Author Archives: hfandel

Solid Ground

i’ve been sitting here staring at this computer screen for damn near a half an hour now with nothing to write. It’s over and i don’t know what to say.

We don’t have to bike tomorrow. In fact we don’t have to bike ever again for all that matters, and honestly, that’s fine with me, because we’re home. 4,942.2 miles and 90 days later, we’ve made it across the country and then some. It’s time to rest our bones.

Together with all of your help we were able to raise over $4000 for 4Walls International. THAT IS AMAZING! Seriously, this money will directly improve the lives of many. Together we are providing an affordable, sustainable and environmentally sound future to those who need it most. We thank you with every ounce of our beings.

and now a moment to share some photos that never made it onto the blog.

got pizza delivered to a random field in Ohio

when a man's got to go, a man's got to go

nice shorts

some super mature kids at the dunes

dogs seem to like me

goofin in glacier

batman signal PB&J

real gangsters ride bikes at 3AM up a mountain

we are #2 buddies

Goodbye for now and we love you all dearly.


Barson St’s Exquisite Black Hole

Well, the interview in San Mateo went swimmingly, and has been published here, in the San Mateo Daily Journal.  It was truly a pleasure to cook Heather breakfast and enjoy it together in a beautiful backyard-garden as we talked about our adventure.  Many thanks to Winnie and Sofia for hosting us for a night and allowing us to conduct the interview at their house!

The next day we continued down our favorite highway (the 1, of course) to a little coastal town called Santa Cruz, where we were promptly taken in by the most lovely family you could ever imagine:  a whole house of bright, colorful, energetic UCSC students who are literally down for anything.

Family photos on the wall of 313 Barson St

Stephen (the one who could endearingly be considered the old man of the family) and i whomped around in New Zealand together, so Sam and i were immediately welcomed.  Within minutes we felt like we had just come home to our brothers and sisters and basked together in the luxury of time.  A sunset and just a few waves later, after having been officially inducted into the family, we were, to be honest, beginning to dread our departure from 313A Barson St.

Officially adopted. This is our gorgeous handmade frame on the infamous wall--frame compliments of Keith

But what do ya know, that’s the very moment we were blessed with a message from an 88.1 KZSC radio host who expressed interest in having us on his show!  Not only did we get to stick around and hang with our new mates, but we also managed to land a live, on-the-air interview!  Blistering barnacles, we’ve been in Santa Cruz for so long i’ve cut my fingernails into Stephen’s wastepaper basket two times. twice.  That may be an exaggeration, but i promise, ecstasy swathed our home as we celebrated the interview and good company by making sushi, going to a carnival, and body surfing until we tired out the ocean.

Sam and Keith catching waves

The sushi feast we threw together for family dinner

But yes, information about the radio show!! The radio show is called Talkabout and is aired at 7PM Pacific time on Wednesday, 8/25 on 88.1 KZSC–listen here (click “listen now” in the top right)!! We don’t know too much about it, but we think there will be a part where listeners can call in and ask us questions about our trip/4Walls.  Tune in, enjoy the show, and we’ll throw up a post shortly after we get off the air!  Chur!

Seattle to Portland: Camping with the homeless

the homeless hustler himself

This is Jerry. While most would consider him homeless, he would disagree. Jerry is on permanent vacation, a transient being lost somewhere between summers in Washington and winters in Arizona. Honest, raw, and completely insane, Jerry has been successfully homeless for more than 10 years now. I say ‘successfully’ because he shows no desire for change (unless it’s loose haha) and revels in his current lifestyle.  He makes more than enough to eat and travel seasonally, and seems to have befriended a life of solitude.

But there is a dark side of Jerry that few ever get to know. Most people pass his layered smile with barely a glance, some may laugh at his sign and throw some coins, and maybe someone will stop for some small talk, but all and all, no one really talks to Jerry. So when our paths crossed while Gypsy camping (sleeping in public parks) in Centralia, Washington, Jerry would finally have an audience for his story. We burned the midnight oil as Jerry relived his life before us, reminiscing about times when he stood up against ‘the man’, hid 50 ‘cakes’ of acid from the authorities, and even desperately planted a quarter-pound of weed on some innocent kid. However, these stories weren’t always what you would consider coherent linear strings. Jerry would consistently interrupt his own stories with tidbits of dementia, inaudible mutterings, and vulgar Tourette’s-like interjections. Jerry is a walking anti-drug commercial, but that doesn’t mean his story is any less important than the next.

the seattle crew in motion

So this is our Seattle crew. On the left is Bridgid, niece of Don Triman (of the F&M Community), to her right is Brian, her lovely significant other, and of course, Henry, stretching it out on the mats of a Seattle Rock Gym. This happy couple was kind enough to take care of us, feed us amply with local produce, and share their deep love for rock-climbing. Seattle through their eyes was simply beautiful, and we thank them.

We blew our collective kiss to Seattle and we were back on the road. But this road is different, much different. We’re coastal now and we’re heading south. This means goodbye headwinds and hello fog. Each geography offers it’s own beauty and danger, and respect for both is the only way to survive. We’ve only begun to lick the salty winds of the Pacific, so who knows what perfect storms are waiting for me and Henry as we travel further south…

But before I leave you to go and say ‘whatsup’ to Portland, I want to share with you a comment Henry and I recently received on our blog that was exceptionally moving.

“Hey there guys, my name is Travis Collier and I am soldier currently serving in the United States Army and I am deployed downrange in the Maysan Province of Iraq. My parents recently took their vacation in the beautiful north west region of our great country and met a couple of crazy bikers along the way who they gave a ride to, that would be you. I read most of your blog and thought it was pretty damn cool, please keep in mind this is coming from the guy who rides in top of a humvee everyday of his life with a heavy duty machine gun and a tactical rifle, not to mention every cool toy a boy has ever dreamed of playing with; IE night vision.  I just wanted to say that I would like to donate a little bit to your cause and I think what your doing is very noble and very cool. I know I may not be able to donate much but being a soldier i know this better than most sometimes the smallest things matter the most.  I wish you best luck in journey and i hope that you continue your cause.

Spc Travis A Collier
United States Army, Field Artillery”

Travis is right, sometimes the smallest things really are the most important, and that’s exactly what this trip has always been about. 4Walls is working hard right now with your donations to provide clean water, food and shelter to the people who need it the most. In the big painting, our bike trip is but a drop of a paint, but if enough people are encouraged to paint with us – we have the ability to improve the lives of many. Time to grab our paintbrushes.

Did we just…yeah, we did.

SURPRISE!  A fresh blog post!  Bet you weren’t expecting this to be here.

On our way out of Sandpoint, Idaho, Sam and i had the fortune of meeting and riding with a touring cyclist from Germany.  His name was Heinz, and he had been riding his bike around the world for over 46 years.  46 YEARS!  He’s ridden in every single country of the world and through all sorts of conditions.  We enjoyed our ride together and soaked up as much advice as possible, but before long our paths split and we biked on still trying to wrap our minds around Heinz’s adventures.

Seen it all from the saddle

Later that night, with Heinz and his 46 year bike tour still tumbling through our heads, we decided to do a night ride over Flowery Trail Pass in order to reach a good camping spot for the night–plus, a night ride just sounds like fun, and the road we would be riding would have absolutely no traffic.  Also, we thought that Flowery Trail Pass might actually be our only chance to do one safely.  Well, we were right about the road being safe…but, as we found out, riding a bike up a mountain pass in utter darkness is extremely difficult.  Vision plays a pretty big role in balance, apparently, so we probably ended up swerving and criss-crossing our way into doing double the expected milage of the pass.  In the end, the night ride over Flowery Trail Pass was anything but flowery; it was a 2:30 am test of both mental and physical fitness, which, on second thought, was not such a good idea.  We made it to Chewelah by 3am, where we drearily pitched our tent and fell asleep immediately upon crawling into our sleeping bags.

Actually, that night in Chewelah would be one of the last times we would camp before reaching the coast!  In Republic, WA, we stayed with Jeanine and Paul, a very active, free-spirited couple who were happy to let us stay in their yurt.  The next day, outside of Okanogen, we had the pleasure of staying on Filaree Farm with Amber and J.C, who gave us the master tour through the orchards and cooked a delicious meal with heaps of fresh veggies.  Just beyond Twisp, after running two flat tires in the same day, Grace and Keith, two young, outdoorsy biologists rescued us with a ride back to their place to use their pump.  All four of us were having a good time talking as i fixed the flat, and before we knew it our plans had changed–they invited us to stay the night.  The next day we biked over Washington Pass, thus beginning our descent to the Pacific!  From there it took only two days to rest our eyes on the ocean surrounding the beautiful San Juan Islands.  By the time we reached the shore, Sam and i were breathing only through our noses because the ocean smelled so good.  Still haven’t gotten over it.  We spent our first night on the coast sleeping in the boat of a friend we had made while riding the ferry–John, who was out to cycle San Juan isl. with his brother.  Being on a boat for the evening was a good change of pace, and definitely was a nice welcoming to the Pacific coast.  It’s funny to think we’ve just made it across the country on our bicycles, but the journey isn’t over yet.  But hey, that’s definitely something i’m happy about; riding down the coast is going to be a whole new ball-game.

The Big Blue

Be Like Sun: Warm up Asphalt.

Finally, a chance to get it out!  I’ve been thinking about writing this post since OHIO.

Every day i’m on my bike for an average of 7 hours.  That’s an average of 49 hours a week.  Forty-nine glorious hours a week, happily rolling over little rocks glued together with tar and concrete…I WISH.  I mean yeah, i’ll be the first one to admit it: they’re mostly glorious hours, where i can sit in the saddle with my feet spinning amusing thoughts between my ears…but they definitely aren’t all delightful.

See, there are these other bodies traveling the same paths that i am–big, heavy, fast, loud masses of metal and rubber.  Cars. Trucks. Motorcycles. Eighteen wheelers.  They take about half a second to pass me on my bike, and within that half second, the humans conducting them assume an enormous amount of power–my life is in their hands.  Now, i’d be a fool if i didn’t do everything humanly possible to keep my life out of the hands of a stranger, but to some extent, there’s only so much cyclists can do; we effectively trust and rely on motorists not to kill us.

But life and death are the more obvious implications of the car vs. cyclist interaction, and although it is important to keep safety in mind, i’ve been thinking about motorists power as an opportunity for benevolence.  I can’t express how insanely world-shattering a kind gesture from a driver can be.  A thumbs up stuck out the window of a passing car can instantly deliver energy to weary quadriceps at the end of a long hill climb.  A simple wave is enough to make a cyclist feel visible again after a close call with the last passerby.  A supportive cheer is enough to make sudden rain or biting cold feel like a motherly embrace.  The more i think about it, the easier it seems to make the road a happy place for both cyclists and drivers alike.  Please, if you see someone on two wheels moving themselves down the road by the power of their own legs, give them some support.  They’ll love you for it, and you might get something out of seeing their surprised smile, too.

Even the Hoff is doing it!

Whew, now that i finally got that out of my system, i can update y’all on where we’ve been for the past week!

Jackson, WY Stayed with WS hosts Chuck and Karen!  How wonderful it was to be part of a family again–and i really mean it, they made us feel like we had lived in their home for ages.  Chuck shared with us his passion for bow-hunting by cooking up some elk burgers made with meat from an elk he had killed himself.  It was amazing to learn about hunting from a person who truly strips the pastime down to its most simplest form; Sam and i quickly developed a deep respect for Chuck, even though (read: especially because) he brought some pretty tough banter to the table.  Karen, on the other hand, stole our hearts with her dedication to bicycle advocacy and her insight into gender roles in Jackson.  She summed up one perspective with a little humor, stating, “Jackson is the town where men become boys, and women have three jobs.”  Whew–let that stew in your noggin for a few minutes.  On a different note, thanks Karen and Chuck for sharing your home with us!

Mom and Pop for a few nights!

Grand Teton/Yellowstone Once we left Jackson, the adventure through Grand Teton and Yellowstone began.  We saw tons of wildlife and met such amazing people!  Furry highlights included a Grizzly with her two cubs, a lone wolf, two adolescent moose, and a large herd of elk.  As far as people go, we camped with Jo (see Day 32-36) for a night, camped with a group of 4 male cyclists headed to Oregon for two nights, and spent one night with a group of 5 strong women biking from Oregon back to college in Maine!  Lucia, Amie, Dan, Claire, and Tamara, happy trails!  We’ll be following your blog whenever we can!

Amie droppin' logic on the boys

Two other notable characters we met in between the national parks were gentlemen by the name of Tom and Ted.  Sam and i approached their campsite late one evening to ask for directions…before we knew it our tooshies were planted at their dinner table and seasoned pork loin sat below our drooling mouthes.  Man, do they know how to treat guests.  Their hospitality may have unfortunate consequences for others, though, because Sam and i may or may not be inclined to act lost more often…

On a more serious note, our experience with Tom and Ted unexpectedly highlighted the power of sharing good ideas; after only a few minutes of telling them about our trip and 4Walls’ vision, our two friendly hosts were moved to make a significant contribution to the cause.  To quote Tom, “Ted, go get your wallet.”  Here’s to Tom and Ted for not just telling us,”man, that’s a good idea,” but actually putting their money where there mouth is; it’s people like these two that turn “good ideas” into reality.

Post-Park Depression (PPD) Alright, so after exiting Yellowstone yesterday, Sam and i were convinced we had discovered some type of national park deprivation induced depression.  Gardiner, MT, which is actually a really nice town, just wasn’t doing it for us after days and days of woodlands and wildlife.  We were extremely lucky though, because the powers that be sent us the one and only cure for PPD: Patrick Maloney.  There i was, standing on the side of the road singing the blues, when out of nowhere jumped my junior year roommate and ice hockey teammate himself.  What a surprise.  Felt kinda like biking over a 10,000 ft mountain pass with a stream of [slowly] oncoming traffic cheering for us.  Good to see you, Pat.

Well, we’re Northbound.  Look for the blog to come back in all it’s glory once we get out of Glacier and over to Seattle.  Shouldn’t be too long!

Adjusting focus under the Tetons

Here it is, right in front of you: possibly the most important blog post we’ve written so far.  Sam and i have spent the last week or so cycling the great plains and wooded wilderness of Wyoming, and man (and woman), have our gears been turning–the ones between our ears, that is.  Actually, Shoshoni’s volunteer fire department was summoned for the first time in years because Sam’s big ol’ ears started smoking…and i thought increased surface area made for more efficient heat radiation.  Hmmm…maybe earwax changes things.

Anyway, what we’ve been thinking about is making our fund/awareness-raising efforts more efficient.  As you may know, our main tactic thus far has been public canvassing, and it has certainly produced results.  Having set our sights on the moon, however, we’re not quite satisfied with how things are going.  Neighborhoods conducive to canvassing are few and far between–especially in the West/Mid-West–plus, walking door-to-door and pitching 4Walls’ vision requires energy that is often absent after a long day on the road.  Thank you, canvassing, but we think we can do better–in fact, we know we can.

Our new idea is to use the blog not only to relay stories and allow readers to follow our adventure, but also as a tool.  Think about it this way: the purpose of the bike trip is to start a fire.  Until now, by canvassing, we’ve practically been rubbing two sticks together.  This isn’t the stone age!  We have the internet at our fingertips (mostly); we can consistently reach over 300 readers a day through our blog!  If we focused our energy on directing people to our blog and spent a little more time reminding readers of how powerful they are, we should be able to get the word out further and drastically improve results.  I guess it’s go-time, then.

We’ve printed out sheets of paper with our names and blog URL on them, and we’re going to make sure they make their way into the hands of every individual we meet on the road.  Seriously, you should see the way we’re passing these bad-boys out…you’d think we lost our cat and are biking across the country looking for her.  Heeeere, Whiskers!  Heeere, Whiskers!

Yeah, that used to be an 8X11 sheet of paper.

In short, our blog is now the official face of our adventure.  We believe this is going to be an effective change, but understand that it does have it’s shortcomings.  Even if we manage to get 5 new people to look at our blog every day, we’re not going to reach our goal if we don’t do a good job inspiring the new readers to support 4Walls.  We realize that.  That’s why i’d like to make you aware of a social psychological phenomenon called diffusion of responsibility.

Diffusion of responsibility is a phenomenon that occurs in large groups of people, where individuals assume that, because so many others are aware of the situation at hand, he or she is less responsible to take action.  Our blog, and the efforts of our trip in general, is one of those situations.  The fact is that 300 people check out our blog every day–and that’s just an average.  We’ve had as many as 500 hits in a day (before we started passing out the URL purposefully).  If everyone who has visited our blog thus far donates $10 to the cause, 4Walls will receive more than enough money to help a family build a home for themselves ($10*500= $5,000).  However, there’s lots of potential to make an even larger impact; a URL is something that is pretty easy to pass on to friends and family.  If every person we hand it to contributes to 4Walls and passes it on to their friends and family, we’ll be able to create a larger ripple and reach our goal that much faster.  The key is that everybody who supports our journey and 4Walls’ vision needs to do so literally in addition to spiritually–that’s the only way we’ll be able to make a difference.  Remember, the only one who can help is you; the only hurdle to overcome is diffusion of responsibility.

Alright, it’s back into the woods for us.  From here (Jackson) we’re riding north through Grand Teton National Park and into/through Yellowstone.  Not sure when we’ll have internet again, but as always, we’ll update you as soon as possible!

Day 31: The Black…Hills?

Badboys in the Badlands?

Well, well, it looks like the bicycle seat-breaker and i have a whole month of cross-country cycling under the waistband of our padded spandex.  Who’d have thought two knuckle-heads could have made it this far and still have enough energy to–*ZzzZzz*Zzz…

–Huh?  Oh…that’s awkward.  Alright, let’s get down to business.

Once again, Sam and i were blessed with amazing WarmShowers hosts!  We spent the last two days getting to know Fred and Sherry, learning about sustainable architecture and Do It Yourself home living, sharing bike stories, and of course, getting interviewed.  Fred even found time to make an attempt on my life with a super-spicy home-made jalepeño popper!  Man, did we have a blast.  Seriously though, Fred and Sherry were two of the most genuine and comfortable people we’ve had the pleasure of meeting on our way West, and we hope the friendship we’ve found continues to grow stronger!

Two rando's with the DIY king and queen

The interview!  Well, while not all the information in the story is completely accurate, we’re extremely grateful that Rapid City’s NBC affiliate took the time to cover our story!  The interview will help us reach hundreds–maybe even thousands—of people we normally would not have been able to connect with.  Check it out here!

Alright, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty.  Riding through The Black Hills was definitely a highlight of our trip;

the hills are absolutely gorgeous, and the terrain is unlike anything we’ve encountered so far.  The area makes up a national forest of almost entirely pines and birches growing around towering rock faces.  As you can imagine, the air smells wonderful.  We were able to stop at both the Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse memorials to appreciate the views, and they were quite impressive. From a cyclists point of view, though, i have more to say about the Black Hills themselves, rather than the tourist attractions embedded within them.  After all, we spent 90% of the day riding through the forest, and only about 2% of it admiring sculpted rock faces.  Don’t get me wrong, the memorials are wonderful and worth admiring, but they did not take my breath away.  They did not push my muscles to their limit, leave my quads trembling, or send adrenaline coursing through my veins.  The Black Hills–they tested us; they thew our spirits into the road-side ditch every time we turned a corner just to find more uphill; they sent us into raucous celebration at the top of every climb, and on each eye-watering downhill, they put us as close to unassisted flight as we may ever come.  I suggest that the Black Hills are not just hills–they are not even mountains.  As a cyclist, The Black Hills are…well, to be honest, i can’t even really find the words right now.  Ask me later.

Our only picture within the Black Hills...oh, the irony