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

It’s so hard to say goodbye…

Time to blow out the candles and make a wish, Henry and i recently celebrated our half-way anniversary! On day 45, smack in the middle of our 90 day pilgrimage, we found ourselves in a Montanan basement of an ex-Yellowstone Ranger reminiscing like old men about the “good ol’ days.” Only the overpowering smell of our Ramen noodles could rival the aroma of nostalgia in the room. So many lovely people, so many lovely places, too many goodbyes. This is hard.

Sure, there are a lot of things we miss on the road. We miss the smells of our homes, we miss food that doesn’t come from a can, we even miss walking occasionally, but what we really miss the most, is consistency. Let me explain.

Usually, when we meet someone on the road, we only have about 24 hours to live out an entire relationship. The laughs roll longer, the conversations get deeper, and the break-ups are near impossible. This is life on the road, beautiful and ephemeral. It’s hard to accept that we will most likely never see these people again.

But it’s not just that, consistency is a peace of mind. It’s being able to let your guard down. It’s not having to worry about where to sleep for the night. The only consistency we have is a lack there of. This is our blessing and our curse.

These are just some thoughts that have been roasting for a few days, just wanted to give you all a taste.

… and without further adieu, here’s what we’ve been up to.

The Hoppa and the Bushman

nighttime mappin'

Riding into Glacier National Park, we ran into our dear friend Julian, the  happenin’ Hoppa (half-chinese and half-caucasian) from LA. It was love at first site. Easy to say, Julian was on the same wavelength. We would spend two whole days together running a muck in the park before painfully parting in East Glacier (including jumping off the bridge that Forrest Gump ran on, campsite hopping, and once again, falling asleep in public) But don’t worry, we agreed to rendezvous in Seattle and bike the San Juan Islands together. One last hoorah! Follow his bike ride to British Columbia here.

Now for Tim the Bushman. With a boy-like wonder, Tim has been hiking the American wilderness for near 120 days now, and isn’t ready to quit. He knows how to hunt with his bare hands, start fires with mushrooms, and sleep suspended from trees. His manliness can not be measured by scientific instruments, he would break them instantly. Tim doesn’t read books, he stares them down until he gets the information he wants. Track the legend here.

The Road to the Sun

nowhere near the top...

It’s 4:30AM, and Henry roles over and asks, “Are we really going to do this?” i grunt inaudibly, wipe the slobber from my mouth, and yell over to the next tent, “Julian! It’s time.” Today we are going to bike the Road to the Sun (that’s the actual name) and I’m sure you can figure out why. It’s just less than 4000 vertical feet stretched out between 50 miles of uninhibited glacial wilderness. It doesn’t just take your breath away, it sucks it out of you and replaces it with goose-bumps instead. Oftentimes we risked spilling over the cliff’s edge because our eyes had drifted from the yellow lines to the glistening snowcaps of Northern Montana. Humbling? Yes. Hard? Yes. Fun? Without saying.

Huckleberries

bear candy

A close relative to the blueberry, the Hucks are native to mid-alpine altitudes, the pacific northwest, and my belly. How good are they? Imagine your favorite berry, be it raspberry or even acai, now multiply that by 7000. That’s how good. We’ve eaten them in almost every form: ice cream, jam, in pancakes and just plane jane (after a huckleberry picking lesson from the locals). But we’re not the only ones who enjoy these mountainous munchies… our closest competitor is our old friend Mr. Bear. In fact, the reason Glacier National Park has the highest bear concentration in Montana is because of the Huckleberry itself. We met a young Grizzly the other day who was so preoccupied with the search, that he didn’t even stop to say hello (but i wasn’t too upset). It ‘s true, money doesn’t grow on trees, but Huckleberries do grow in bushes.

7B for life

The Sandpoint Crew

Sandpoint, Idaho a.k.a. paradise found.

It was about 9 o’clock when Hen and i rolled into the lake town community after a healthy 95 mile-day when re ran into Nathan, Kelly, Brendan, Glenn and Lele. We stopped for advice for where to stealth-camp in the area, and ended up talking for the next three hours about adventure, hitchhiking and riding mechanical bulls. More friends came and the stories kept coming; we liked these kids, they felt like home. We would spend two wonderful nights (tenting in Lydia’s backyard) with our new found crew in Sandpoint, this is the benefit of being ahead of schedule for once. Time always seems to rob us of the people we love the most, so we counted our blessings for being able to stay as long as we did. This is the first time that Henry and I have truly felt normal during the entire trip, we were just one of the bunch, and that’s all we could have asked for.

Well that’s it for now, we’re off to the cascades, and we’ll do our best to write home soon. Love you all.

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 32-36: Head west young men.

If you’re reading this blog post, it means Henry and I have NOT been eaten by Grizzlies in the Rockies; we are very much alive still. But while we’re on the topic of bears, I’ll share with you some mountain wisdom we’ve gained from the locals.

“You can tell whether you’re around black bears or grizzlies by their poop. Black bear poop has berries and twigs, and grizzly poop has bells and bear spray. Stay away from the latter.”

To explain, the ‘bells’ once belonged to tourist’s dogs (whom are no longer with us), and the ‘bear spray’ once belonged to a silly human who thought that an aerosol can and some pepper could somehow defeat a 1000 lb. killing machine. Needless to say, Henry and I have learned to hide our scent like ninjas, in order to avoid any furry confrontations while in the Rockies.

"good morning!"

As you’ve probably noticed, it’s been quite a few days since our last entry. And as liberating as it is to be void of any form of technology (cellphones, internet, and even running water) we’ve missed talking to you guys. So for future reference, if you don’t hear from us for a few days, it’s not that we don’t love you, it’s just that we’re probably knee-deep in the sticks. But if you don’t hear from us in more than a few days (a few weeks for example), you should probably start organizing a search party. That being said, here’s what we’ve been up to…

Getting stranded…

After emerging from the Black Hills, we plan a healthy 85-mile day from Custer, South Dakota to Redbird, Wyoming. No tricky trails and not even too many turns. No surprises, right? Here’s what we didn’t plan for…

that's right, 109 degrees fahrenheit.

Okay, a little bit of heat, no problem, we’ve had worse. A little bit of sunscreen and a lotta bit of water, let’s keep trucking. A few third-degree burns and two pairs of chapped lips later, Henry and I find ourselves 85 miles from 0ur start that day, but no Redbird. This can’t be right, maybe we passed it? No, we would have noticed, maybe it’s up the road, ehhh, let’s just ask this cop just incase.

“Redbird? You’re standing in it.”

“Wait this is Redbird? Our map said there should be a town here.”

“Welcome to the west boys. Redbird is that road behind you, there’s not too much else to put on maps around here.”

Here we were. The sun is setting and we’re 40 miles from the next town, oh, and hitchhiking? It’s illegal. Hmmmm. After racking our brains for a few moments, we decide that we would flag down a passing truck, explain our situation, and if they offered a ride we would take it. As long as we didn’t ask for the ride, technically it wouldn’t be hitchhiking. And it worked! An alfalfa/oat farmer picked us up in his truck and was kind enough to let us sleep on his property for the night. The kindness of strangers reigns supreme once again. Lesson of the day: in the west, you can’t rely on maps without confirming with a local first. Not only that, but the towns are spread so far apart, that if you don’t plan carefully, you’ll be drinking dirt for the night.

Blue skies and… rain?

After leaving Lost Springs, Wyoming (population 1, seriously, look it up) Henry and I start packing in mileage like FedEx. It’s blue sky and crispy white clouds, you know, postcard weather, and all of the sudden we feel raindrops. My first instinct told me that Henry was drooling in front of me (he often rides with his mouth ajar) and that i probably just got hit with some saliva. But I looked up, just to be clear, and sure enough, I could see crystal raindrops falling from a fresh blue canopy. There were a few clouds, but not rain clouds, and the drops didn’t look to be coming from them anyway. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I still can’t quite explain it.  The skies are certainly changing. We are officially in BIG sky country.

our view as we approach the Tetons

Our horizons are almost endless now, and the sky is just a drier version of the ocean. Even the animals seem to swim. For the first time, I saw a family of cows walking across an open range, just walking. That may not sound like much, but just think about it. How often do you see cows with enough land to just wander on? They looked like they were going for a family hike, or maybe a picnic on the other side of the farm, but no matter what scenario you dream up, they looked happy, or free, I should say.

Lessons in the morn.

It’s day 32 (7AM) and Henry and I awaked to the stern but gentle voice of a Parks and Recreation worker, “Wake up. You can’t sleep in city park.” And that’s it. No threats, no attitude, and no blowing the situation out of proportion. I think we’ve all had our fair share of run-ins with “power-happy” officials, the ones who exercise their right to fill the gap in their inferiority complex by making others just as unhappy as they are. And that’s why it means so much more to have a level-headed interaction with a person of power. Henry and I apologized to the officer, and packed our gear up. Nothing more and nothing less. Unnecessary actions most often warrant unnecessary reactions, and that’s just the way things work. So thank you to the Parks & Rec employee for using good judgement and treating us as equals. The system can work if we are responsible with the power we are given.

The character’s keep coming…

my man francis

This is my man, Francis. He started walking over 70 days ago in Newport, Oregon and he’s not going to stop until Charlton, Massachusetts. He’s walking home in search of some higher truth. Moved by his pilgrimage, Henry and I agreed we wanted to help him. Francis also was quite inspired by our journey and too wanted to help. Since money is so short on the road, we figured we would both give each other $20, an equal exchange and a symbol of our respect for each other’s cause. Stay safe my friend, it was amazing to have met you.

the lone ranger, Jo

Oh Jo, how I miss thee. We met Jo twice in two days, the first time at a gas station outside the Tetons and the second was today in Jackson (while writing the blog haha!) Jo is from Thailand and is biking across a foreign land, America. While talking to Jo today, we asked if he was going to go to Yellowstone and he replied “ehh, it’s too commericial, I don’t think I’ll spend much time there.” That is Jo, he’s not from here and he already knows to avoid the mob. He told us that it gets boring biking by himself and that nature keeps him company. One thing I’ll never forget about Jo was his parting wisdom as we left him by the mountainside “you’re free man, you’re free.”

Pierre our fantastic Frenchman

And last but not least, Pierre. He’s an elderly frenchman who is biking from the top of North America to the bottom of South America on a tricycle of sorts. He’s as tough as he is eccentric and we were lucky enough to spend a night with him in Jackson before he heads off to hitchhike to Salt Lake City (making up for some lost time.) Good luck brother.

Look for another post tomorrow morning before we leave Jackson!

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

Day 27-29: Race to Rapid City

Let me preface this next chapter of adventure with a deadline: An NBC affiliate in Rapid City, SD wants to interview Henry and I on Monday, June 28th in the heart of Rapid. Good news right? Wrong. Well the interview is great news, but the resulting mileage (within our time crunch) is damn near impossible.

Yankton to Rapid City in three days. Translation. 365 miles in 72 hours. Things were about to get interesting.

First order of business: Lose all unnecessary weight… time for a haircut.

if pictures could speak...

Maybe it was something about being on the Lewis & Clark Lake. Maybe it was the full moon. Or maybe it was the heat. Whatever the reason, it was time. Credit to the Rastafaris, there is truly something wonderful if not spiritual about cutting your mane off. As people, we have a tendency to bottle stress throughout our body in different ways, be it muscular, neurological or in my case, hairologicalar (a word I made up meaning “of the hair”). And the release can be quite cathartic.

Second order of business: Bike until your legs fall off… or until you fall asleep in public.

With the wind at our faces, Henry and I light a fire under our respective booties, and charged the red road like bulls. It’s not even noon yet and it’s already 95 degrees, a temperature not exactly conducive to riding, but we endure. We push about 75 miles before dinner time and stop to grab a golden roasted PB&J in Armour, SD (part of a larger Native American Reservation). Under the shade of the pavilion, Henry and I let our guard down for two seconds, just enough time to for the Sandman to sneak up and rob us of our conscious minds. We both passed out with jelly encrusted mouths right there on the table, and were awaken by two local kids accusing us of being high.  In our post-nap grogginess we assured them that “drugs were for thugs and that school is cool” (A clear regurgitation of DARE after-school specials).

The next “sleeping in public” story comes the following night in Presho, SD (population 556). After a day of intense, yet beautiful, riding we were ready to hit the hay. We grab dinner at the town restaurant, which is also a gas station/bar, and order the “Garbage Basket.” When asked what was in the entree, the waitress responded, “everything.” Our appetites were happy but our bowels were angry (a common biological dilemma these days). We mosey our way into town, searching for tent-able lawn and get directions to the town park. It wasn’t very far, but it was SMACK in the middle of this neighborhood. Not a problem, it was dusk, and soon we would have the cover of darkness. As we lay in our tent that night, under the Western sky, we can see the Tornado Warning brew on the horizon. However, we did our damnedest to outrun the storm that day, and it paid off. For the first time, we were watching a storm recede. Finally, a rainless night.

But right around 1 AM, we wake up to water. It’s raining! Wait… no, the sky is clear. What the heck? The rain… it’s coming from the ground! Sprinklers. The first time we successfully avoid a thunderstorm and we still got wet. Sprinklers and I are not on good terms right now.

Third order of business: Take all the help you can get… even if it means swallowing your pride.

So we’re 48 hours in and have covered around 160 miles, a huge accomplishment. But it’s just not enough. Even if we rode from sunrise to sunset, we weren’t going to make it to Rapid. We needed help.

Time to suck it up and stick it out–a thumb, that is.

Within 1 1/2 days we managed to catch rides with an expert scout leader (and lovely wife), an ex-boxer who now paints for a living (on his way to a wedding), and a RV-happy family that we shall refer to as the Patrick/Conway Clan. Without help from these trusting motorists, we wouldn’t have made it to our interview in time, as our last ride put us into Rapid City just around sunset on day 29. This should give us just enough time for a little SSS (poop, shave and sleep) before the big morning.

celebrating the journey with the Patrick/Conway family

However, the struggle of hitchhiking wasn’t necessarily in finding the rides, because there is kindness everywhere. The real trouble was letting go of our egos. Pride is a funny thing, and will most often rear it’s ugly face in the form of stubbornness. Asking strangers for rides (be it at gas stations, truck stops, or on the side of the road) is one of the more humbling experiences of the trip so far, and we’re all the better for it.

My man Thurgood hit it on the head with this one, “None of us has gotten where we are solely by pulling ourselves up from our own bootstraps. We got here because somebody bent down and helped us.”

Moral of the Story: Smarter deadlines lead to less grey hairs and a longer life-span.

a video of Henry and I, biking in between rides, getting “heat-silly”