Southern USA Bicycling Tour ‘24

The last few days have been quite busy between riding miles, soaking in the sights and scenery and visiting with people I haven't seen in years has kept me quite occupied. One of my old college friends flew from Boulder to spend some time with me. It was so cool catching up. Despite years and distance it felt like I just talked with her yesterday. That's when you know you have a dear friend when you can pick up and talk. We reconnected this fall. She happened to text me when I was at a real low dealing with shingles and work. It was a call I needed at the time. Strange how things work out.

In Austin, I reconnected with another friend and her husband. She was gracious enough to let me send a few Amazon orders to her house. Not sure she was expecting a package every day for almost a week. They treated me to a steak dinner that I have been craving for weeks. Plus they turned me on to crumble cookies. I'm still working on the cookies. It was so fun spending time to Betty and Will. 

We had a brief glimpse of the eclipse. We had been riding in the totality zone for the last few days but ended up riding right out of the zone in time for the eclipse. Which is ironic. We saw all kinds of signs for viewing parties. T-shirts, food specials, traffic and more traffic. 
Tonight, my stepmom drove my dad down from Houston to see me. We had a lovely dinner chatting. 
This trip is  more than just riding bike which is a major part of it but it's also reconnecting with others and myself. 

Vanderpool to Fredericksburg-rest day - Friendship - the ride from Vanderpool reminded be of riding in the Endless Mountains. Rolling hills, sane road numbers, Rivers(creeks), lush green scenery and quiet roads. Parts of the ride were a bit crazy with traffic. I was stopped along the road taking a break and a police office stopped to tell me he was praying for us and they had just arrested for DUI. That section had a little Berm and lots of cars. It was a tad nerve wracking. We are in an area where the eclipse will be in totality and millions of people have come to this area to view it. We see signs for viewing parties everywhere. 
On my rest day a dear college friend Doreen flew down from Fort Collins, Colorado to spend some time with me. What a blessing to have friends like that. She's a professor at Colorado University. We played softball together At Mansfield. It was so great reconnecting. I'm blessed!


80 miles 3600 feet of climbing. 

Camp Wood to vanderpool- splendid- todays ride was a dream. Rolling hills, some tough up hill climbs followed by fun decents. The weather was picture perfect. No headwind and the road surface was pleasant. It was a short day only 40 miles. I feel less pressure on short days. I can stop and smell the roses. Tonight we are staying at the Foxfire Cabins. I'm sharing a cabin with 2 other women. It's a cute cabin with plenty of space. I usually get my own hotel room. This is a great facility and a super place to relax. I like these places versus the chain hotels.  They have way more atmosphere.

There's a little babbling creek in front of my cabin. Locals call these rivers. The caretaker said they are in the mist of a 10 year drought. The creek is about the size of the Loyalsock.  A couple of us sat in the creek and soaked our feet. So refreshing. At the main office the humming birds were enjoying the nectar in their feeders. 

The whole day reminded me of home in the middle of summer. Lush greenery, rolling hills, flowers budding and a big blue sky.  We are a little over halfway done. It's been an amazing journey so far. 40 miles and 3,300 feet of climbing.

Del Rio to Brackettville, Texas - Recovery. We pedaled 36 flat miles in about 90 degrees much easier than the day before. The ride on Easter was brutal on all levels. It was not fun. That's how life goes many ups and downs. It's how you recover from those downs. Sometimes those lemons make great lemonade. We are almost halfway done. I've  seen amazing scenery and have met some amazing people. Texas roads are rough. The tar and chip is grinding mile after mile. At the end of the day I get off my bike smiling because I am living my dream. 36 miles and 500 feet of climbing. 

Sanderson to Del Rio- Brutal. We started the day at the crack of dawn so we could get a headstart from the heat. Beautiful morning then things heated up. We were hit with all kinds of fun stuff like teeth shattering road shoulders. The roads are mainly tarred and chipped which is very  unpleasant. Smooth fresh pavement is my favorite. The speed limit is 70 so trucks were wizzing bye at 80. Some trucks don't like cyclists as one stopped to tell our guide get us off the F@ing road. We have every right to ride but they have far more weight. I try to stay as far right on the shoulder as possible. Some truckers don't give you room. But this is all part of the journey.

We had a rest spot every 20 miles provided by our guides. Kept our water bottles full. You'd fill them with ice and within 15 minutes the water was warm. There was one convenience store at mile 88. A couple of us found respite there with ice cream, ice and cold drinks. I rode 98 miles and tapped out. I was spent and that's when accidents happen. Your judgment becomes impaired and I want to get home to Jess and my puppies in one piece. Every day is different and an adventure that's for sure. 98 miles and 3800 feet of climbing and 5 pounds lighter. 

Alpine to Sanderson, Texas - teamwork. I was graced today with full on support from my fellow riders and guides. Im extremely grateful. My 1st flat of the day was in front of a coffee shop and a gentleman named Tommy bought me a double espresso and helped change my tire. I gave him a big hug.

I stopped at another coffee shop and a couple of young men from Boston  were intrigued about our cycling trip. I don't think they could believe that a bunch of "old ladies" were cycling across country. 😂🤣

After the 2nd flat I felt defeated and just upset that I wasn't in total control. 4 flats in less than 24 hours is not something I'm used to. Maybe 4 flats a year but not in 24 hours. I guess I had been a bit over confident. It had been smooth sailing for the 1st 1,200 miles. After a thorough examination, We think the culprit was a couple tiny shards of metal. Since, I was getting 10-15 miles between flats. Cindi one of the guides pulled a couple of shards out of the tire. They were so tiny. I couldn't see them. The roads have lots of debris and today it was my turn on the bad luck train. 

We met another couple cycling across country but going the opposite direction. They are headed to San Diego. We filled up their water bottles and wished them a safe trip. They were from NewHampshire. He said he had 2 flat's yesterday. They were riding self supported which means they are carrying their gear. Where as I have a van carrying my stuff and a full support team. 💖💖

Tomorrow has a fresh set of downs. 

Fort Davis, Tx to Alpine- I felt like I was riding in a set of a western movie. Vast amounts of open land with very few houses for 25 miles. The scenery was spectacular. Luckily, it was a short day so I could stop and enjoy the day. The roads were a bit rough for the first 7 miles. Then it was just more tarred and chipped roads which can be a bit jarring. 

Got my first flat about 3 miles from our hotel. But as luck would have it several of my riding partners stopped to help and all of a sudden a bike mechanic showed up and finished the job much quicker. I use a tire called gator skin and they are really hard to take off but they are holding up well after 1100 miles. There is a lot of debris and thorns on the road. So, one flat isn't to bad. Several women have had multiple flats. 

Alpine was a pleasant surprise. Quaint town with numerous murals painted on buildings. Seems like a very arties town.  I understand they have a big music festival and an art festival each year. Several coffee shops, restaurants and stores. 
I was able to get a quick haircut from Fred. He is spending Easter with his parents. Said he couldn't cycle to the end of his driveway. He said he doesn't like the new Porsche

Lauren, chef and guide, gave us a tie died craft project to be finished on Easter. I'm sure my artistic ability will come shining through. lol. I said I'm good at math not so at crafts.  😂 🤣

26 miles and 700 feet of climbing. 

Starting week 4. We have completed 3 weeks of riding across the southern tier of the USA. I had hoped to blog every day but unfortunately it's been difficult to keep up. You'd think shoot I'm just riding bike. What's the big deal?  Days seem to fly bye. Our schedule is pretty regimented. Get up, get around, make sure all of your electronics are charged, water bottles are full, make sure your bike is ready then get yourself ready. At the end of the day it takes time to decompress especially after the tougher physically and mentally demanding days. We gather our luggage out of the luggage trailer following us. Sometimes you have to dig through the bags to find yours as yours can get buried in the mounds of luggage. I'll be glad to send my winter riding clothes home to lighten my load. Then we check into a hotel. Shower and get ready for dinner and a map meeting to discuss the next days' ride. 

I'm riding with 23 other remarkable women each conquering their own quest. Some ride every mile and some take the support van on tougher days or just times they need a break. It is physically demanding. Every we are all getting stronger. 

The wind, I find is the biggest challenge. The wind is unlike anything I've seen at home or I just choose not to ride when I'm home in those conditions. I've had the wind push me forward, backwards and sideways. But I'm absolutely loving this opportunity. Sometimes I get a bit emotional while I'm riding thinking I'm actually doing this. I think of all of the people supporting me and the amazing scenery. I just think how lucky I am. Each day is different some much harder than others. During this journey, I've meet some amazing people and heard some amazing stories. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. Most people have been incredibly supportive and kind. Most are amazed at what we are doing. Actually, I've only encountered one asshole. 

We have 3 amazing women taking care of us. They are dealing with 24 women with 24 different personalities and needs. They keep a smile on their face with a positive attitude. I know it can't be easy for them especially when they have to make the difficult decisions to pull us off the road because of weather conditions. Our safety is they number one concern and I'm grateful for that. They are also away from home missing their families. 

I'm so grateful for my supportive partner Jess. She has been my rock. Thank goodness for Jetison technology I can see them everyday. 💖💖💖💖

I'm in awe of everyone sending me messages, checking on me and giving me well wishes. You don't know how much that means too me. 💖💖. This is definitely a journey of my lifetime and I'm thankful that I can do this while raising money to fight ALS.  Have a blessed Easter weekend. 

Rest day in Silver City,NM - a day off the bike to give us a chance to do laundry, let our bodies rest, shop and explore. What a great town. They are on this Southern Tier route and the Continental divide route. The continental divide goes from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, NM. They get a lot of cyclists in town. I went to 3 bike shops. Each unique in their own way. My favorite was Bikeworks. They provide bikes to kids who volunteer and attend bike maintenance classes. They found just giving the bikes away kids weren't taking care of them. So the kids get vested in their bikes. 

I stopped at an art guild. They ladies showed me their art and thought how cool it would be to ride across country. They said we have a big ride here in April. This town is located close to 3 million acres of the Gila National Forest. The town was originally built on a river and had to move the town because Main Street flooded. I'll have to research that more. They had a major wildfire a couple of years ago in the Gila Forest. 

Then I met Wyatt, his family has a candy store. They make freeze dried candy. I tried it but can't say I was a fan. Wyatt was working cause his step mom was at the hospital. 

Then,  I met a lady who just retired as an elementary teacher near the Fingers lakes. They are here for 2 months and loving it. She said it was furnished for $1400 a month. Next year they booked for 3 months. She said it stays about 50 throughout the winter. 

Then, I met Edna. Her smile would light up the sky. She's 82 and loves living here. She was out gardening with her dog Buddy. He got that name cause that's the only name he'd listen too. She's from Germany and moved to the USA in 1962. She goes back occasionally. She gave me some fresh Rosemary. 

Dion has a corner Asian Fusion cuisine stand. He carries his equipment on top of his Toyota Camry. I think he puts his grill flat top on the top of his car. He had a cool set up and moved here a couple of years ago and trying to expand his business. 
A couple of ladies at the local museum explained to me how water works in New Mexico. You have to register your well. They said this area seems to have plentiful water supply. 

I stopped at the visitor center and spoke with a gentleman who was super nice. I was curious about the EV charging system that was located on the property. He wasn't sure if they got from it from a grant - he said it was separate from them. This town is an outdoor Mecca. A lot of their economy comes from tourism. Everyone was super friendly. I'd come back here again. 

Lordsburg, Nm to Silver City. What an amazing day. A young couple have a coffee truck. They moved back to lordsburg 3 years ago. The town took a beating from the opiate epidemic. She gets 50% of her business from transit highway traffic. 

The state of New Mexico paved the highway for us. 🤣. Fresh pavement, a huge shoulder and little traffic. It was another day of climbing but very doable and it made for super fun decents.

I stopped at a local gas station to pee. There were 2 cutie pie young men with bright smiles that I could tell were out working. I said what are you guys up too today and they said "cutting wood". I said love cutting wood. What kind of saw do you use? I asked stihl? They said yep. I said I love my little battery operated stihl saw. The owner of the gas station said to the young men what size saw a 165? We all agreed that Stihls are the best saws. On the way out of town I saw the young men working on fence. They gave me a big wave. 

We climbed to the top of the Continental Divide.  Silver City has been my favorite town so far.  46 miles 3800 feet of climbing 

Globe, Az to Safford Az. In all of my years of cycling this was one of my  roughest days. It would have been a great ride but Mother Nature had other plans. She decided to throw in 37 mph wind gust in for fun. Felt  like I was riding backwards plus dealing with traffic. I had  a difficult time keeping my bike up. It was mentally and physically challenging for me. I even pushed my bike for a few minutes to regroup. I was about to "tap out" which means you are done for the day but the guides pulled us off the roads before I did. The  challenging weather conditions made it very difficult to keep us safe. Mother Nature gave us Rain, wind, lightning and thunder. We've had awesome weather so this was bound to happen. I was happy to be pulled. A few ladies wanted to continue but I couldn't been happier. 

People have asked about our days. Most days i get up around 5 am to get the day going. I pack up my  stuff. Put it the trailer that's following us. Grab breakfast and snacks. Load up my bike with water and snacks then start riding for the day. Usually we have 2 or 3 SAG stops. These are spots where our guides check that we arrived, take a short break find a tree to pee behind and refuel. The scenery has been incredible. After the days ride we check into our hotel. The hotels and rooms are starting to run together. What room number am I in tonight?  Then we unwind for a bit. We have a map meeting before dinner to tell us about the next days ride. Then we have dinner then I head back to my room to get my clothes and bike around for the next day.  50 miles 

Tonto Basin to Globe, Az - more climbing today but beautiful scenery and less miles. And I saw 2 coyotes run behind my friend. After riding, I took a little walk and found a corner bar. I walked in and immediately people are curious, who this strange woman is. So, I learned a lot while drinking 2 extremely cold Coronas. Today I rode by this beautiful lake that went on for about 25 miles. Teddy Roosevelt sanctioned the reservoir and it was dedicated to him after he was president. Its 3 miles wide, the crappies are biting, you can take all size boats. There is a copper smelting plant and they are looking for electricians, they provide almost all of the copper that goes into Electric Vehicles. The bartenders house was robbed and they took all of her guns but left her bullets, she wants a 20 guage for her birthday, she owns her home, her 3 kids were there, be careful riding through the reservation. They had a free buffet of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes and it was delicious. 

Mesa to Tonto Basin, Az - a lot of climbing today but it was beautiful. We had a couple of long climbs but the downhills and scenery were  fantastic. Each night we stay in hotels. We stayed at the Punkin lodge. Your typical in the middle of nowhere lodge with the bar attached. They lady running the place said since she took over the place is much cleaner, she has a couple of good housekeepers do be sure to tip them. You all get a free drink at the bar next door. 82 miles 7000 feet 

Gila Bend to Mesa, Az - started the day wearing 2 pairs of bike shorts. lol. 😂 first time I ever did that but it helped. It was a crazy intense day of riding. The traffic was nuts. Tons of trucks, limited shoulders, round abouts, construction, rough roads,  red lights and freeways. I rode with a couple of other ladies today Nadine and Miki. They made bearable. We didn't stop much today but we did find a cute coffee shop in Buckeye, Az.  I just wanted to finish. We have a rest day tomorrow and then some big days of climbing.  84 miles 1000 feet. 

Wellton to Gila Bend another flat day. Awesome riding. On this journey we have women of from ages from 50 to 74. We have 2 guides and a chef keeping track of us. People have different riding abilities. This is demanding both physically and mentally. The guides warned us that people start getting cranky on week 2 or 3. I'm thinking it can't be worse  than the  kitchen at the Colley Pub on a busy Friday night. 🤣🤣. We stayed at a Best Western in Gila Bend owned by someone that worked at NASA.

88 miles and 1000 feet. 

Yuma to Wellton. Prefect day for riding. Flat - talked with a ranch manager who said he manages 15,000 acres of crops. Right now they are harvesting romaine lettuce and iceberg. Said it cost $15 a case to produce a case (24 heads) and they are selling it wholesale for $47 a case. Lots of people were picking the lettuce. He said summer crops will go in next like melons. 54 miles 650 of climbing. 

Rest Day in Yuma. I didn't realize how tired I was. My body is more tired than sore. I forget that I am 60 lol. 😂 For  the first time in my life I ate a whole Olive Garden salad by myself at lunch.  🤣😂🤣

This segment of riding was amazing. We climbed big hills and cruised down an amazing 10 mile stretch. We trevased through farm land and skirted Mexico. Many of the roads have specific bike lanes. You are constantly aware of traffic. On riding  days we have breakfast, pack up, check bikes, take off and ride, sometimes you ride with others sometimes alone. This is a ride not a race so I like to stop and check out the unique things along the way. After riding each day we check into our hotel, cleanup, shower then we have dinner and a map meeting. The map meeting explains the route for the next day. Days seem to go super fast. I will have the weirdest tan.

 I've learned you can't always trust your electronics. I have a garmin for step by step route directions. It tracks my miles, elevation, and speed. However, sometimes it screws up. Now, im using a backup device too. 
Thank goodness for FaceTime. I can see Jess and my dogs every day.  I'm absolutely loving this experience so far. I know some upcoming days will be super hard but its just a  temporary struggle. Someone with ALS the struggle is constant. 

Day 4 El Centro, Ca to Yuma, Az - Jarring day. We rode near the Mexican border and through farm land. The terrain was super flat but the roads were horrible. You had to hold on as the pot holes, humps, debris, sand and not much of a berm made it challenging. Glad I don't  have false teeth. They would have rattle out of my mouth. Luckily not much traffic. All part of the experience. 
We were below sea level for a portion of the ride. -35 feet in elevation😂. 

We rode through the Carrot Capital of the world and apparently the Center of the World. Stopped by a hot spring in the middle of nowhere with a campground across the street. 

Our guides provide a couple of rest stops a day for us. So we can keep our water bottles full. They make sure everyone is accounted for. It was hot day with a beautiful blue sky. 
Rode 64 miles and 1000 feet of climbing

Day 3 -March 9th -  Jacumba to El Centro, Ca; Wowza - what a eventful day. First a couple of us rode to get closer the wall. We got til the sign said Restricted and border patrol were watching. We'd rather ride our bikes then ride in their patrol truck. 😂

Then, I had one of the most absolutely funniest ride in my life. We were cruising down Rt 80 at 6% grades for almost 10 miles. It was so friggin cool.

Then, after a fellow rider caught me cause I went the wrong way. I'm so glad she chased me down. That's the beauty of this ride we look out for one another. Anyways, a Blue Angels Air Show broke out. Holy hell, the show was right over our heads. People were lining the streets to watch the show.  
The weather was prefect.

60 miles 1000 feet

Day 2 is over. Alpine to Jacuma. It wasn't as bad as thought. It was hard but not impossible.  Today, actually was an amazing day. The scenery was breathtaking. Rode next to the Wall and the Mexican border which was cool to see in person. In fact, I didn't see anyone trying to cross. Saw lots of border agents. Hopefully, tomorrow we ride closer to the wall. 52 miles 4900 ft of climbing 


Each evening our traveling chef prepares our dinner. Tonight we had chili and corn bread. We gather as a group to go over the next days route and plans. Like what time is breakfast and where our rest stops will be. We have 2 guides making sure we are safe and taking care of all of the logistics.

Today was one of our tougher days out of the 58 days. Lauren is our chef. 

Day 1 is in the books. It started off a bit rainy and cloudy. We dipped our back tire in the Pacific. It stayed  overcast and cool all day. We rode almost 39 miles and climbed 2900 feet. It was a great way to get started on this journey. I'm with 24 other ladies. Right now we are figuring out the system and routine. There is a trailer carrying our luggage. We found out that if you are the first riders back you may want to put your bags in last. We were in first and our bags were under a lot of other bags. A little digging was required. 

This trip is about to become real. After almost a year of planning we take off tomorrow morning at 8:00 am to begin our adventure. This afternoon we had an orientation on what to expect over the next 2 months. We met our guides Amy, Cindi and our Chef Lauren. I'm riding with 23 other women from all over and the USA with different riding experiences from a life time of riding to just recently getting a bike. It's going to be epic.  San Diego is a bike friendly city.