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I hate mosquitoes. Hate is a strong word, and I am using it. If I could rub a genie bottle and wish for one thing, it would be to kill every mosquito that comes within five feet of me. Now, I don’t use this lightly as I am aware of the parable where a man wished everything he touched turned to gold and soon starved to death. There are consequences to our wishes and everyone who has ever thought through the process of wishes, can attest to this. We already know what happened to the gold guy and think how miserable I would be today if I really had become the best Lego builder in the world. A life doomed to sit in my parent’s basement building my next pirate ship masterpiece or maybe a castle with a moat full of sharks. These are tragic events. There is probably some reason mosquitoes need to be in my personal space, but I haven’t found one yet, and I don’t care if this wish comes with an unforeseen consequence or two. Bring on the basement. At least I know there aren’t any mosquitoes there.

I bring this up because at my lowest of lows yesterday, I was confronted by an attacking army of Mosquitoes. These guys were mean and hungry. Imagine, if you will, sitting on a bike for 13 hours in 90 plus degree temperatures over 120 miles and not having the energy to bike another six miles to an oasis known as Lander. Now imagine a gang of middle aged roadbike warriors passing you at this moment saying, “come on . . . you can do.” That is like your big sister telling you to suck it up after she brought you tears from a sucker punch to the gut. Regardless, I was feeling like little Mr. Cranky Pants. I was hangry and my water resources were exhausted.  I had bonked and all I wanted was my sleeping bag. This is where the mosquitoes came in. They bombarded me with their buzzes. Around the ears, near the ankles; they knew all the vulnerable spots. I was running in place screaming just to keep them away long enough to lower the rancher’s gate where my motorhome sized bike had to pass. I was singing “I am a maniac . . . maniac on the floor . . . and I am dancing like I have never danced before.” Name that tune? Name that movie? You get the idea. I was bolting for higher ground in hopes that the mosquitoes would give up and go back to their low land haciendas. No luck. They followed me into my tent that ironically looks like a coffin. Room for one man and twenty blood sucking death merchants. I spent the better part of an hour subduing their buzzing which is a nice way of putting, I killed them one by one. In a very strategic way I might add. I baited them with a little thigh. White and supple. They were powerless to it. They would eventually land on the whitest part where the contrast of their dark bodies could be seen in the subtle tent lighting. It all ended with a bang. Better to kill them with a loud noise. I hope to go out with a bang or at least a fireworks display. Put me in a bottle rocket and launch me off a mountain. A high one where no mosquitos can ever flap their little wings.

Drew

PS Why do bikers shave their legs and, more importantly, where do you stop shaving? Suggestions? Thoughts?

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Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Carbondale, CO to Steamboat Springs, CO – 125 miles with a 50+lb trailer.

Giddy Up. I am all saddled up and ready to bolt through the tribal lands of Wyoming. The interior. Draw a straight line between Steamboat Springs and Lander, and that is the maze of backroads I will be crossing over the next three days. Roads with such names as CC RD 561, Big Rubber Rd and Three Forks Atlantic City Rd. Some seem to have two names. Some don’t have any name at all, and I have absolutely no idea if any of these will be marked with a sign. I will be sure to wear my tightest lycra bike shorts and flashiest cape when asking the ranchers which way to the promised land. The International Climbers Fest in Lander, Wyoming is my destination and its going to rock . . . pun intended.

You have no idea how excited I am to actually use these silly climbing shoes I have been carrying around since Telluride. To be surrounded by climbers, will calm me. Ever since I started this biking hobby, about a month ago, I have become overly nervous when someone from the biking tribe approaches me. He, usually a male, will stop to talk shop about my gearing ratio or some other two wheeled semantic detail that I have no idea how to answer. I seem to leave them disappointed with my apparent ignorance, but everyone can relate to the butt soreness. You can always talk to a biker about that. I am working on my biking vocab, but I fear I will never care what my seat post weighs when I am pulling a 70 pound trailer. Oh bikers. Not that climbers are any better. If I have to hear about another “sick splitter” (climber talk for “cool crack climb”) around the Indian Creek campfire, I might just start wearing lycra when I climb. Actually, I have tried that once and it was very funtional in off-widths. I digress. What I am trying to get at is that every tribe has their own language, and the key to this adventure lies in my ability to play it off like I speak them all. I am working on Biker, and I am about to get some practice with Rancher. Wish me luck. See in you three days.

Drew

Independence day has decended upon Steamboat and the invasion has left the town smothered in a red, white and blue gravy. Some of the tastier chunks in this stew include overhead explosions, rodeos and the occasional cowboy wearing an American Flag with pearl snaps for buttons. Wrapped like a patriotic Chipotle burrito, these cowboys have started to gather in numbers, and I wonder if there is going to be a second wave to this invasion? Are they coming to wrap me up in Old Glory?

There was one Patriotic trooper last night checking himself out in a window as we both waited in line for some late night sustenance. I love catching people in this vulnerable moment. His shirt was tight and bulgy like a tarp around a motorcycle; quick pointy in parts. The stars and stripes had been disassembled and fabricated into what appeared to be a stylish shirt for such occasions in such places. Wranglers created the foundation to this masterful ensemble and his lady friend smelled of diesel exhaust. The pair fit together like beer and rodeos, but at that particular moment, when my voyeuristic tendencies kicked in, he was alone in an assailable moment. He started near the top of his reflection looking for anything out of place. Hat straight, Check. Collar down, check.  Belt buckle big and shinny, check. Wranglers too tight, check. Boots pointy, check. Everything was in its right place as his eyes began to drift towards the menu. There was a line that appeared to interest him, extra bacon-two dollars. I pegged him as a carnivore but you don’t want to jump to conclusions in this day and age. I didn’t see any remnants of an omnivore’s life style in his handle bar mustache, but then again he could just be hygienic. “Bacon Cheeseburger, extra bacon . . . honey what you want?” His wife was standing behind me at this point and his honey comment caught me off guard as his gaze was sent in my general direction. She wanted more of the same. I finally had my chance to order and my scrumptious salad wrap probably matched my artsy glasses just as his bacon cheesburger paired well with tight wranglers. We were stereotypes dancing for a moment.

I am off to a bar-b-q and a fireworks display. I have already eaten two hotdogs, red white and blue pancakes, a root beer float and all the other edible treats you might find around the fourth of July. I particularly enjoyed the deviled eggs, but who doesn’t.

Drew

There is no steamboat in Steamboat. Perplexing. I made it, but as you can imagine, I am a bit disappointed with this realization. Maybe they are hiding it from the tourists. Maybe it only comes out during holidays. I will keep you posted as it is July 4th tomorrow and if there is any holiday to bring out a steamboat, July 4th would be it.

Just one photo this time as I am working on a longer blog that will have more attached. A lilac bush greeted me atop a very large hill. This was moments before I bonked. There were no banana chips or water to pull me out, so I did what any tuckered out biker might do, napped.

Drew

Good Morning. I made the mistake of looking up the mileage for my proposed route today and it varies between 120 and 135 miles depending on witch program you use to calculate the mileage. Considering this mileage and the fact that I have to hunt down a new tire before I hit the road, I will keep the blog in the visual realm.

The first few photos are from Salida where I am receiving a free sandwich certificate for exhausting myself in a hill climb running competition. The sandwich was delicious. The next few are from the FIBark Festival and the little slice of Americana that I witnessed there. The remaining images are from yesterday as I biked over Scholfield Pass. I am doing the moonwalk atop the pass while listening to Billy Jean in honor of MJ. Supposedly this pass is the deadliest one in Colorado. Didn’t witness any death, but the pass sure beat me up. There are a couple of photos of me with a bit of mud on my face. I took a spill and didn’t realize that my face plant ended with a streak of war paint. The last photo is my tire at the end of the day. Crazy to think it never went flat. I was hiking my bike for five hours yesterday. After my third fall this appeared to be the prudent mode of transportation. I will have some stories tomorrow. Sneak preview . . . I interrupted some wildlife in a dance of sorts. Wild indeed, for the participants were from Texas and belong to the AARP. Tune in tomorrow.

After a week break in Telluride, my butt has found its way back to the saddle. I think it missed it, or at least that is what it has been telling me this morning. Missed it in more of a nostalgic sort of way. Kind of like the way you miss the friend who punches you in the arm and leaves dirty dishes in the sink. Fun to remember, but the reality really isn’t that glamorous. Keep posted for new blogs. I have realized that I enjoy this writing thing, and I am going to sit myself down at every internet connection I find and share a story or two. For now, all you get is that I am back at it and that my butt is pleasantly angry.

Going to be a big day. I will be biking over Kebler and McClure Pass to eventually rest my head somewhere on the down slope. Hopefully past Carbondale and in the warm waters of Glenwood. I will let you know if my knee explodes.

Drew

There will be no one to save you in the event of an encounter. Well, at least that is what a Ms. Jess Johnson has told me as she quickly taps the keys of her laptop and speaker phone Skypes a hotel reservationist in Oregon, who by all accounts has no idea what is about to descend upon his little oasis of overnight lodging. Confused yet? Well, you should be because I am sitting right next to this Louis Lane of sorts, but she prefers an association with a TV character by the name of Scully.

Jess Johnson is the operations manager for the Mutual UFO Network and is currently dealing with a CAT 3 deployment. Apparently this is a big deal in some social and professional networks where military talk is thrown around with little regard for the layperson. I being lay and very wet behind the ears when it comes to UFO sightings. Regardless, CAT  3 deployment sounds really, really cool. So cool, that I have already asked her five times if could be the one she deploys to research this particular encounter. Apparently you need to be a specialist with something called “credentials” to be deployed. I don’t know what that means but I am currently deploying my internet skills to research these “credentials,” so I can get back to her and be deployed in CAT 3 style. What is a synonym for deployed? She says my one encounter with an unknown burning orb is not worthy of specialist status. In fact, she has shrugged off my encounter entirely as a result of an indiscretion prior to the citing. Confused yet? Well let me explain.

I was on the San Juan River in late April partaking in all the usual social experiments associated with floating and boating in the desert. That being said, I also had all my devices about me to witness something of this nature. It was impossible not to notice, and I have a partner in crime to back me up on this one, a Ms. Katie Folz. The night of the sighting we were gathered in a tent about to drift off to a sleepier place when what appeared to be a flashlight adorned mischief-maker was approaching the tent. We pulled back the flap to alert the approaching hooligan that there was no room for his “Tom Foolery” at this late hour. To our surprise, there were no chinanagons being had and the light we were witnessing was actually coming from the sky and dropping very rapidly toward the canyon’s skyline like a huge shooting star. By huge, I mean gigantic. Apocalyptic. So big that I assumed a large shock wave was about to wash over the canyon and explode our meager nylon shelter into a burning orb of its own. Jess (UFO specialist) says I have watched Armageddon one to many times, but I say there is some truth in any big budget, Hollywood movie. Why else would they spend the money or go to all the trouble of depicting an asteroid if there wasn’t some truth to the shock wave or the panic that it could produce? I was terrified and threw my arm over my tent mate in a feeble attempt to shield us from the cosmic rays that were about to descend upon us. The shock wave never happened, and I obviously didn’t find myself in that burning ball of nylon that seemed so imminent at the time. There was no Armageddon, and I was left with only expletives leaving my mouth as I attempted to piece together what had just happened.

No one really paid much attention to Katie and I’s story the next morning as we huddled over breakfast. I don’t know if it was my bag of costuming or Katie’s cosmic awareness that wasn’t inspiring confidence among our river companions, but the group seemed to have determined that a story of this nature was expected from characters such as us. We saw something, but the truth of the matter will forever lie in that gray area where even a character such as myself could become a UFO specialist. I am working on my resume.

Jess’s latest case, and I am really excited to say, cannot be discussed. It is classified. I am not privy to most of the details, but I know a CAT 3 sighting means that there was direct contact with an alien. Apparently most sightings happen over the weekend, late at night and in Texas. Possibly grouped around such social experiments as football games and keg parties. Do aliens only visit drunk white people below the Mason Dixon Line? There is apparently quite a screening process to weed out all of the false sightings, for there is a large budget associated with this line of work. Jess is salaried and works the logistics associated with deploying the researchers. These researchers are people with actual credentials, educations and the tools necessary to study the details surrounding an alien observation. Aliens abduct us and we send out these people to figure out if the abductees are full of it. It is a lengthy process, and I am currently a cog in this very bizarre wheel. Check out mufon.com for more info.

Are you kidding me . . . she is now Skypeing with a friend that has identified a whole new city in Southern Mexico. Her friend is an archaeologist and I know feel like I am Indiana Jones. Not that I have a whip, leather jacket or a cool hat, but there is some really cool (expletive) happening in Salida right now.

As you have probably figured out, I am in Salida after biking from Boulder in a two-day push. The days were long and there are roughly six passes between Boulder and Salida. I guess if sustainability were an easy thing, everyone would be doing it? The show was last night, and I think it was the best one yet. There was a large man who elbowed a small child. This was just one of the highlights that occurred after I dropped a Yakima door prize at my feet and told the audience the first to grab it could walk away the new owner of bike rack. I don’t know the moral to this story, but maybe it could be that it pays to be bigger, faster and more likely to throw an elbow. I don’t usually promote this sort of behavior but the audience was all about it. I had to come up with a variety of questions to give away the other door prizes, so I flipped through the FIBark booklet looking for an appropriate inquisition. I came upon a vintage photo of Roy Hicks who is a legend around here for winning the annual hill climb over a ridiculous amount of years. In the photo, he is wearing what I would consider the shortest pair of shorts possible without being put on a city’s sex offenders list. Naturally I found this entertaining and thought I would ask the audience “in Roy Hick’s photo that appears on page seven of the FIBark program, what is an appropriate adjective to describe his shorts?” I was expecting someone to raise their hand or blurt out “really short shorts” and this correct answer would then entitle them to a Mountainfilm Kleen Kanteen water bottle. I called upon the first girl to raise her hand and she informed me that they were “do me shorts.” The crowd loved it and I am starting to think small town Colorado harbors the crazies. Maybe that is why I live in a town of 150 residents. Awwwwwww home. I wish I was there at this very moment swinging on my front porch, and taking it all in. It would be a brief moment, for as I have already said, there is some really cool (expletive) happening here in Salida.

About to go run a race. Wish me luck.

Drew

PS more photos coming soon . . .

It is my last day in Boulder and it has been an eventful series of rest days sense my arrival on Wednesday afternoon. There were some climbing, dancing and endless conversations with the type of folks that give meaning to the partially filled pages of this story. I will be leaving today. Sunday morning. A day of rest for the pious, but a day to get cranking for the bikers of the secular nature. Guanella Pass is my destination and the starting line is 4th street and Delwood in Boulder, CO. I haven’t managed to pull the exact mileage or vertical gain from Google, but I believe it is something like 80 miles and 7,000 feet of fighting gravity to crest the big hill and fall so effortlessly to Grant, Colorado. Just typing that makes me tired, but gravity is going down, pun intended.

My nephew joined me in Boulder for his first experience in the multi-pitch climbing world. This is fancy climber talk that roughly translates to mean, we scaled a large rock and found ourselves well above the ground in a place birds are known to frequent. In fact, we came upon a pigeon nest and had to work our way around the audible distraction before gaining the summit. It was a memorable day. With any luck the plague of climbing has infected Drake. Watch out. Climbing has been known to increase the likelihood of vagabond living and a general feeling of euphoria. It is very infectious and a climber should only be approached after taking the appropriate precautions. I think I passed it along. Oops.

So, here I sit in another coffee house pondering what the day will bestow upon me. Up to this point the day has been relaxing. Time is in abundance these days, and I seem to have no problems filling the voids with the slower pace of the “non-agenda.” This is a tiring exercise for those of us who usually spend our days making lists and uncovering the hidden path of efficiency. The month of May was spent in this fashion. Efficiency was the tool to weed the garden of my work. During the month of May, I was the gallery coordinator to a film festival, a homeowner moving from a five year pool of worldly possessions, a landlord prepping the canvas of my house for the strokes of tenants, a friend on a climbing trip, a blushing boy in the presence of a girl and a non-biker gathering the energy to complete an extended two wheeled sojourn. I was consumed in a way that focused my efforts and silenced my spontaneity. There is a natural flow to all of this and it appears trampolines and people watching has replaced the calculated possession juggling of May. Everything is in its right place and I am still blushing. The energy to hop on the bike is effortless and I now have my sights on tonight’s destination. Guanella Pass. I have never been there, but my head will rest there this evening. It is a new road in a familiar state that will eventually lead me to Salida. Boulder has provided the rest my body and apparently my mind was craving.

See you in Salida.

Drew

This blog thing has really taken on a life of its own. I might even learn how to tweet here in the next few days if Justin has cranked up his patience meter and checked his assumptions at the door of what one should know about such matters. Granted I know how to tweet analog style (bird noises and random head movements back and forth), but apparently there is a way to upload this onto the intraweb. I can keep everyone informed of which bridge I will be camping under or maybe how delicious my latest indulgence is tasting. Indulging. Very necessary on a trip of this type. Repetitive motions will take you away from any form of indulgence, but give you an excellent excuse to purchase a doubly glazed donuts in one of those neon lit gas stations. The type where the cashier and the truckers seem to know one another and clothing can only be purchased if you are in need of a Wolf or Unicorn depiction of Colorado. Yes it is true. Mythical creatures are among us in Colorado and I have seen them. Granted it was at the end of a 12 hour day and Iwas suffering from sever dehydration, but the unicorns came to me and led me to a beautiful campsite tucked under three highways. It was a convergence of energy that flowed like the river under their bridges. There weren’t any trolls there, I looked. Just a few beer cans and cigarette butts that seem overly abundant along our highways. That and gloves. I have seen more gloves along our highways than any other piece of trash. It would make an amazing sculpture of sorts to gather the missing gloves and use them as bricks to build the ultimate work of art. The type that would keep the hipsters scratching their heads. It would be titled “lending a hand” or some other such cliche’ that would become tragically comical when paired with a big pile of used gloves. Something so obvious that it would stink. Yeah . . . this is what I think about as I pedal and pedal and pedal. That and the delicious Swedish Fish that have found their way into mouth and are now stuck to my teeth, just waiting for their time to brighten my day with another tasty flavor crystal of synthetic cherry flavoring. Yummmm. I think I can almost work one loose. I have also been thinking about my current arch nemesis. Truckers. I know it isn’t fair to lump all truckers together as I am sure I am simply noticing the minority and not the majority, but if one more truckers buzzes me just for the hell of it, well . . . I probably won’t do anything besides rant on this blog, but boy will I do it with such fervor that the trucker will surely know that he/she has messed with the wrong bike tourer. In fact one trucker buzzed me as I was descending into the Boulder Valley. Now that I have the hang of this Bob trailer I have come to enjoy the speed of the decent. What once was an unmanageable speed has now become what I crave. The problem came up when I did this in conjunction with one of these truckers trying to prove a point. I got the speed wobbles after his dumptruck’s airblast rocked my bike and sent me into a frantic braking/screaming/messing my shorts style of biking that resembled a wounded bird’s mating dance and not that of a bike tourer in control. Bike tourer (emphasis on the “er” in “tourer”). I recovered, checked my shorts and moved on. I learned a valuable lesson. Don’t try prying another Swedish Fish flavor crystal from your teeth when reaching speeds in excess of 50 miles an hour. Although the cherry flavor is irresistible, the speed wobbles are something to be avoided.

Right, you are probably wondering what all of this has to do with anything. It doesn’t, but you are reading it in an almost voyeuristic way. This is basically my dairy and I have little patience to chronicle my adventures in a traditional fashion. The road hasn’t been about what pass I went over or what sustainability means to me. As in most scenarios, it is the people I have come across during my travels that have brought joy into this currently repetitious world. Pedal pedal, eat eat, pedal pedal, eat eat. Somewhere in there is sleep and then the occasional down day. I swear I met god twice in one day. Not god in any sense that you are currently thinking. There were no white beards, sandals or burning bushes, just a drunk old woman who tested my patience and rogue biker who came from nowhere at the very moment that I needed directions. The drunk old lady fit the bill of crazy. She had a bag of magazines, a glass of white Zin and a make up job that would make Elizabeth Taylor proud. There was nothing subtle about her. She asked me if I was busy preparing my thoughts before the presentation and I thought I had communicated in a friendly yet firm fashion to let her know that indeed, I was preparing for the presentation and would appreciate a moment to gather my thoughts. This is when she chose to launch into a story about her kittens. Of course I could only multitask for so long before I had to fake some audio-visual emergency happening in the back. She came up to me after the show and bestowed her kindest compliments upon me, but cornered me as I was eager to chat with the rest of the audience about the show. I helplessly tried to say goodbye to the other guests, but she had me pinned. I eventually gave in and listened to her about how the show wasn’t marketed well enough and how she thought more people needed to see our presentation. My patience was tested, and I wonder where the White Zin lady is today. We parted ways without saying goodbye as my attention was finally drawn to another. When I turned around she was gone, but her glass of Zin was still sitting there with a ring of fiery lipstick. Was it a sign of the second, third or tenth coming? Why was she there? Why am I still thinking about my impatience with a sweet, old, drunk, crazy lady? Why am I craving a glass of White Zin? These are the questions of life.

Updates on logistics. I am in Boulder staying with friends and in general enjoying the down time. Boulder is hip in all the right ways. Young beautiful people frolic with their laptops and talk of saving the world. I seem to be another wheel in this tragic cog, but action is what will save us. I biked with my nephews from the summit of Vail pass. My family means the world to me and to have them along for part of the ride filled me with the energy that sent me up and over two passes that day. Loveland pass was my high point at 12,000 feet and now I am at the low, 5 thousand and change. I got into town yesterday and tonight is the show in Boulder. I saw some amazing music last night that proved that it pays to be a free-louder. There was a concert at a venue where they occasionally raise these large wall panels to let air into the venue. We stood outside and gaped into what turned out to be a soulful performance. There were families gathered around blankets and old men smoking cigarettes. I have lost all motivation to write and I should probably start preparing for the show tonight. Thanks for reading and if there is anything in particular that you would like to read about, make a comment on the blog and I might just take it as a bit of inspiration.

Drew

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