Monthly Archives: February 2010

Lake City, Florida

Elevation gained: 693ft/Mileage today: 86/Total mileage: 86

Exactly, 6.7 miles into my ride, I broke my first pledge – not to eat fast food. I had breakfast at Chick-fil-A (“Since 1946, always closed on Sunday”). This chain is about to open franchises in California and when it does it will be “game over” for the current popularity of “In-N-Out”. You heard it here first.

My waitress, Lori, noticed my riding attire and said: “ Ya’ll getting some exercise? I’m doin’ that for my diabetes. And, ya know what? It turns out exercise is good for all kinds of other things like your heart, your lungs and losin’ weight.”

Wow. Who new? I think we all need to get the word out on this.

The ride into Jacksonville was wet and cold. At one point, I camped out under an overpass to get dry. Once the storm decreased to a mere downpour, I rode over the Hart Bridge and into downtown. The Hart Bridge portion of the ride gets a 9 rating on the Major Dickason scale*. The usable portion of the shoulder was less than 12 inches and the cars in such close proximity flooded me with dirty spray. To add to the excitement, there are several places on the bridge where sections are joined with metal plates looking frighteningly like the gaping maw of some Mavic eating machine.

Once in Jacksonville, I rode to City Bikes to see if they had rain covers for panniers. I knew it was a long shot seeing as this is “The Sunshine State”, but it also gave me a chance to get dry. It’s a great shop and the employees are helpful – including with directions.

After departing Jacksonville, I rode the length of the Baldwin Trail. It’s a bicycle roadway built on the bed of an old railroad line. This was the only scenic part of the ride today. No cars and (given the weather) no other people for 15 miles.

The remainder of the day was spent on Hwy 90. This roadway is straight and lined with slash pines, but otherwise unremarkable. About the only thing that is positive is that it is almost perfectly flat.

As I rode, the weather changed from cold, grey and rainy to just cold and grey with fun 20-30 mph gusting headwinds. At the 60 mile point, I was nearing Osceola National Forest where I had planned to camp. But, nowhere today was I able to find a gas canister for my stove. So, if I were going to camp, dinner would consist of my remaining water, a single Mounds candy bar and less than favorable weather. My only other choice was to continue to ride to Lake City and hope that they had a hotel. With the sun setting and my fatigue rising, I decided to eliminate the uncertainty and as I pedaled, I placed a call to W.C.C. (Wife Command Central). My lovely bride did a quick Internet search and reported that Lake City had a number of hotels – and the decision was made. All I had to do was punch out the remaining 25 miles before it grew too dark.

A number of years ago, the great British explorer, Wilfred Thesiger was asked his thoughts about an explorer who was at that time traversing Africa’s Congo basin. Thesiger commented that while the activity was interesting, it couldn’t be called an “adventure” because the explorer had a satellite phone and could raise help whenever needed.

With all deference to Mr. Thesiger (who was an amazing individual), after today’s ride, I’m quite satisfied trading adventure for a hot shower and a cold beer.

(*The Major Dickinson scale represents the number of consecutive cups of this blend of extremely strong Pete’s coffee that would be required to raise one’s pulse to the same level as that resulting from the activity in question.)


Filed under Biking U.S.

Jacksonville, Florida

Distance: 3,200 miles

Climbed: 33,000 feet

When you’re waiting in the airport departure area and Clyde The Glide” Drexler sits down next to you, it can only be a favorable augury. And, it was. Today, went as smoothly as a Drexler finger roll. For starters, Continental Airlines accepted my bike and gear with only an additional $100 charge. More importantly, my concerns about mishandling of my bike by baggage handlers and T.S.A. proved unfounded.

On a related, (but not really) note, the Continental crew actively enforced the limitations on “carry on” luggage. In my last decade of flying, I’ve never seen an airline actually require passengers to place their baggage in the test container prior to boarding. The new increased fees for baggage create a strong incentive for passengers to bring even more on board. So, hopefully, other airlines will do the same as Continental.

While en route, I did a back of the coaster calculation (I should note that it took several beers for me to obtain the requisite number of coasters for this exacting computation). It looks like for each hour of air travel, I will be riding 10-12 days. This country is much larger than it appears on the map.

I assembled the bike, racks and panniers in my hotel room while wolfing down a large pizza. Hopefully, it will be enough to feed the mitochondria for tomorrow’s ride.


Filed under Biking U.S.

What I’m bringing.

Warning: If you aren’t a velo gearhead – skip this post.

As mentioned previously, I chose a Bruce Gordon “Rock and Road” as my bike. I like the quality and having a custom frame that fits me correctly given the distance I will be covering. The only changes I made were to replace the “rat traps” with SPD pedals and to swap out the seat for a Brooks B-17 saddle. The Brooks has a completely old school look to it, but for the next few months I’m all function v. form. I think my gluteus maximus will appreciate the comfort of the B-17.

For panniers, I chose the Arkel GT-54s in the back and the GT-18/18BP in the front. I like the way the 18BP will convert into a backpack for when I want to enjoy a hike. I know many favor the Ortlieb, but, damn it, a man needs pockets to store his stuff. The Arkel has many, while the Ortlieb is more in the nature of a large waterproof sack.

For camping gear, I’ll be using a Marmot +0 sleeping bag, Thermarest pad, Outdoor Research bivy sack, Jetboil stove and a minimal amount of cooking gear.

Electronics include a camera, iPod, laptop, cellphone, Garmin 750 and far too many electrical cords.

The remainder is clothes, a few days of freeze dried food, three water bottles, toiletries, maps, books, repair equipment…and at least a small touch of anxiety.


Filed under Biking U.S.

Thanks for all the…support?

I told a few family and friends about the ride and asked if anyone wanted to join me. It was heartening to hear the outpouring of confidence and support.

‘The question is whether I’d plan to join you at the beginning (since you might be eaten by wild dogs on the trip) or much later on (since you might have been eaten by wild dogs early in the trip). Decisions, decisions.”

“Are you carrying a gun? Taser? Pepper spray?”


– “Is it true you’re being sponsored by Hooters and have to visit each one?”

– “What’s the over/under bet right now… on total miles before

– giving up

– crashing

– wondering what the #%@ you think you’re doing?”

Thank you all. Your concern is touching.


Filed under Biking U.S.

The Route

Here’s my planned route for the ride. I’m going to begin in Jacksonville, Florida in about ten days and ride west. (I’m having a bit of problems with Google Maps, so you will need to adjust the map to get the full view.)

If the weather is clear, I’ll take the northern path through New Mexico, Utah and Nevada. If not, it will be the southern route and up the west coast. I’ll make the decision when I hit Austin – hopefully, by the end of March.


Filed under Biking U.S.

The Plan

I’ve decided that the immediate “what’s next” for me will be to ride my bicycle across the U.S. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was in college. After many cross-country road trips by car, the thought occurred to me that it would be wonderful to see the country at a much slower speed. Now, I have that opportunity. And, it’s a good way to unload some of the caloric energy I’ve been storing around the waist these past few years while sitting behind a desk.

After some research, I decided to buy a semi-custom touring
bike from Bruce Gordon. The man is quite a character, with a shop that could belong to Dr. Emmet Brown. But in the touring world his bikes have a great reputation. I pick the mine up tomorrow.

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Filed under Biking U.S.

Rolling forward.

It’s been a very emotional and tiring journey over the last year as we’ve worked through the process of supporting Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems. I could write volumes about Sun, its culture and employees. It was the most special of companies, but unless you worked there, you just wouldn’t understand.

So, I won’t try to explain. Instead, it’s time to move on. I know the transition to “whatever is next” will be a personal challenge. It will be difficult to let go of what I considered to be a wonderful job. But, it’s time to get started. To that end, last week I went to visit Bruce Gordon up in Petaluma, California. Bruce is an icon in the world of touring bikes having made them for more than 35 years. More on this to come.


Filed under Biking U.S., Personal