get Don's bike and gear up to the 2nd floor where Greg lives. They then walked down to Pearl Street where a large crowd had gathered to hear a band playing. Greg seemed to know everyone in Boulder. Don enjoyed a nice dinner and beer at the Red Fish Brewery with Greg and a couple Greg had run into at the band concert. There was also a band playing at the Brewery with some really good dancers doing their thing to the Raggae sounds. Greg explained why he knows so many people in Boulder -- he had lived in his van for 6 years and spent a lot of time downtown meeting people. He slept in a 0 degree sleeping bag in the winters, but last winter did escape to Arizona. Greg had observed during that time how much most people separate themselves from nature.
This morning, Greg rode with Don on the bike trails out of Boulder. It's a good thing he had a guide as there were many turns to make in the massive network of bike trails there. He has been taking videos whenever he has the chance. Today he passed by what he called "Prairie Dog City" where there were many prairie dogs sitting up in a field. He can see the snowcapped tip of Long's Peak in the distance which is in the Rocky Mountain National Park. The bike trail ended at Hwy 7 where Don and Greg said their good byes.
Traveling up Hwy 7, Don turned around and saw a beautiful view of the mountains and valleys of Colorado. Don said, "I'm really gonna miss Colorado." As he passed many housing development communities, he though how odd it is that people move into these packed little developments to get away from other people. A lot of them drive home, open the garage door from inside their car, close it behind them and don't even see their neighbors.
On the way to Colorado 66, Don rode a gravel road for about 5 miles where he saw a go-cart race track. As tempting as it was to go race go-carts for a while, the entrance was up a hill and he had had enough hills for a while. Once in Platteville, which is close to the Platte River, the temperature reached 102 degrees. The city of Greeley appears to be in a transition with the downtown streets are completely torn up and stores closed down. It had a run down feeling to it.
After passing a very large turkey farm and then a cattle processing plant, Don chose chicken for dinner in Eaton. The Bob trailer had a flat tire today - totaling 5 flats so far.
He is very seriously considering traveling all the way to the East Coast since it is "only 700 miles" from Chicago to Baltimore. His parents live in North Carolina, so that may be an incentive. He should reach Omaha NBG Day (7/19) in plenty of time and would plan on getting to Chicago early to do his sight seeing before the NBG Fest on July 30.
Faye Saunders file this report about Don Loomis:
7/6 9:00 pm
Halfway between Longmont and Boulder, Colorado, Don has comfortably crashed at his IBM co-worker's home. He rode into Longmont today to see Buzz Feldman at High Gear Cyclery where his bicycle underwent a major tune-up and overhaul. The gears were cleaned, a burr removed from the front derailleur, a new rear tire and rear fender were also installed. Don felt like a car race driver in the pit crew with 3 people working on his bike at one time. He says it feels like a brand new bike again. With his bike running perfectly and having as much fun as he is, Don is considering riding all the way to the east coast! He's looking for the least hilly route if anyone can help him out with one.
Of note to the National Bicycle Greenway powers-that-be is that while in Ft. Collins on the main route going through town there are signs along the road that say "No Bicycles". The reason, Don found out later, is that there is a bike route on the road that runs parallel to it. He felt there needed to be better signage on the main route letting bicyclists know that there was an alternate route.
Tomorrow Don and Buzz will be riding into Boulder together to accept the NBG Day proclamation.
Don says "This is great".
Faye Saunders had a busy 4th of July weekend just trying to keep up with all the fun Don Is having out there. Here's her report:
7/3 3:00 pm
Don spent last night in Walden where it was 44 degrees at the 8400 foot level. The sprinklers went off in the middle of the night at the park, and Don woke to a much cleaner bike as a result. I had to laugh remembering the part in Martin's book on his first bike ride across the US where he had had the same experience with sprinklers.
This morning, Don met some of his fellow bike campers, one of whom was a man from England who had traveled with his bike to the US by freight ship in March and is now heading to the northwest corner of the US. He plans to be in the Bay Area in August. He also met a couple from Maine who are riding their bikes to Marin County (also in the San Francisco Bay Area).
Traveling over Hwy 14, Don crossed Pameron Pass at an elevation of 10,276 feet and into Rustic, Colorado. The bike is working well and, despite his inability to utilize his lower gears, he is feeling strong. Also along Hwy 14 was a state park dedicated to a display of moose.
7/5 12:00 noon
Don had a beautiful downhill ride of about 30 miles along a river taking him into Ft. Collins on the eastern side of the Rockies. Once there, he met up with his relatives from Cheyenne, Wyoming. They drove in to Ft. Collins to meet him for dinner at the Ever Open Cafe, a 24 hour internet cafe. Surprisingly, Don was the first person **ever** to utilize their internet connection (hard to imagine for those of us living in high tech areas where the internet cafes are frequently jammed). This is particularly interesting since more and more high tech firms are moving into the Ft. Collins area.
At dinner, Don's brother-in-law and his nephew both expressed an interest in riding across Wyoming with him someday. It was also good to see his niece. She will be participating in the Olympics in Greece as the #1 ranked woman for the US archery team. The kids all tried riding his bike, some of them winding up with chain grease on their legs. Recumbents do have a lot of chain.
Also in Fort Collins, Don met a man named Brad who owned a local river rafting company called Mountain White Water Defense. Brad invited Don to stay at his place. Some years ago, Brad and his brother canoed from Colorado through Nebraska down the Missouri River to the Mississippi to New Orleans, where he biked to Key West, Florida, took a boat to Costa Rica, and then biked to southern South America. What adventurers! Don set up his tent on Brad's property and the dog that had been friendly to him earlier that day, had now decided Don did not belong there. The dog barked and growled and when Don put out his hand in a gesture of friendliness, the dog responded by showing his teeth. When he went back to the Ever Open Cafe for dinner, he called the house and spoke with Brad's wife who assured him the dog was now indoors and wouldn't be any more trouble for him.
The next day Don had the pleasure of joining Brad on a river rafting expedition. He ended up on the only protected river with no dams built on it left in the state of Colorado. For him it was a truly exhilarating experience. Tonight Don will be joining some co-workers from IBM in Longmont for a barbecue dinner at one of their homes. Tomorrow he plans to stop in to see Buzz Feldman, of High Gear Cyclery, also in Longmont, to have his bike serviced.
Because of the change in Don's travel plans, before he lost his granny gear, he was headed for Boulder from the opposite direction, Buzz has ben busy trying to get a group of cyclists to join Don on his ride into Boulder.
Don says "I'm having a great time here. It's tempting to stay in Colorado, it's so beautiful."
Faye Saunders created this report on Friday 7/3 and already has another one waiting to be sent, but I had to use the timed to get caught up with our East Coast relays before I attended to this:
7/2 9:30 pm
Back at the KOA in Craig, Colorado, Don met a couple from Seattle. The woman had been asked out on a date by Bill Gates while they were both in high school. However, she found him to be somewhat unsociable and turned him down. Years later, she ponders what could have transpired had she gone on that date....
Don and his cousin had arranged to meet when he arrived in Steamboat Springs, before the real climbing of the Rocky Mtns began. He was pushing hard to get there on time and, as a result, suffered a couple of flat tires. His cousin decided to pick him up about 15 miles outside of Steamboat Springs and arrived in her Hummer with a trailer along with her 2 year old son and 4 week old baby. They went to her house which was being remodeled. Staying with his cousin provided him with the opportunity to dry out his tent and sleeping bag and to get some laundry done. His cousin's two brothers came over for supper. It was a very nice catching up with family members he hadn't seen for many years. They lived "out in the sticks" and had a satellite link for internet access enabling Don to get an email message out to us on Wednesday. He also had a chance to stop in to see the elderly couple he had been wanting to visit in Hartzel.
On Thursday, Don was up at 5:15 to pack up the bike, have some breakfast, and, not wanting to cheat on the miles, have his cousin drive him back to the exact spot she had picked him up at the day before. He then rode into Steamboat Springs for the proclamation ceremony at city hall. Ken Brennan read the proclamation and then assisted Don with some chain difficulties he had been having. Ken proved to be a knowledgeable bike mechanic. Susan Bacon, a reporter, and Riley Polumbus, the Steamboat Springs Chamber of Commerce executive who arranged for Don's welcome, were also present. And what a welcome it was, Riley took Don to lunch, gave him a local bike map, put him up at the Rabbit Ears Hotel, and gave him a pass for the hot springs pool at the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association.
Using the bike map, he found a beautiful bike trail along the river which, among other niceties, had tunnels going under the railroad tracks. The Rabbit Ears Hotel where he also enjoyed an Internet connection, was built in 1952 and is considered a historical landmark. The hot springs experience was a first for Don, and he liked that very much as well. A man in the pool told him about a bike tour he had taken around the big island of Hawaii. He was not the first person to mention that bike trip, and Don thinks that may be his next.
This morning began with breakfast and a newspaper at the hotel, packing the bike and heading to Hwy 40 and Rabbit Ears Pass. When he had arrived at what he thought was the summit, he began having derailleur difficulties and now cannot use his granny gear. Then, having discovered that he was not at the summit after all, he had to walk the bike up the steeper grade. The Continental Divide sign proved to be a good back drop for a photo of his bicycle. He will be traveling on Hwy 14 instead of Trail Ridge Road, as previously planned, for a couple of reasons -- there are not as many hills (being unable to use his lowest gears), and it makes it easier for his relatives in Cheyenne to meet him.
While traveling from Hwy 40 to Hwy 14 near Walden, he ran into LOTS of mosquitoes. If he tried to walk his bike, he was covered with the insects. That gave him all the incentive he needed to ride instead. Even then, they were swarming around him. He learned very quickly how to smile with clenched teeth. (Are you itching yet?)
Upon reaching Walden, he met a 12 year old boy who took him to a city park where a large bicycle group had camped the night before. That is where Don is spending tonight, after having dined in a lovely restaurant called the River Rock Cafe.
Tomorrow he will trek toward Fort Collins and then on to Boulder.
This is out of sequence form the other reports as Don is already at the top of the Rockies, but I offer it toward the end of being complete. I am sorry as this report, by Faye Suanders, got misplaced as I barnstormed the east coast last week:
6/28 2:00 pm
Riding out of Roosevelt, Utah, Don began climbing the mesas when he was hit with a 40 mph headwind. It literally blew him off the road. He tried walking the bike for a while, but found he had less wind resistance while sitting down. Occasionally the wind would swirl around and catch him from the side or even from behind and he would think "Oh yes, keep that up!" But it would come straight at him again.
He set up the tent, still damp from the rain a couple nights ago, at a KOA campground near Vernal, Utah. Don prefers camping to staying in motels -- it's much less expensive and the campgrounds have all the amenities of a motel with the exception of an internet connection.
A couple of miles from Dinosaur, Colorado, Don got his first flat tire of the trip. He had just been hoping he could make it the whole way without one. About 1 mile later the same tire went flat again. He found a pebble inside and assumed that was what caused the second flat. Don is riding with his fingers crossed that the patch holds.
His description for where he is right now: "Beautiful countryside".
Unicycle Patrick is out there. We just don't know where since the seven page fax that Max Chen got from him yesterday leaves off at Folsom and both of us last talked to the UniMan, as U've seen in here,when he was leaving Reno. And if we can ever get a hold of him, we need to let him know that Steamboat Springs has a soak and shower waiting for both he and Don when they get there......
Faye Saunders spoke with Don Loomis yesterday and here is her fun report:
Sunday 6/27 1:00 pm
Having weathered a very heavy overnight downpour and a 9000 foot climb this past weekend, Don has made his way to Roosevelt, Utah, and hopes to be in Vernal by Sunday night. On Friday night, after having just set up his tent and putting his panniers inside, the sky let loose with a tremendous downpour lasting all night. And, despite the fact that he was camped right next to the train tracks with a train going by every hour, he slept just fine and woke up to clear skies. He packed up his damp tent and hit the road.
Since his kickstand broke even before leaving the San Francisco Bay Area, he has found the metal posts on the sides of the highways used for snowplow markers to be useful for leaning his bike against. The morning after the rain, Don came upon a rest stop with a sink where he did his laundry and washed up. Then came the 9000 foot climb. His speedometer registered 2.5 mph while walking the bike and 3 mph while pedaling. Since pedaling was far more exhausting, he chose to walk up the steepest part of the incline. And since what goes up must come down, he was then able to enjoy a 20 mile gently rolling downhill coast.
It began to get chilly and dark just as he was heading into Duchesne around 9:30 at night with the only cafe in town just about to close. They readily agreed to grilling a hamburger for him after which he took the remaining room at the motel that was being remodeled. The night clerk was a horse rancher by day. Because of a 7 year drought there they haven't been able to grow the alfalfa and other feed for the cows and horses. Importing the feed raises the cost significantly, resulting in this rancher taking a second job at the motel. Don enjoyed an omelet for breakfast, which has been a staple food item for him on this trip.
Skipping around, Don remembered that Colton, Utah, was a very interesting place to go through, since the town is not there anymore. Don met a man who lived there who had worked at the iron mine, which has since shut down. When the mine closed, the town died with it. The man ran a gas station and small store, which he was just closing so that he could attend a birthday party. It was good timing for Don, since that was the last place to find amenities until Duchesne.
The weather has been sunshine and not too windy -- "pretty close to perfect". The local radio stations here are playing a mixture 50's and 60's music with no particular theme, which Don has been enjoying very much. There was an ad on the radio for a truck shop in Vernal promising to give high performance trucks even more power so they can beat all the other trucks up the mountain. What Don found so amusing about that ad is that they really couldn't make that claim if they got more than one customer.
Don had been carrying two-gallon jugs of water in the paniers closest to his reach. He has decided to pitch one of the jugs of water and replace the contents of that panier with food items -- canned tuna, fresh fruits, cookies, etc.
There are some friends and a cousin that he hasn't seen since childhood that he is hoping to visit while in Colorado. He should be crossing the border into Colorado sometime today.
I caught up with Don at a phone booth about 70 miles outside of Salt Lake City this morning. Since Skot Pascal has already made it to Salt Lake and picked up the proclamation, Don is going to head for Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Since he has been feeling as though he was slightly behind schedule, he has been pushing hard to get as many miles in as he could. Now he will be able to relax a little bit and enjoy the ride.
The last time Don and I spoke, he was leaving Baker and had planned to camp whenever the sun went down before arriving in Delta. As darkness fell, a car stopped to ask if he needed anything. When he told them he just needed a place to set up his tent for the night, they directed him to a beautiful spot overlooking a canyon. By now, the night sky was being lit up with stars and Don decided to do without the tent and sleep under Mother Nature's blanket. He was so tired, he fell asleep in his bike clothes and was awakened by a resplendent sunrise. This also made for much quicker packing in the morning without his having to break down the tent.
There has been a little rain, but not much, the result of which was the most magnificent sunset Don has seen on his trip thus far. Normally the sun going down would indicate that it is time for him to find a place to camp, but since he had decided he would ride into the night last night, he was able to leisurely take in the entire pink clouded scenery. This tranquil setting was soon replaced with lightening bolts surrounding him which were not close enough to cause any worry, but provided a spectacular light show for his night time ride.
As he was leaving Baker, Utah, on Hwy 50 he saw a car stopped up ahead with a person standing beside it. The person turned out to be a bicyclist named George who was riding from Philadelphia to San Francisco. George was on a mountain bike towing a Bob trailer and, like Don, was carrying a heavy load of gear.
As for the the car, there were women in it that Don referred to as Thelma & Louise, from the 1991 movie. They were both brain cancer survivors from the state of Washington and had just visited Moab National Park where part of the Thelma & Louise film was shot. They even found the man who has the '66 Thunderbird used in the movie stored in his garage and had their picture taken in it. Don told them about Patrick Thomas, the unicyclist riding across the US raising money for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. They left a message for him on his cell phone. When one of the women mentioned she had written a book, Don told them about Martin Krieg's story and gave them the bikeroute.com web address. Their message that stuck with Don: "It is important to follow your dreams."
Don also ran into the pushamerica.org bike gang again. It appears they are taking almost the identical route that Don is into Chicago. Their plan is to arrive in Chicago two days before Don, so he will most likely cross their path again.
A couple of guys passing in a car stopped to talk. One of the men told Don about his Easy Racer and Bike Friday that he rides. The fellow was from Marin and now lived in North Carolina. Don gave the gentlemen the bikeroute.com website to look up when they get a chance.
Breakfast this morning was at the Family Tree Restaurant in Santaquin, Utah, named so because the walls are covered with family portraits. The home baked whole wheat bread with jam was delicious. Today he will take Hwy 6 to Helper, Utah, connecting to Hwy 40 which will lead him into Colorado. Don is curious to see what it will be like crossing the Rocky Mountains. Now that he has some miles on his legs, will it be easier or tougher than the Sierras were?
Don's quotes for the day: "I'm loving this." "I don't know if I'm going to want to go back to work after this."
The stories that Don tells of the people he meets shows us that the Mayor's Ride is a very effective way to spread the word of a vision of a National Bicycle Greenway. As Don and Patrick and the numerous other riders meet people out on America's roads, they are reaching people who never would have thought of such a thing. Thank you Don, and all the NBG riders for spreading this consciousness to everyone you meet.
Faye Saunders talked with Don Loomis last nite and again today. Here is the report she just sent us. And as U read it, bear in mind the fact that our TransAm unicyclist, Patrick Thomas, not far behind, is taking the same route:
After riding 80 miles through four mountain passes ranging in elevation from 6500 feet to 7600 feet, Don made his way to Ely, Nevada. He has one more big pass and a smaller one before getting to Baker, Nevada. For now, he's calling it a night at the White Pine Motel in Ely. The motel is run by a college student whose Dad owns it. They are from Barrow, Alaska, where the mayor rides his bicycle year round -- even when it is dark all day and -50 degrees! Barrow is the northern most city in the United States! If Don didn't already think he has had it pretty easy on this ride, he certainly must think so now after hearing that story.
When he got tired today, he found a nice green patch to lay in (he had been taking his naps on gravel and this appeared to be much nicer), but soon found the alluring rest area had a spikey plant that poked him. He decided to forgo the nap altogether and forage onward. He has been completely self-contained for the last 80 miles. Today seemed much cooler and he could see thunderstorms in the distant sky but they never caught up with him. He hopes not to run into rain, since back in Pollock Pines, California, the rear wheel of his bike came off the axle, crushing his rear fender. So if he does hit rain it will be interesting...
Out of boredom, he tried listening to the radio for a while. There weren't many stations to choose from, and instead of car talk radio shows, like they have in the cities, they had a horse talk show. They talked about horse shoeing and played country western music. It turned out listening to the radio was more boring than listening to nothing at all!
Most of his concentration was on riding today. After crossing the four mountain peaks, it was all downhill into Ely. Lunch consisted of a can of chicken noodle soup warmed by the desert heat and dinner was a frozen pizza that he microwaved at the hotel along with a carton of ice cream for dessert -- not his usual gastronomic fare. He will need to get to Baker before the stores close tomorrow, as he is low on food supplies and there isn't much in between the two towns.
Don made it to Baker by 2:30 pm!! With tailwinds helping him along the way, he will soon cross the border into Utah. His plans are to set up a tent wherever he is on the way to Delta when darkness falls. There was a little rain on one of the peaks today, but not much. The forecast is for isolated thunderstorms today and tomorrow. We probably won't hear back from him until he gets to Delta sometime tomorrow. Stay tuned....
6/21 9:00 pm
The last time Don and I spoke, he was on his bike a few miles outside of Fallon, NV. He filled his water jugs and continued through Middlegate into Austin late at night. In Middlegate, he met a man who installed telecom systems and knew all the roads. The telecom man recommended a route that splits off Hwy 50 and then rejoins it before Austin. It was the original Hwy 50 and was a very scenic route which involved more climbing but was well worth it for Don. After arriving in Austin, he enjoyed an evening of luxury at the Motel Lincoln where, for only $30, he even had internet access. He enjoyed a full meal there with a blackberry sundae for dessert. Sounds good to me!
Skipping around, Don told me about a fun episode that took place the day before. He had run into some motorcyclists and one of the women wanted the seat of his bicycle because it looked so comfortable. He said he would trade for her motor -- at which point they laughed and decided not to go through with the deal.
On Monday, he rode 70 miles from Austin through Eureka. This involved going over a few mountain passes which slowed him down a bit. He was tired today, and stopped by the side of the road a couple of times to take naps which he felt quite comfortable doing. When we spoke, he was happily settled into a campground in Eureka at an RV park. A couple had bought an old building that was part of the old Pony Express. It was a combination bar/general store/motel/restaurant/campground. Everything was run by generator. Needless to say, the shower was also quite primitive, about half insulated, but the price was right. No charge for camping or shower and he even had use of their phone, which was a tremendous benefit, since there is no cell phone coverage in that area. He set up his tent in a nice grassy area under a gazebo. It doesn't exactly sound like he's been roughing it! Feeling grateful for the hospitality, he left a big tip at the restaurant.
He plans to ride the 70 miles into Ely tomorrow, and then see how he feels. There are several passes to cross over, however, and he is one day behind where he wanted to be to arrive in Salt Lake City for the mayor's reception on Friday. He is considering riding part of the desert at night, which sounds quite eerie by the way he describes it. A car coming toward him looks at first as if it has only one headlight. Then as it got closer the car appeared to be surrounded by skyscrapers. He described it as "disorienting, but kind of neat."
As he was riding today he saw something red along the side of the road. He slowed to see that it was a patch of cactus plants. He's going to capture them on film tomorrow. He was also holding his camera on the handlebars today taking photos.
Don has a good attitude about making it to Salt Lake City on time, "if the wind cooperates".
"I'm gonna know Nevada real well when this is over. This is fun", and as he keeps saying, "I could do this for a living."
We have assigned a reporter to Don Loomis who calls in every day on the cell phone he is using. It takes its power from the solar panel he has rigged up on the back of of his trailer. And as such Faye Saunders has volunteered to call him back from her land line which has unlimited dialing so she can capture his adventure as per the words below. If any of U want to really learn what it's like out there on the road, get byline credit and sharpen your skills as a writer, we'd like to be able to assign reporters to our other riders. Here, he or she can call you from a pay phone which you can call them back on for the story. Our awesome unicyclist, who can barely lift a pen at the end of a day, needs such a writer, as does Skot Paschal who is riding Boise to Salt Lake right NOW!! And soon our east coast riders.
Perhaps if you are one of our riders, you might like to recruit a friend who can cover your ride and then have them send the stories to us here?? We really want your help in this ASAP!!
Here's Don Loomis:
Don Loomis Lovin' Hwy 50
by Faye Saunders
6/18 9:00 pm
As hot as it was cycling in Davis, CA, when Don was going up into the Sierras he saw snow on the side of the road. He was tempted to get off his bike and roll around in it, but it was dirty so he refrained. After a couple of days of not showering and wearing the same clothes, he was very pleased with the campground he found in Carson City. It has a pool, showers and even a laundry facility. He said it felt really good to get his clothes washed and to take a shower.
He has gotten rid of a few things in an attempt to lighten his load. He even wanted to get rid of the quarters left over from doing his laundry being very aware of the weight of his load after climbing the mountains.
Because it is so windy there, they gave him a campground next to the fence so he could burn his campfire. He was on his way to have dinner at what looked like a nice restaurant across the street from the campground. He was sure he would sleep well tonight.
6/19 3:00 pm
After a very nice dinner of chicken and vegies, Don hit the road at 5:30 this morning, despite having gotten up at 4:00. He thinks he needs more practice at packing up camp faster. He is now about 8 miles from Fallon, NV on Hwy 50. He figures to be in Salt Lake City on time, he will need to ride 100 miles/day. Right now he is traveling on flat land with the wind behind him, so that seems easy. It feels like it might even be a very slight downhill ride, as he can go almost 10 mph without even pedaling. There are mountains visible up ahead and so he is not so sure about that.
A waitress at the restaurant this morning knew someone who bought a ghost town and turned it into a resort. That sounded like a place he would like to visit sometime. The breakfast restaurant was in Sorensen, a town he and his ex-wife had stayed at 4 years ago. It brought back some memories. He also met a man at a bikeshop who was planning a cross country trip with his wife next year and was thinking of doing his ride on an Easy Racer Gold Rush. That got Don thinking about the bike he is riding and whether a long wheel base recumbent might have been a better choice. But he is quite happy with what he has for now.
Since places to eat have been sparse, he has been eating canned tuna and salmon, peanuts and almonds, and dried fruits. And drinking lots of water.
As he was riding along this morning, he came upon a group of 57 fraternity bicyclists riding cross country to raise funds for people with disabilities. One of the cyclists had taken a very bad fall and was being taken away by ambulance. The name of the group is pushamerica.org. Shortly after running into this group, he came upon a 2 x 4 broken in half in the bike lane. Wanting to help out any cyclists behind him, he stopped to remove the pieces of wood. As he was pulling the second piece, it hit him in the head. How ironic it was that he hurt himself while trying to help someone else avoid injury.
From Carson City to Silver Springs the "bike lane" had a rumble strip right in the middle of it. He had to ride in the road to avoid having his teeth loosened. From Silver Springs to Fallon has been heaven, though -- an 8 foot wide smooth lane to ride in. And Hwy 50 is really beautiful. Even though the thermometer says it is 95 degrees, he feels very comfortable in his white 30 SPF outfit. He is not hot at all.
There are some elderly friends in Colorado he'd like to find time to visit with. Also a sister-in-law whose daughter is #1 in archery who live in Cheyenne.
The plan for the rest of the day is to get about 50 miles past Fallon, kick a rattlesnake out of the way, and set up camp before it gets too dark.
"I may not want to go back to work after this. This is great! This is nice. I could do this for a living."
Faye Saunders talked to Don Loomis last nite. Here is her report:
As hot as it was cycling in Davis, CA, when Don was going up into the Sierras he saw snow on the side of the road. He was tempted to get off his bike and roll around in it, but it was dirty so he refrained. After a couple of days of not showering and wearing the same clothes, he was very pleased with the campground he found in Carson City. It has a pool, showers and even a laundry facility. He said it felt really good to get his clothes washed and to take a shower.
He has gotten rid of a few things in an attempt to lighten his load. He even wanted to get rid of the quarters left over from doing his laundry being very aware of the weight of his load after climbing the mountains.
Because it is so windy there, they gave him a campground next to the fence so he could burn his campfire. He was on his way to have dinner at what looked like a nice restaurant across the street from the campground. He was sure he would sleep well tonight.