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Site Name

Mileage Accum.



Seattle to Skykomish

Skykomish High School

64.0 64.0



Skykomish to Cashmere

Chelan County Fairgrounds

69.2 133.2



Cashmere to Grand Coulee

Grand Coulee Middle School

103.2 236.4



Grand Coulee to Spokane

Gonzage Univ.

89.9 326.3



Day off in Spokane

Gonzage Univ.




"Spokane to Sandpoint, ID"

Sandpoint High School

79.0 405.3



"Sandpoint to Thompson Falls, MT"

Thompon Falls High School

87.6 492.9



Thompson Falls to Missoula

University of MT - Missoula

102.1 595.0



Day off in Missoula

University of MT - Missoula




Day off in Missoula

University of MT - Missoula




Missoula to Avon

Echo Valley Campground

99.0 694.0



Avon to Townsend

Townsend High School

60.8 754.8



Townsend to Harlowton

HS Football Field

100.6 855.4



Harlowton to Billings

Castle Rock Middle School

94.7 950.1



Day off in Billings

Castle Rock Middle School




Billings to Hardin

Hardin Intermediate School

54.3 1004.4



"Hardin to Sheridan, WY"

Sheridan County Fairgrounds

87.2 1091.6



Sheridan to Gillette

Cam-Plex Park

114.0 1205.6



Gillette to Newcastle

Gertrude Burns Elementary School

74.3 1279.9



"Newcastle to Rapid City, SD"


85.2 1365.1



Day off in Rapid City





Rapid City to Kadoka

Frances Peterson Fields

103.4 1468.5



Kadoka to Pierre

Steamboat Park

94.6 1563.1



Pierre to Miller

Crystal Park

73.6 1636.7



Miller to DeSmet

DeSmet Athletic Fields

78.1 1714.8



"DeSmet to Tyler, MN"

Lincoln County Fairgrounds

78.8 1793.6



Tyler to New Ulm

New Ulm Middle School

88.8 1882.4



Day off in New Ulm

New Ulm Middle School




New Ulm to Owatanna

Steele County Fairgrounds

70.7 1953.1



Owatanna to Wynona

Winona State University

89.4 2042.5



"Wynona to Viroqua, WI"

Vernon County Fairgrounds

65.8 2108.3



Viroqua to Madison

University of Wisconsin - Madison

108.9 2217.2



Day off in Madison

University of Wisconsin - Madison




"Madison to Belvidere, IL"

Spencer Park

80.6 2297.8



Belvidere to Naperville

North Central College

64.4 2362.2



"Naperville to La Porte, IN"

Kesling Park

102.8 2465.0



La Porte to Kendallville

Bixler Lake Park

88.9 2553.9



"Kendallville to Napoleon, OH"

Henry County Fairgrounds

69.9 2623.8



Napoleon to Sandusky

Erie Co. Fairgrounds

85.5 2709.3



Day off in Sandusky

Erie Co. Fairgrounds




Sandusky to Chagrin Falls

South Chagrin Reservation Polo Field

78.4 2787.7



Chagrin Falls to Canfield


55.7 2843.4



"Canfield to Indiana, PA"

Indiana Univ PA

105.6 2949.0



Indiana to Hollidaysburg

American Legion Park

70.2 3019.2



Hollidaysburg to Mifflintown

Juniata High School

77.7 3096.9



Mifflintown to Gettysburg

Gettysburg Area Middle School

66.9 3163.8



"Gettysburg to Frederick, MD"

7th Day Adventist Church/School (old)

36.9 3200.7



Frederick to Wasington DC

Washington, DC

59.2 3259.9
Done 8-Aug-00 Back to Work College Park MD    

18-Jun-00 College Park MD to Seattle WA
The trip to Seattle

5000 miles
Avg speed 600MPH

I'm going to be sending some updates from my bike trip. If any you don't want to recieve these in the future just reply back with something like.."Hey Clay! You big goofy biker, dont send me your crap!" Same thing applies in reverse. If you wish to forward this on to someone, be my guest. Also, I'm doing this on a teeny tiny keyboard so be prepared for lots of spelling errors and creative abbreviations.

Well, Michelle and I are cruising along at 35,000 ft somewhere between Dallas and Seattle. It was pretty rough getting up this morning at 3:30 tocatch a 6am flight from BWI, especially after spending 8 hrs on the road. These past few days have been a complete whirlwind of packing and preparing for 6.5 weeks in a tent. M and I attended to my brothers wedding in PA on Saturday and unfortunately had to leave directly from the reception to get in home Saturday evening. All the fam out in the 'sticks' were disappointed we couldn't stay longer. Oh well, at least we were able to see Tims wedding. A funny story from the wedding... When the pastor got to the part with the vows where the groom is supposed to repeat saying "Do you Tim Gump take Laura Sines" etc etc. Tim let out with a loud affirmative "I DO" before the pastor could even get to the 'to be your lawful wedded wife' part. The whole church was in stitches. The pastor put his arm around Tim and laughing said "Now just hold on a minute there Bud!" Those crazy country folks. :)

My last night at home was kind of sad. Michelle and I both have mixed emotions about the trip. Its exciting to be making such a great trip, but also sad to be apart from friends, family, and each other for such a long time. I've been so busy for the past month or so It hasn't really sunk in. Well, there is no turning back now. This time tomorrow I will be inching my way up the Cascade Mts.

University of Washington
Seattle WA
8:45pm Seattle time.
Well, its sinking in now. Michelle and I arrived OK and just as importantly so did the bike. I've gone though registration and a endless meeting going over all the details and logistics of the trip. I should be exhausted but I'm way to wired to sleep. I'll bet I sleep well tomorrow night after 64 miles in the Mts. So far everyone seems very nice. Somebody told me the average age if 47. Youngest is 17. Oldest is 79. Cycling is certainly a sport for all ages. Seattle is very nice what little I have seen. Very Lush and green. Of course it is overcast, but they are calling for a break in the clouds for the afternoon with temps in the 70s. PERFECT biking weather.


19-Jun-00 Seattle to Skykomish WA
The First Day. So Far so Good

65 miles
avg speed 12.1
What a great first day. The weather gods were smiling. It was PERFECT biking weather. 65-70 deg and overcast. Nice and cool. We even had a tail wind for most of the last 10 miles.
.There was a nice little ceremony at the start where the somebody from the ALA said a few words. It turns out there are 201 riders and we have raised 2 MILLION dollars. That's pretty amazing.
Michelle and I said our final goodbyes :( and I was off! We left Seattle via the Burke-Gilman rail-trail. What a great way to start. Mostly flat and scenic. The trail hugs the river heading north. From there we headed into the cascades. Right off the trail about 30 riders got LOST! (Yes I was among them) We only went about 0.25 mile out of the way. It wasn't our fault. The route wasn't marked well at one intersection. That is my story and I'm sticking to it! There was very little climbing until after 30 miles. Then the route became very deceptive. The road looks like its flat when you are actually going up into the foothills. Many of us kept checking our tires to see if they were flat. "It aint the tires that are flat pal!"
Skykomish is at 971ft and we started at sea level. In the morning we tackle Stephens Pass at over 4000 ft. YIKES. In previous Big Rides the route went through Stephens pass on the first day. Evidently it was just too much for many folks so this year we go through on the 2nd day. THANKGOD! I'm pretty tired with what we did today.
The scenery in this area is amazing. Everything is so lush and green its hard to believe you are not in the middle of a rain forest. I'm almost afraid that if I stand still I will be covered in vegetation. The mountains around us are also lush and green and are perpetually shrouded in clouds. I'm sure we will get soaked before we leave this climate.
I'm continually impressed with the people I meet on this ride. Everyone is very friendly and outgoing and best of all very interested in meeting new people. Other rides I've done it seems there are too many riders and the tour is to short to bother to try and get to know anyone. I guess since there are only 201 of us and we are going to be together for 6 weeks we might as well get to know each other.
One interesting guy I met today was Rob from Phoenix. This guy is riding this tricked out recumbent bike that has been customized to look like a Harley. Its got leather saddlebags, chrome fenders, round dials, and even a gas tank painted in flames. And in the tank is a CD player and speakers. The truly amazing thing is he has never ridden it farther than 100 miles over two days. I will try to get a picture of it. Hell I'm going to see if I can ride it for a day or so.

Thats it for now.

P.S. Wish Dave And Deb Donoho happy anniversary on Tuesday.

20-Jun-00 Skykomish to Cashmere WA
Steven's Pass. The First big climb.

70.5 miles 11.8 avg
Today ride is dedicated to Dave and Deb Donoho since it is their Anniversary! Congrats to you both. I hope your marriage is as good as today's ride was.
Once again the weather is great. This time it was all sunshine temps in to low 80s. We started the day with a loooooonnnnngggg climb to Stephens Pass. Went from 971 ft to 4071 in the first 15 miles. It actually wasn't to bad. The grade was no more than 7% and there was plenty of awesome scenery to take in on the "churn and burn" as one rider puts it, to the top. The crew told us to prepare for bad weather on the summit so everyone dressed for warmth. It was rather cool at the top, but only in the 60s.
On the way up I stopped at an incredible waterfall called 'Deceptive Falls'. (don't ask me why its called that) It was truly awesome. The water was just this churning mass of foam for at least 300 yards. I'm estimating the drop was around 400ft. I took some pictures that you should be able to check out soon.
After the summit it was a 12 mile downhill run to lunch at a very small and quaint place called the 59er Diner. This place was warned ahead of time and did a great job feeding everyone.
The rest of the day was spent doing a few smaller climbs (one which went up 500ft in 1.6miles) with long downhill runs. We even had a killer tailwind in the afternoon. The fun stops tomorrow when we go 103 miles with half of it through the desert with no shade at all. They are talking about 100 degree temps. Sunscreen and Water, and lots of it. This will be the toughest day so far I'm sure.
The most striking thing today was the transition from lush green damp forest to dry sandy and sparse vegetation all within a few hours ride. Where we are camped you can actually see the mountains all around us, and the ones to the east are completely bare while the further you look west the more trees there are.
By the way, there is a reporter here from www.GORP.com covering the ride.
I'm having a really good time and meeting lots of interesting people. I've determined that one of the coolest things about this trip is that every day I get to get up and go somewhere I have never been before.
Thats it for now, gotta hit the sack to get a early start on the big day on the big ride. IT must be time for bed because I can hear people around me snoring. :)



Lush and green


Up and up


Deceptive Falls


Howard at the top!


The 59'er Diner. Good burgers.


He-man Clay makes it to the top!


Model A Ford club.


Sweet downhills.


Clay on Rob's Harley Bike.


21-Jun-00 Cashmere to Grand Coulee
Training? We don't need no stinking Training!

103.5 miles
12.8 avg
Well I'm sitting in a diner about 25miles from camp with 74 miles behind me. I've just come to the realization that this Biking thing is HARD! I've been cycling since 6am with probably another 2 hours to go. Long day today. Why didn't I train more? WHYWHYWHY! I'm getting passed by everybody today. I hate that. It really has been a great day. Just call me pokey.
Ok, its 10pm. I did finally make it in. Made it to camp at 6:30. Left at 6am. No matter how you slice it 100miles is a Looonnggg way. One thing that made today really tough was a 2100 ft climb in 7.4 miles at around 24 to 32 miles. On a century it is important to really put those miles behind you and that is tough to do at 5mph.
Its really amazing how different Eastern WA is from the western part. After our climb I was hoping for a big downhill. It didn't work that way. We then rode a plateau for the next 40 miles that was absolutely deserted. There was NOTHING. No dairy queen, no gas station, not even a house to be seen. Simply miles of sagebrush and wheat fields. At one point (and I'm not making this up) a tumbleweed went by.
The last 30 miles from the diner was beautiful. We went north right up a canyon with the Columbia river on the left. The views were amazing. Which is a good thing because I needed something to occupy myself while riding, and riding, and riding.
So, interested in food for the bigriders? We have an actuall rolling kitchen that sets up at camp to provide breakfasts and dinner. This thing is wild. Its basically a 40ft trailer rig with thier own staff and everything. The food is pretty good too. Since today was a century in the hills and I wanted to make very sure I didn't bonk I ate quite a bit.

  • Breakfast...scrambled eggs, french toast, and ham.
  • Later while on the road...bagel w/cc, apple, snickers bar, small box of fruit loops, a bannana.
  • Late Lunch....Chicken sandwich, salad,
  • Rest Stops... banana, apple, and another snickers just to make those last 10 miles. :)
  • Dinner...Chicken Fajitas, rice, beans, and a salad.
  • And I must have drank about 12 bottles of water and another 8 of gatorade.

Lot of food aint it! Ya gotta love being a bike tourist. And you people thought I would lose weight on this trip. HAH!
Tommorrow is 90 miles to Spokane.
Till then.


Local Art. Kind of Wacky.



22-Jun-00 Grand Coulee to Spokane
Clay's epic struggle with a bee.

92.5 miles
12.8 avg mph (wow same as yesterday)
What can I say. This is starting to sound like a broken record. Another day in biking paradise, flat smooth pavement, temps in the low 70s, tailwinds, great scenery. Ho hum I'm bored. :) The day was just so awesome that several times I caught myself ginning like an idiot. What a great way to see the country.
The first 10 miles were spent climbing out of Coulee. This was no small feat but nothing like previous days. From here it was all wheat lands and rolling hills the rest of the day. Being from the east coast I'm continually in awe of the scale of the landscape around here. We have topped several hills where you can see for at least 20 miles in any direction and see nothing but 'amber waves of grain.' Not a house, tree, or structure of any kind in sight. For you Marylanders I thought today's ride reminded me a little of Rural Howard county. Except you take the county and stretch it out until it about 5 times bigger. Same hills just longer approaches. The scenery didn't really change any until we got into Spokane so I will tell you about my fight with a bee.
So I'm tooling down the road loving life and minding my own beeswax (that's for you Mark) when I feel a bee sting my back. Ouchh! So I whack at the thing and lean back and keep crankin'. About 10sec later I'm stung AGAIN! Damn it! OUCH!! So I have to stop (and I hate to stop for any reason other than food and ice cream) and sure enough a big ass yellow jacket is still on my seat. Grrrrr. Mr. Bee is in heaven now. :)
So we have made it to Spokane where we get a blessed day off. I think everyone is in serious need of a day off the bike to recover. Even better is we are staying in a dorm in Gonzaga University. Now when you have been living in a tent a dorm room is like the four seasons. And to top it off by some quark of fate I was assigned a single with a couch and everything! Lucky me! Actually I'm mainly happy about not having to walk to port-a-johns at 2am when nature calls.
If you are interested check out the ride reports and pictures from Nathen the GORP reporter. Goto http://www.bigride.com and there should be a link to them. Nathen took a few pictures today with me in them. I don't know when or if they will make it to the page or not.
Alright, tomorrow is a day of rest so until then... buh-bye


Rob and a biker chick.


My luxurious room.


Ahh. Nap time.


Uh, are we there yet?


Note the speakers!


Nathen from Gorp and some fat ass.


Columbia River.


Self Portriat


That is one big red wagon



23-Jun-00 Day off in Spokane
Exciting headline! Clay does laundry.

And on the 5th day Clay rested. And it was good. Actually I did some laundry, bought something warm to wear from REI (because I'm an idiot and didn't listen to Michelle like I should've) and installed speakers on the bike. Speakers mean I get to rock out while I ride. It was great to sleep indoors and just walk around and stretch those legs.



Betty and Kelly at the laundrymat.


Kelly, Father John and I hanging out in the coffie shop.


Plunking on a borrowed backpack guitar.


24-Jun-00 Spokane to Sandpoint, ID
Cowboy Parades and Big Ring Sluts

80 miles
14 mph avg.
Today is rained on our parade. Literally. After 5 days of perfect weather you knew sooner later it was bound to happen. I checked the local paper at breakfast and was assured that it would be clear with temps in the 70s. So without a stitch of raingear I headed north out of town. The sky was overcast but the newspaper said it would be SUNNY! The first 40 miles flew by and although it was cloudy and a little chilly life was still good. When we rolled into Newport WA there was a Parade about to start. So of course many of us cyclist had to stay and watch. (some even joined in!) What a great little parade down the only street in the little town of Newport. I expected to see Aunt Bea and Andy sitting on the porch. Well, just like the cliché it started to rain on the parade. A few of us made the decision any other seasoned cyclist would do in such a situation... We ducked into a bar and had lunch. Kelly's Bar to be precise. Open since 1894 straight through prohibition. By the time lunch was over the sun had come out! Clay wins again! RIDE ON!
So about 20 miles from town I notice that I'm going much slower than I should be. When this happens I'm convinced I have a semi flat tire. But its always me who is flat. Not this time. The front tire sprung a leak. Over an hour, two broken tire irons, one failed patch, and a oversized spare tube later I'm back on the road.
10 miles from town its the ripping headwind that is slowing me down. There are huge storm clouds ahead and I can do nothing about it but try to haul ass for town. I make it to camp with droplets starting to come down and rush to set up the tent and take cover inside my hobble. I just make it before the storm hits. Almost. MY gear stayed dry but I don't. No Biggie. I fall dead asleep in the tent and when I wake up and head outside (the sun is back. Clay wins!) I find out the Crew were looking for me because I forgot to check in! They really keep an eye on you on the BigRide.

Right now I'm sitting in the Cold Water creek Cafe in Sandpoint ID enjoying a thick hot chocolate and listening to live classical guitar. I had no idea Cold Water Creek were based here. There is over 13000 sq ft of retail space built into a bridge over Sand Creek. It's amazing what you can wander into looking for Ice Cream.
I'm sorry to report that I did not pass one solitary single Dairy Queen in Washington State. Sorry John.


You can take the boy out of western PA...


Lady Gazelle


Biking isn't enough for these guys.


Hello Idaho! We are going to zip across the panhandle.


"Hey, um, er... Do you know your ass says you are a slut?"


A "Big Ring" slut. I guess that is better.

Here is the deal. She was on a women's racing team where the coach forced them to ride in the big ring all the time. Hence the name!


Here I am fixing my FIRST and ONLY flat tire. Gotta love Mr. Tuffy.



25-Jun-00 "Sandpoint to Thompson Falls, MT"

Sandpoint ID to Thompson Falls MT
90 miles
14.1 avg speed
Today was good, but very long. I didn't roll into camp until 7pm and its mostly not my fault! For starters my front tire was flat again this morning. That set me back a good 30min. Also, just about the time I start to get used to the schedule around here we pass into Mt. time and lose an hour. Of course it didn't help that I was among the last to get breakfast, and then decided it was a good idea to join some folks at starbucks before taking off. That pretty much set the tone of the day. Ride a litte, stop a lot. The scenery leaving Idaho and entering Montana gave good reason to stop. Our route was mostly rolling hills with some flats thrown in. No big climbs today for a change. We followed Idaho (then Montana) rt 200 wish closely tracked the Clark Fork river. We were flanked on both sides by mountains all day but thankfully never had to climb them. The scenery was again amazing. There are evergreens everywhere around here. And of course passing the state line gave another excuse for picture taking.
At the state line a few of us were mullung over the reason that the Idaho sign and the Montana Sign were about 400 yards apart on the road. Was this some sort of no-mans land? I came to the conclusion that it should be a soverign state with its own ruler. I dubbed this new land "Idono".
"What state is this?" IDONO!!
We were all dying over that one. Heat and many miles can make you giddy. I finally had lunch at Trout Creek MT at mile 65 which was a mistake because by then it was 4pm. And of course it wasnt my fault the Bear Creek ice cream shop was just inside of town. You can't pass them up because in this land of no Dairy Queens a milkshake will have to do.
Mondays ride into Missoula is going to be a long one (Century #2) with a 10 mile climb at the end. Then we get TWO rest days. This will be really good because there are many riders who are really starting to hurt. A few have had to stay off the bike for a few days while taking cortizone. Most of the riders though are doing an amazing job. Surprizingly only a few have done anything longer than a few days at a time on a bike before. There are many riders here who just decided to go for it without any real bike touring experience at all. Pretty amazing to me.
Signing off from Thompson falls MT.



Tip-Toe through the road side wild flowers.


Are we there yet?


Welcome to Montana. I'm going to be here for awhile.


Coldwater creek.


Hmm.. Hot Java. It is actually a little chilly in the mornings around here.


Rob and Alison hang out with us.


Phil Detmer. He is the man!


26-Jun-00 Thompson Falls to Missoula
Headwinds howl while Clay eats Bison.

104 miles
12.1 avg
"Hello, I'm Mr. Headwind. I'll be your guide for today. I will stay with you every step of the way. I plan on blowing from the north east at a steady 10-20mpg all day. This should give big riders a nice breeze to ride into for most of the day. That way they won't be tempted to bike to fast when they should be crawling along at 10mpg enjoying the scenery." Our pal Mr. Headwind made today much more difficult than it had to be. I knew I was in trouble when at 6am there was a slight breeze. It should be very still that early, and the winds just pick up the longer the day goes on. It wasn't until we turned more south at mile 65 that the winds were more in our favour. I would tell you the scenery was gourgous and that once again we rode along in a valley/plain while being flanked on all sides by simply georgous mountains, but I wont. Frankly its been pretty much the same for the last three days so I'm getting used to it. We still followed the Clark Fork River and route 200 except the difference was that we could see the Snow Capped Rockys peeking out over the Mts. They call out to me... "Clay... you slow pokey recumbent rider, you have to cross me soon." :) I don't think the people in Montana really understand the concept of summer. It was bloody freezing last night in the tent. I had on wool socks, shorts, riding tights, t-shirt, and a fleece jacket and I still kept waking up cold. Since it is in the 40s when I left camp I have to wear a few layers and keep peeling them off during the day. The high for the day was around 80 I think. Several people were grumbling about the heat and I would take that opportunity to tell them what they have in store for them out east. I'll be begging for 40 degree nights then. So today was another century day, and had it not been for Mr. Windbags I would have made much better time. Oh well, the important thing is I finished before dinner. Its strange because I feel stronger, but I'm having trouble converting that to much of an improvement on the road. There were several riders grumbling about today's ride. You know a rest day is needed when that happens, also it would be darn near impossible for the rest of the ride to be as spectacular as the first few days. On a culinary note It seems my stomach has caught up with my metabolism. I'm eating practically normal meals now. The breakfasts are a little larger, and I try to eat while riding, but everything else is down to normal portions. Lunch today was at a neat little place whose specialty was Buffalo Burgers. We are in Bison country around here. I passed on it this time. So now I'm off for two days. I plan on doing some whitewater rafting, visiting the Adventure Cycling headquarters, and taking it easy. We are staying at the Univ of Montana which is a very LARGE campus. The next stop for me is up the street to a local Micro Brew place for a well deserved cold one. I will hoist one for my virtual riding buddies back home.


Montana Scenery


The open road


Hmm Buffalo Burgers.


My fans are everywhere!


Over the shoulder shot of Stacy.



27-Jun-00 and 28-Jun-00 Two Days off in Missoula
Clays Missoula Adventure

Sorry Dorothy but I'm having the best time here in Missoula. I'm sitting in Caras Park downtown enjoying our second rest day. They have this wonderful event called Out to Lunch in Caras Park where there are lots of food vendors and live music. I'm soaking up sun and listening to a live 5-piece jazz band with a lead singer that I swear moonlights as a drag queen. There must be over 1000 people here. Mom you will love this. During their set they played a jamming version of Baby Elephant Walk! (one of my favorite childhood piano tunes) I LOVE THIS PLACE!!
My big adventure yesterday was getting together with the OTHER Clay on this trip (Yes there really is another Clay and he is a really nice guy from Mississippi.) and hiking up the trail to the huge M (for Univ of Montana) on Mount Sentinel. Nothing better for sore legs than a 1000ft climb. We get to the M and have a few locals take our picture. Well next thing I know the four of us are heading even higher on an even steeper section of the trail so we can catch the sunset. I snapped some great pictures I really hope they come out OK. When we finally make it to the bottom I innocently ask them if there is a Dairy Queen in town.
"Yeah sure its a few miles away though, we were going to go there, want a ride?" Hmmm.. Does the Pope wear a funny hat? Does Clay ride a goofy Bike? Does Clinton cheat on his wife? HELL YEAH I want to go. So Clay and Clay hop into the car and off we go. Now I figure I've bikes 600 miles without a DQ in sight and I usually allow myself one Blizzard per 50 miles. So when I get to the counter I order 12 blizzards. OK so I only got one, but it would have been well within my rights to get 12. Montana RULES! So John, I finally got my Blizzard. 1st of many I'm sure.
(Later that same day... :)
Just got back from a half day rafting trip on the Clark Fork river. It was a really nice way to spend and afternoon and the scenery was nice but to be honest ever since doing the New River and the upper Gulley all other trips have paled in comparison. The best part of the rafting trip was watching this family on the boat with us. They had this little 12-yr old girl who had never been rafting and was thoroughly (sp?) enjoying herself. The funniest thing was when the guide was talking about another company he used to work for and the owner didn't take care of his employees. He said he was just shooting himself in the foot by doing that. Nickie (the little girl) pipes up "He shot himself?! Why did he shoot himself!?" We were all dying over that one. Kids these days. I guess you had to be ther. 
Unfortunately my stupid camera got a little wet and I lost a roll of pictures and I don't know if it will work again or not. I'll open it up tonight and see if drying it out doesn't help.
Other high points of my 'weekend' include checking out the Adventure Cycling headquarters here in Missoula. You bikers out there probably have heard of them. They had a great display of pictures from all the cyclist that have come through town. In in particular that struck me very funny was a group of 5 guys calling themselves 'Team V'. They had a few odd customs such as 1. Taking note of the number of middle fingers shot at them. (32) 2. Illegally camping every night. Power lines, cemetery, church. Wherever. 3. My personal favorite. Riding naked across every state line. Those crazy cycling tourists.

My impression of Missoula is very positive. This is a great town. It is just big enough, I've heard between 50-80k, so there is lots to do and places to go (meaning bars :), but it is also small enough so it still has a homey feel. Even the river guide Justice was telling me that he is always seeing people he knows on the street downtown. This city seems an odd mix of transients, cowboys, and college kids. Also in July the Rainbow festival is going to be here. This has brought in quite a few from the hippie crowd. Actually our river guide had a very funny term I had never heard before to describe hippies with money. He called them "Trustafarians". I'm sure I butchered the spelling but you get the idea.
Well, tomorrow we have another 100 miles of Montana prairie land in the heat. I'm already sucking down water by the gallon to try and hydrate.
My e-mail list keeps growing to include people I mistakenly forgot and others so I hope I have everyone. If not just e-mail me or feel free to forward.


We Big Riders do exciting things like Laundry!


See that little "M" on the mountain? That is where I'm headed.


Clayton Thomas and Thomas Clayton


Here is the "M" up close.


Holy Sweet mother of god its a Dairy Queen!


Here is the nice lady who gives us a ride to the DQ. Her dog likes ice cream too.


29-Jun-00 Missoula to Avon
American Pie and Our Pal Phil

102 miles
Avg speed 13.?
Well its back on the road for the Big Ride today. Another day, another century. Its a big country, and it takes a lot of miles to cross it. Once again the weather gods have smiled on us today. It was hot by Montana standards and got up to the mid 80s. Whoopdii Doo. Thats practically a cold front in Maryland. We even had a pretty decent tailwind in the afternoon although It seems no matter what I never get into camp before 6pm. Especially when we do 100 miles. Today was also another day of rolling farm land. Very beautiful and very desolate. There is certainly no problem with urban sprawl around here. It was so sparse that the gas station at mile 40 was the ONLY thing until Avon. So for the next 60 miles there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. It is actually rather difficult for my suburban brain to comprehend that we can bike for 60 miles and not pass a single solitary manmade structure within sight of the road except for barb wire fence. So this meant trouble for me. As John can tell any of you, when I bike all day, I need to eat a lunch. Lunch wasn't available except for the gas station at mile 40 which was way to early. I can nibble all day but that doesn't compare to a real sandwich. So anyway I got rather tired by the end of the day. As we got closer to Avon I'm thinking 'Yes! Food will come soon!' And lo and behold there was a little cafe about 5 miles from camp where the route marking crew had put the symbol for PI on the road with an arrow. Hmmmmm PIE!
Amusing story for the day. A few of us are sitting in the cafe enjoying sweet blessed pie and we start talking about Phil. Phil is the 79 year old rider. Everyone is in awe of Phils determination and stamina. He is quite slow, but he rides every day and makes it to camp on his own every day. A really amazing and very nice man. So anyway we are discussing where we last saw Phil. (We all watch out for Phil) All of the sudden Phil comes crashing through the doors and yells for the entire diner to hear, "Thats it! I'm completely wiped out. I have no more water, no more food, and no more energy!" We were all floored by that one. He joined us and someone quickly got him a Coke (that is all he wanted) and then he was ready to bike to camp.
So tonight we are camping at about 4800 ft. Its warm now but you can bet I'm bundled up. Tomorrow we mark an important milestone by crossing the Continental Divide at McDonald pass. That will be the highest point reached on our trip at 6250ft. We will be climbing for the first 11miles and then it will be downhill to lunch in Helena MT and more rolling farmland to Townsend.
P.S. Its 9:20am and I'm at the Continental Divide. Top of the world baby!! This trip is awesome. 11 mile climb and now I get a nice fast downhill.


30-Jun-00 Avon to Townsend
Crossing the Continental Divide. More nasty headwinds.

63.2 miles
12.3 avg speed
Today we crossed the Continental Divide at MacDonald pass. The climb actually wasn't that bad. It was long but steady. These western climbs are really nothing compared to what we have in the east. At the top everybody spent quite a bit of time taking pictures. Afterwards it was basically downhill for 16 miles into Helena. (The capitol of Montana) The first 6 miles of the downhill was pretty steep. I got the trusty bent up to 43 mph and would've surely gone faster were it not for a headwind that was starting to wake up around 10am.
Ok, so lets talk about the headwind. Today was supposed to be an easy day. Long climb in the morning coast to lunch, then easy rolling hills to camp. Only 60 miles. No problem. WRONG! After leaving Helena we encountered the worst wind yet coming directly from the east. It was a steady 12-15 mph. Now to you non cyclist that may not sound like much, and when you are standing still it just feels like a nice little breeze, but I'm here to tell you, it bites. I was really pushing it and only averaging around 10mph. So basically our nice little 33 mile jaunt to camp became a long stream of riders all wearing that cycling face. (you cyclists have to explain the face to everyone else) So much for the easy day. To top it off I had to buy a new back tire because the sidewall of my BRAND SPANKING NEW tire bought from College Park bikes (that place STINKS I'm never going back!) was fraying and the tube was starting to bulge. I made it to camp and got a new continental touring tire. AND to continue my little gripe and moan section here, there was a semi that took it upon himself to try and run every cyclist he passed today off the road. Several of us were bitterly complaining about this guy. He would ride the white line forcing us over the rumble strips into the gravel and then blare his horn the entire time he went by. Grrrrr.. Most trucks have been very nice to us but there are a few of them out there. Grrr
So, to put a positive spin on what should have been a much better day, I have showered, eaten (two things that are required to remove the cyclist face) and I'm sitting in my tent looking at a really pretty rainbow. You know what they say, "A bad day on the bike is better than a good day at work"
Tomorrow we are back to our normal mileage of 100+. I'm going to try to get an early start to try and get as many miles behind me before the headwinds start again. Everything depends on which way the wind is blowing.
I wanted to thank all of you for sending email back and saying hello. Its really nice to get notes from friends back home. If I dont always reply its just because there are only so many hours in the day and I'm spending quite a few of them biking! :) But I do love hearing from you.
Next stop.. Harlowton.


1-Jul-00 Townsend to Harlowton
Hurricane Harlowton!

101.3 miles
13.5 avg speed
After yesterdays headwinds I really wanted to get a early start today, so I set the alarm for 4:30am and that is exactly what time I turned it off and went back to sleep. Oh well, best laid plans.. I did finally get rolling around 6:20 which is not to bad. The first 11 miles were rolling hills. The next 10 were spent wandering around a really pretty canyon which took another 5 to climb out of. After that it was mostly downhill to the 'lunch stop' at White Sulpher Springs. Mr Headwind only made brief appearances so things were looking good. We were told to get something to eat at mile 42.5 in White Sulpher Springs which was just way to early so I bought a sandwich at the exxon for later. I also picked up a little biking music for the walkman. Marshall Tuckers greatest hits! A little southern rock for those long stretches with no radio stations. And only $5. From there the landscape was very pretty and very sparce. They were right to tell us to eat because there was NOTHING for the next 68 miles. We did pass a stretch of land near the Castle Mountains once called the "Richest Acre in the World" because of all the gold found in the streams. The only reason I know this is I stop at and read the historical markers when its uphill or in a headwind. At this point Mr. Windy popped up for awhile. So the day went, I would ride for awhile Jamming to redneck rock, then stop every 15-20 miles to eat. The secret to finishing those long days is to eat all day long.
The wind was mainly sideways all afternoon making the day much easier than it could have been. As a reminder of the pain we could've endured we had a nasty headwind for the last 10 miles. So I ended up in camp about 4pm. Pretty good for me.
The real excitement for the day game during dinner. We have been watching storms all around us most of the afternoon and just as I was ready to sit down to dinner, a monster storm ripped through the area. The large tents that were set up were lifting up off the ground like they were going to fly away! Several of us were hanging onto them to hold them down. The wind was REALLY blowing. The crew started yelling at us to get away from the tents. So several of us grabbed our plates and took cover from the driving rain in a GARBAGE SHELTER! IT was actually more like a garage. Very clean with a roof and open on one side. So we made the best of it by grabbing some chairs and hanging out. Somebody (ok it was me :) even grabbed the hot water dispenser and some hot chocolate mix from the mobile kitchen for us to enjoy while we waited out the storm. Big Riders are nothing if not resourceful!
My tent worked well and all my stuff made it through fine. I've battened down the hatches and am calling it a night.
Tomorrow We head for Billings where we get another day off. I've signed up for a bus trip to see Crazy Horse and Mt Rushmore on Monday.

2-Jul-00 Harlowton to Billings
Clay Finally Gets a Little Tail...wind.

96.1 miles
16.5 avg speed
Todays ride is dedicated to Alison Capron. It is her 2nd Birthday! Happy Birthday Alison! Get big soon so you can start pedaling with us. When you get older you can read this and know that your 'Uncle' Clay was thinking about you.

Wow what a day. It was like payback time for the crappy winds we have been getting lately. There was a very nice tailwind first thing in the morning. I just latched onto a pace line and cranked most of the day. My avg speed at the halfway stop (47miles) was 18.5 mpg! Everybody loves to have me in their pace line because I'm the one with the Tunes! Thanks to Mr. Romano for the powered speakers. They ROCK! People are starting to give me different tapes now. I guess they got tired of Marshall Tucker. :)
After the half way point we turned south and lost our winds. Things got tough for the next 15 miles but again I latched onto yet another pace line (a slower one this time) a cranked away. I felt really strong today. I guess the legs are starting to catch up with all the miles we have been doing. Of course having some music to listen didn't hurt either. Actually got into camp about 3:30 which is VERY early for me.
I'm not going to talk about the scenery because it really isn't much to write home about. Rolling farm land. Desolate, sparse, and actually pretty in its own barren way. The nicest view was coming into Billing. This town sits in a huge canyon so as we approached the city there was a wonderful overlook where you could see the whole city.
So we get Monday off in Billings and my big plans consist of laundry, postcards, and ice cream. The trip to see Crazy Horse isn't until our stop in Rapid City. One big change is we are not staying in a dorm in Billings and are camping instead. This is kind of a drag because I have been spoiled by the luxury of the dorm. That is kind of weird in its own right.
Be sure to check the GORP page because Clem (the riding reporter) was interviewing people for his report today and of started with me. I have no idea what I said. Something silly probably.
Something amusing for the day... One of our rest stops was at a bar that had a sign outside advertising something called the "Testicle Festival". Welcome to Montana! :)
P.S. I've been living a lie! I just realized My tape is not Marshall Tucker its actually Molly Hatchet. Oh well, its still redneck rock.


3-Jul-00 Day off in Billings
The Wing Ding

Day off in Billings MT.
Days off are a good thing. First off every single stitch of clothing I have needed to be washed. And there was a great little Laundry-mat and Coffee shop close to camp that became project Big Scrub for most of the day. After a little Java and suds it was time to head to the hopping metropolis of downtown Billings Montana. Population 81,000 making it the largest city in MT. Did you know there are only 6 people per square mile in Montana?
Today is the first day of a 5 day convention held in Billings called the "Wing Ding". Now what the heck is that you may ask?? This is a gathering of a very interesting subculture of people (15,000 of them for this convention) that are very much into their Honda Gold Wing motorcycles. They have come from all over the world to show off their machines. For those of you that have never seen a Honda Gold Wing it is a very large touring motorcycle. These machines are made for comfort over long distances. They start at around $20k and can cost over $30k when you get done with the must have accessories such as TV screen for front and back passenger (I'm not making that up), airbrushed details on all panels, trailer, etc etc. These folks have local chapters, riding clubs and everything. Now it might be very tempting to poke fun at this mostly well-fed and "dentally challenged" group but hey at least they have an engine and a nice ride. We are the freaks doing the touring using bicycles so what does that make us? Actually it was really kind of cool to see literally thousands of these very well cared for bikes on closed off streets downtown.
The other major highlight of days off is mail call. I was a lucky camper and got TWO (thats right count 'em) TWO care packages from Michelle (a lovely little card, replacement camera, book, and some COOKIES) and Mom (lots and lots of sugar treats and a water pistol). So everyone here at camp BigRide was comparing packages and sharing cookies. Needless to say we will all be riding at 30mph tomorrow.
The rest of the day was spent wandering downtown and writing postcards. Right now I'm in my tent listening to the bombs bursting in air all around me. I hope everyone has a great 4th of July. I bought a flag to hang on the bike and tomorrow night there is a rumor that there might be a real live Rodeo in Hardin MT. Yee Ha!



Its those wild wacks WingDingers!


Gaurding the bike


Where is everyone?


Yo! We staked out our claim in the back between transformers and trash bins. We called it the Getto. I'm jus' keepin' it real ya'll.


Monkey BOY


With his sidekick TOUNGUE GIRL. My Lord Mary, Put that thing away.


I told you my hood was tough. He's packin heat.





4-Jul-00 Billings to Hardin
Dairy Queen, Fireworks, and a Rodeo

Billings MT to Hardin MT
57.8 miles
13.1 avg
Happy 4th of July!
What a great day. This is what a short day is all about. Leave Camp around 7:30, goof off and stop and take pictures and socialize at every opportunity and still make it to camp by 1pm. That gave me plenty of time to enjoy the 4th at Hardin Montana. I attended my first every Rodeo. What a fun time. This was a 'Ranch' rodeo meaning there are no professionals and is mostly made up of local kids under 16 trying to chase pigs and tie goats and all kinds of crazy 'Redneck Fun' as Kelly another rider put it. (A little too loudly when surrounded by tough looking rancher types!) The best thing was the 'Wild Heifer' chase where 4 teams of grown men try to catch 4 cows, pin a ribbon to the tail, and make the cow stand in a circle. People were being dragged around all over. It was great. You could tell that many families were having a great time supporting each other in different events.
The ride leaving Billings was up and up and up through a very scenic canyon with stunning views of the city. Once we climbed out it was more Montana rolling hills of sagebrush and ranches. The absence of any headwind and smooth construction and traffic free roads made today's ride a dream. After dinner several of us made a run for the DQ in town. (If you try real hard I'll bet you can guess who was first in line :) Tonight we are being treated to the Hardin fireworks show which I can see right out the door of my tent.
Tomorrow we get back into higher mileage with an 87 mile day that will take us past Little Big Horn and into Wyoming. After that we have the longest day of the trip at 114 miles. So its so long to Montana.
Hope everyone had a great holiday.



Happy Independance Day


Oh wise one. Tell us the true meaning of Dairy Queen.


This is supposed to mean 1,000 miles.

See the trunk behind us? There was a woman there with her boys handing out water. Her husband rode this last year and this is the exact 1,000 mile mark. Damn nice of her don't you think?


Carrie on a cell phone


Come on boys catch that cow!


Rodeo's are cool.


5-Jul-00 Hardin to Sheridan, WY
Clay Plays Foosball. Crushes All Who Dare Play.

Hardin MT to Sheridan WY
88.2 miles
12.5 avg
Well Tommy you will be glad to hear that after 11 days and 500 miles we have FINALLY left Montana. Helllooooo Wyoming. From Hardin we went south directly though the Crow Indian Reservation. Made the obligitory stop at the museum for Custards Last Stand.
Today was an excellent biking day. I felt like the Pied Piper because everyone wanted to tag behind The man with the music! Thanks to the Romanos for the christmas gift of the speakers. They work really well and having the radio and/or tapes to listen to make a world of difference.
There were just many great things about todays ride that I could go into. Crossing a state line is always a fun thing. We also had pretty good weather and roads. It was very hot in the afternoon with the winds starting to pick up. That seems to be the pattern, much hotter and windier the longer the afternoon rolls on. For the past few days the winds seem to be more against us than for us making the last 10-20 miles usually the toughest.
The highlight of the day was shortly after entering Wyoming. There was a little local Indian bar that seemed like a great chance to grab a coke. Well right in the middle of the place is a very well maintained Tornado Foosball Table!! ALL RIGHT BABY! I have been hoping we would wander into a table somewhere. So I was so excited to see the table that a shouted for all to hear "I'll buy a drink for anyone that can beat me in foosball!" So several cyclist wandered over and were quickly shellacked. Finally Dave Nebela (big ride photo dude) steps up and is pretty good. We are having a grand time but decide if we don't get going soon we might have to be sagged in. When we are getting ready to leave the bartenders come over slap in some quarters and want to play. Those two had obviously played before so we went down 3-1 (1st to 5 wins) right away. Well I'll have none of THAT! I kick it up a gear and we proceed to beat them in two straight games. The bartender cried uncle saying 'I just hate to get schooled like that'. Ahh sweet victory. Now lets get the hell out of here before our welcome is worn out. It was actually very fun and everyone had a good time.
And Chris, just for you my first shot was a beauty of a hack. You would have been proud.
Everyone around here is very anxious about tomorrows 114 mile day. The longest and toughest probably of the trip. Therefore I'm keeping it short to try and get some extra sleep.



A friendly reservation watering hole.


And it has FOOSBALL! Woo Hoo!


Robs Harley Bike


Sleeping support staff


Clay on a rock.


Welcome to Wyoming!


6-Jul-00 Sheridan to Gillette

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7-Jul-00 Gillette to Newcastle
The Need for Speed

76 miles
15.5 avg
Today's riding was like a job. My job for today was to get into camp before the heat and the wind become really angry. I was told by a native that WY is the windiest state and I believe him. So I once again got an early start and it paid off well. Once warmed up it was great to just hammer hard to get the miles behind me. Actually at points it was kind of fun. My riding partner for the day was Adam (from Maryland! He even goes to U of MD) and we would play games like trying to chase down people in front of us or trying to make sure the speedy people behind us couldn't catch up (they did though) and at one point I was crazy enough to try and pace with a Train that was going parallel to the road. The train was only going about 20mph so it was feasible but the crazy part was we were riding into a headwind at that point that was around 12mph.
So I made it to camp about 1230 which was a completely new experience for me. I was meeting people at rest stops that I haven't met for the whole tour. They are the early/super-fast group. One very cool thing is I'm starting to get comments from people like, "Dude, you really haul ass on that bike. I always thought recumbent riders were way slow." That is great to hear. It makes up for the first week or so when I was just sucking wind all the time. Who needs to train anyway?
So there was nothing of any interest on the route today. Vast rolling Wyoming waste land. We actually came within 30 miles of Devils Tower but it was off the route to far to go see. Guess I'll catch that on next years ride eh Dorothy? The best part is the bar in town with several large screen TV's, tour de france coverage in about 20 minutes, and half price drinks. Lots of us are heading down there after dinner for relax. Now THIS is what I wanted to do on the ride.
Tomorrow is going to be great. Tough but great. We go through the black hills then turn north towards Rapid City. My plan for tomorrow is to take my time and take lots of pictures.
Have a good one everyone! And Thanks for the emails. Its great to hear from you.



The Wyoming sky is amazing.


Adam and I doing a "play ground rodeo"


8-Jul-00 Newcastle to Rapid City, SD
The Amazing Black Hills

83.3 miles
13.4 avg
'Thar is gold in them thar Black Hills'
Today was probably one of the best cycling days I have ever had. I was fairly pumped because my new friend Jeff (from Seattle) who did the ride last year told me ahead of time that today would be nice. My plan for today was just the opposite of yesterday because I planned on stopping at every opportunity. We left Newcastle and climbed climbed climbed passing into state number 5 and then the Black Hills. At the 22 miles mark we had cranked up about 1200ft and had to wait for a Big Ride van to block the traffic because the next 7 miles were winding twisting rolling downhill's through the forest with no shoulder. Then we started to approach the town of Custer which is just loaded with tourist traps. Of course I fell victim to one of them and took a tour of the 'National Woodcarving Museum'. It was cute but I wouldn't list it as a must see. One stop in town that was a must was the DQ. A mile down the road from the DQ was the checkpoint so I came rolling in on my bike with a Blizzard. Ahh life is good. So most of us were hanging around the town of Custer saying that what we had biked through was nice but not all that big of a deal. We figured this area is so desolate that any old forest qualifies as a natural wonder. Well once back on the road we REALLY went through the good part. The next 25 miles were absolutely gorgeous. Twisting fast down hills with great climbs through a canopy of lush evergreen forest. There were multicolored rock formations nestled in the trees and clear running streams for us to stop and soak our feet. The road just seemed to go forever. Words cant describe the beauty of the surroundings and thrill of whipping around turns sometimes going faster than the local traffic. In this case I mean something special when I say local traffic. When I came around one turn all cars and cyclists had come to a stop because there was a herd of at least 150-200 Bison blocking the road. It was amazing. Riders were snapping pictures and riding alongside these huge majestic animals. At one point a large bull was standing right in front of a car facing uphill. The car was tooting his horn to no avail. I biked up to get a closer look. Once I got face to face with the mammoth bull thinking I would get a great picture I noticed the animal seemed to be staring me down. It was then I realized I was wearing a red handkerchief around my neck! (hey I've seen the bugs bunny cartoons) Somebody told me they are colorblind but I didn't like the way that big fella was checking me out and decided to move along. For the rest of the day many riders were still talking about being caught in the herd. We were all just cycling along loving every second. What a welcome reprieve from straight stark farm and grassland.

With 30 miles and 2 water stops left before town we turned north towards Rapid City and the wind started to brew and blew south. A large storm was working its way south directly towards us. At the next water stop I encouraged Brian and Kelly my cycling pals to hang out to see what the storm did. Sure enough it got faily windy and even shot some lighting but seemed to blow right over us. With the sky still overcast (protecting us from the heat) and the winds dying down a little we decided to move along. We were flying towards town and rode right by the last water stop thinking we didn't need it until the crew yelled the magic words, "WATERMELON!" Of course we spun around and grabbed yet another chance to hang out and spit seeds. Ahhh Summer. I even got to show some crew members a trick or two on the yo-yo.
Upon arriving to town we are greeted with a rather cruddy campsite. There was some miscommunication and we had to camp in a distant remote section of the fairgrounds right next to a highway.
The camp really didn't dampen anyone's spirits because after dinner and cleanup many riders took cabs downtown where a BigRider Chad who is from Rapid City talked his friend who owns the Firehouse Brewing company into giving every BigRider a drink on the house. What a perfect ending to a perfect day. Everyone seemed ready to relax, have a few (or a few too many for some :) microbrews and swap funny stories of biking mayhem.
So tomorrow I finally get to see Mt Rushmore. Our day off in Rapid City will be spent riding around doing the tourist thing. (riding in a bus! ahh luxury) Many riders were surprised with visits from parents and relatives and are staying in hotels. I'm looking forward to a day of picture taking and postcard writing.


State number 5.


Traffic Jam blackhills style.


Flying downhill.


Rob and the Harley Bike


This big guy isn't going to move.


Of course I have to as close as possible.


They were around 80 in the herd.


Speedy downhills


Pupput Museum. Big waste.


We took over the diner and cleaned out all the Pie!


Kelly's parents pay her a visit.



9-Jul-00 Day off in Rapid City
Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse

Day off in Rapid City
Today was spent in a wonderful invention called a 'Bus'. Its great. There is no pedaling required. Pretty much the entire day was divided between Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and Laundry. (The third one is not a monument :)
Rushmore was great. They have a new large museum and visitor center that was actually very interesting in detailing what each president contribution to the country was and to the building of the monument itself. Crazy Horse was impressive as well. What an amazing accomplishment even if it still isn't finished. The people in the U.S. can sure be bold when they want to be. Can you imagine looking at a giant mountain of granite and saying "I think I'll just spend the next 50 years blowing away rock to look like Crazy Horse". Makes you wonder if Korczak wasn't the Crazy one. But if there is anything this trip makes you realize is that if you have a huge goal you can get there by taking it in little bite sized chunks.
I'm really impressed with this entire Black Hills area and would love to come back sometime and stay longer. There are so many other wonderful areas that deserved to be checked out that we just didn't have time for. I found out today that there is a 114 miles Rails-to-Trail that goes right through the black hills. Now you KNOW I gotta come back and do that!
Tomorrow is another long day (104 miles) but about half of it is through the Badlands National Park so I am looking forward to it.



10-Jul-00 Rapid City to Kadoka

Rapid City SD to Kadoka SD
107.6 miles
13.3 avg
I'll try and keep this short because I have had a very long day. Left camp about 7am and finally got in close to 8pm.
Today we cycled through the Badlands of South Dakota. If you have never had the chance to see the Badlands I would highly recommend a visit. It truly felt as though I was riding through another planet. The Badlands are layers of soft sedementary rock that have been pushed up with the rockies. Erosion then formes breathtaking canyons and deep gulleys and exposed many layers of multicolored rock. It is quite different than a canyon or a normal mountain range. Todays ride was just spectacular because of the Badlands section. I took something like 40 pictures today. I hope they come out. It was also very long. Notonly are we back to our old tricks of over 100 miles but we were fighting a steady headwind for about two thirds of the ride. IT was raining when I left camp this morning but tht sooned stopped and I spent the rest of the day very luckily dodging a storm that was chasing us from the west pretty much all day. The Weather out here is quite unpredictable with storms popping up out of nowhere and dumping enormous amounts of rain in localized spots. I have been very lucky thus far to not hve been hammered with rain.
Highpoints for today besides the Badlands were...
Meeting a group of riders heading to Seattle from the east coast ridin for Habitat for Humanities. They told us abuot racking up something called 'Naked Miles' Hmmm I'll let you figue that one out.
Got to ride Robbie's Harley bike for the last few miles into town. Way Cool.
Extremly tired now. There is much more to tell, just dont have the energy to say it.



11-Jul-00 Kadoka to Pierre

Rapid City SD to Pierre SD
96.4 miles
14.6 avg
You know how I say every day how great the ride was and how everything is just grand? Well here is a change of pace. Todays ride sucked! It was so bad that even Katie our sweet water stop helper was saying how she had heard so many interesting variations of the word 'Sucked'. As in 'Man the road SUCKS!' or the ever popular 'Whats up with this road? It ssSucks!' Everything was fine up until checkpoint at 33 miles. We were getting a nice little tailwind and everyone was loving life tooling along at 25mpg+. Then we made a turn directly north losing our tailwind. The road we turned onto was ground down with one of those machines that leaves nothing but tiny little ruts everywhere. There was no escaping it. Both sides were planed down and the shoulders were pitted and worthless. Also the terrain all day was long rolling hills. The kind of hill that takes a few miles to reach the top and then sometimes doesn't come back down for a mile or two. So we had this terrible road surface and a building wind nailing us from the left as we went north. This would not have been a big deal except that it went on for 22 MILES! Oh MY GOD! I was getting beat to death. A 20" tire at 100lbs doesn't absorb much of anything. Lots of people were bailing to the SAG wagons. So the only thing keeping me going is hearing from others that once we turn back east we are going to have this killer tailwind that will push us on home. So FINALLY I make it to the turn and we indeed have a tailwind, for a little while. After about 2 miles the wind (which was by now a solid 15 gusting to 25) decides to turn as well and is coming from the north. So I'm back to fighting crosswinds all afternoon that were litereraly kocking me sideways off the road.
The saving grace of the day is the wonderful campground in Pierre SD that is right on the Missori river. Right noe I'm looking out the front of my tent into the riverfront. It was great to take a plunge when I got into camp.
The quote of the day was at the last reststop when riders were discussing stretching techniques. I said "What I need is something that will stretch my ass back to camp!" That broke us up.
P.S. sorry for the delay. its been a tough couple of days and was having trouble with email.



12-Jul-00 Pierre to Miller

Pierre SD to Miller SD
74 miles
15.5 avg
Ok happy Clay is back. All is again right with the world. Today was just superb. Not much scenery. On the left we had Sunflowers (not blooming, bummer) and on the right was wheat. The nice thing was the road was mostly smooth as silk and we had a gentle a tailwind almost all day. Heat was a bit of a factor because it did top 103, but I just kept drinking and pedaling. In addition todays milage was less ambitios which means I got to camp in lovely Miller SD with enough time to take a dip in the local pool before dinner. Sandy 'The Sandman' Hider tells me that I better get used to flat lands because that is what SD is all about. Well I think we are now officially hitting the plains. Our course today was due east with only one small climb out of Pierre.
Today we crossed another MAJOR milestone, the HALF-WAY POINT. About 4 miles outside of town it was exactly 1625 miles to Seattle and 1625 to D.C. My odometer reads 1677 but close enough. Its kind of amazing when you really stop and think about how far we have come and how far we still have to go. Sometimes I forget about the big picture. To me its lust like I'm doing a series of rides one day after another and its easy to forget that we are linking them together to cross this huge country. Its sometimes all I can think about to get the next 20 miles to the water stop.
I have some bad news to report. Three riders were in a serious accident today and had to be taken to the hospital. Sherri, Lana, and 'Chicago' Mary were riding together when Mary was struck by the mirror of a passing RV of some type. She was then knocked into the others sending everyone down. Lana seems simply banged up some, Sherri has a badly scraped arm, but Mary is going to have surgery tomorrow on her hip which was broken in the wreck. Details are still scetchy. They are all three staying in the hospital tonight and Lana and Sherri will join us tomorrow riding in the van of course. Things can happen quickly if your not paying attention. Gotta keep checking that mirror and see what is coming. I'll let you know more when I find out. Lana and Sherri were allowed to join us for dinner as long as they stay in wheelchairs. (hospital rules) It was really touching to see the outpouring of emotion from other riders. Even though everyone has only known each other for a few weeks we have shared so much that everyone really cares about the everyone else.
The town of Miller had really rolled out the red carpet. Tonight we are having a catered dinner by a local restaurant and afterwards live jazz. Ahh this is the life.
P.S. During the concert many from the town turned out. It is really nice how interested the locals are in us riders. ALthough I get the feeling like I'm some animal on a drive through safari. People are circling the park with camcorders and walking up to riders saying things like, "Do you really sleep in that?" Its really kind of funny.



13-Jul-00 Miller to DeSmet

Miller SD to DeSmet SD
80.5 miles
14.1 avg (would have been higher. Its Daves fault :)
"The Little Camp on the Prairie"
I don't know what got into me this morning but I was up at 4:30 and waiting in line for breakfast at 5:20. My plan was to get out early and beat the Heat predicted to be the high 90s. Well everything was going according to plan until the Check Point (halfway). I didn't see the turn and just blew right on by. So I was at mile 54 of 80 by 1030 or so in the lovely spit of a town called Cavour. There was even a nice little tailwind. I was on track to make it into camp in record time when I went into 'goof off' mode. I sat in the little store in town munching on some fruit talking to riders and some locals. Then 7 miles up the road was the water stop with watermelon. Well thats a good 45min there. Then 3 miles down from that was nice little cafe listed in our 'Tour De Pie' sheet written up by a Dakota native and rider. Basically he prepared for us the best pie stops in South Dakota. Well heck by now its time for lunch so there goes another couple hours sampling pie. Hmmmmm. For those of you checking out the GORP page see if there is a picture of a table of pie eaters. If so I took that picture. The poor folks at this little cafe were a little stressed trying to feed all these hungry bikers. Circulating camp is a great way to describe us. BigRiders are like a swarm of locusts that sweep into a town, devour everything in sight and quickly move on. That pretty much describes us to a T.
After pie I briefly lost my sanity and offered to switch bikes with Dave, who has been dying to try out the laid back music machine, for the last 15 miles. He had a great time but my tush is still recovering from his Cannondale.
Once I finally made it to camp I realized that I wandered in the same time I always do! Why bother to get up early! Another recumbent rider 'Buzz' was laughing recalling that he saw me take off this morning and couldn't catch me but knew he would beat me to camp when he saw my bike at the cafe. :)
DeSmet, as Cheryl will tell you, Is home to Laura Ingalls Wilder who wrote the 'Little House' books. This place is crazy about 'Little House'. There is a Ingalls lane, Laura Lane, Carrie AV, etc etc. Once again we seem to be the main attraction as local good ol boys keep riding by camp whistling and yelling others winners like, 'Wake Up!' or 'You Stole our Park' or my personal favorite shouted to Marta, 'Git up an Dance!' Ahh, small town America. Thank God for earplugs.
Update on the riders involved in the accident. Lana and Sherri are going to be fine and will probably start riding soon depending on how they feel. They are staying on with us for the duration. Thankfully Mary did not need surgery on her hip which was fractured in several places around the 'socket'. She can't be moved at all for a few days and recovery will be painfull but she wilvvl be OK. Once she can travel again she will be heading home.
Till tomorrow,



14-Jul-00 DeSmet to Tyler, MN

DeSmet SD to Tyler MN
86.1 miles
14.0 avg
Goodbye South Dakota hello Minnesota. We crossed into state #6 today. Yah, you betcha. No interesting scenery today. No major hills, no turns. Actually I take that back there were two turns, a right out of camp, and a left into camp. It was actually a fairly ordinary ride. My goal for today was to not arrive in camp before 5pm because there were lots of distrations and servicces in Brookings SD. I beat my goal by almost 2 hours. It was really nice to talk to a few of you guys at home and work. I'm glad to hear that the world is still turning without me. :) And if any of you are interested I would be glad to take more vacations and send emails from the road from now on! I could just become a roving gypsy reporting on small town america. Speaking of which South Dakota is a really great state. The people have been very friendly and the scenery in the western part of the state was wonderful. The last town we went through in SD gave us a great sendoff with fresh fruit, donuts and pie. They were even broadcasting live from a bike shop in Brookings SD on the radio and interviewing people from the ride. How cool is that! I basically took advantage of every oppourtunity to stop and hang out today.
The one pretty interesting thing on the route today was when we went by Lake Benton in Minnesota. That is the home to the largest wind powered electric generation project in the world. There are 143 of these HUGE turbines all over the area. Each turbine is about 120ft tall and made up of three blades. Each blade is 76ft long! There were three of the blades sitting in front of the office. Very impressive. The project generates 107 megawatts of power. When you think about it, you know you are in trouble as a cyclist when they are harnessing the WIND for power. The wind blew steady from the southeast all day. It was more headwinds and crosswinds. I'm actually getting used to having to fight headwinds all day.
To give you an update on the incident the other day. The driver of the RV did stop after the accident but I don't know if any charges have or will be filed. Lana and Sherri are going to work waterstops for a week or so and then keep on riding. Mary was able to stand today even though it was very painful. This is good because the sooner she can move around the sooner she can head home.
Thats it for today. The buss around camp is everyone is excited to head for New Ulm for a day off and a local Octoberfest celebration. Sound fun!


15-Jul-00 Tyler to New Ulm

Tyler MN to New Ulm MN
90 miles
16.8 avg
Today I had a specific mission. Make sure that at noon I'm somewhere with a TV so I can finally watch a stage of the tour de france and eat pizza. I have been craving pizza for a week. Everything worked out great. Brian and Kelly were completly on board for this plan so we didn't waste much time at waterstops until we arrived at lovely Sprinfield MN (mile 60) at the K.C. sports bar. They had it all: plenty of cold Mt Dew, big screen TV to watch Lance do his thing, and pizza. Of course today we again had headwinds for most of the day. Its not even a question anymore of IF we will have them, its just how bad and for how long. So after a nice long break we cranked out the rest of the day in a paceline. Pacelines are truly an amazing thing. For you non cycling people a paceline is when two or more people ride one right behind the other. The person on the front works the hardest pushing through the wind and those behind can 'draft' off the rider in front of them. Riders then take turns 'pulling' the line. We had 5 people and it really made the miles fly by. We could maintian a 19-20mph pace as a group comfortably whereas on my own I could probably only have gone 14 in that wind. If you check the GORP page there might be a picture of us going by taken from above by 'Sneaky' Dave perched on top of a trestle.



16-Jul-00 Day off in New Ulm

We are staying in New Ulm MN for our rest day. This was a long stretch of 6 days without a break so everyone is ready for a break.
Last nights entertainment was the New Ulm Heritagefest. New Ulm is a classic German town with its own old time brewery cranking out 'Schell' beer. The fest was great fun with lots of Bratwurst, Beer, and Polka dancing. Although I didn't take part personally I have heard rumours around camp that 79yr old Phil was just cutting up the dance floor last night. Hopefully someone will have photos to share. Believe it or not I also heard a few "Ya, you betchas" last night. Welcome to the plain states! Another highlight yesterday was the cute town of Tracy MN with its 'Wheels across the Prairie' museum. Don't worry Tracy I got a picture for you. :)
The agenda for the sunday is to rest the legs, do the laundry, watch the tour somewhere, and maybe catch the X-men movie. Life is tough on the road.
P.S. All of camp would like to extend its thanks to Michelle for sending me some new coolmax shirts. We are planning on having a ceremony to burn the nasty white one I have been wearing. THANKS HONEY



17-Jul-00 New Ulm to Owatanna

New Ulm MN to Owatanna MN
78 miles
16.8 avg

The weather gods are again smiling upon the BigRide. Little humidity, high of 74 and a constant tailwind made today the PERFECT day to really haul and make it into camp early. Of course I had no intention of doing that. I knew it would be a long day when I woke to what I thought was the first major earthquake in Minnesota but actually turned out to be Brian and Kelly violently shaking my tent because I had shown no signs of life by 7am. I think last night was the first time on the tour that I actually slept more than 6 hours. I finally got rolling just after 8. With the flat land and tailwind I was moving right along and on track to really make decent time when I hooked up with TLP (Team Last Place) and found out just why they are called that. At checkpoint was a mall and they invited me to join them to see a movie. Well why not I'm on vacation! So we proceed to take our bikes right in the mall and John from Colorado talks the manager into letting us in for free! So about 12 riders go to the theater with their bikes and ALL. Bill (Chicago) was even riding his bike up the isles. After the flik (gone in 60 secs) we got some great shots of everyone in the theater with bikes and all. We then rode our bikes right through the mall, did some shopping, ate some lunch and got back on the road. Nothing better than a 3 hour break before the last 40 miles. The fun wasn't over yet. We blew another hour at the DQ down the road. Then TLP really lived up to its name and went swimming. I passed on the swimming thing because there is only so much goofing off I can do before I feel the need to head for camp. What a fun group!



18-Jul-00 Owatanna to Wynona

Owatonna MN to Winona MN
92.2 miles
15.5 avg
Today I was punished for the good time yesterday. Actually all the riders had to pay the price for our day of tailwinds and had to face direct headwinds of 10mpg directly from camp. Headwinds wasn't the real problem because believe it or not I'm actually getting used to fighting headwinds for long periods at a time. The crazy thing today was how incredibly COLD it was. The temp in camp this morning was 45 and with the wind it felt in the 30s. The funny thing is most riders, myself included, shipped all cold weather gear home at the last rest day. I was hoping the clouds would burn off as the day went on but it stayed overcast and cold all day. At 12pm in the town of Rochester MN it was 61 and by 2pm it was back down to 57 and had started to rain. The radio said it was the coldest July 18th on record in Minnesota. So for the last 15 miles we had a first for the BigRide and rode in the rain. (Its really amazing we have made it this far without any serious rain.) Everyone (riding in the group I was in) was in the same boat with the double whammy of being cold and wet.
The day was not without its good points though. We crossed another milestone of the 2000 mile mark. Wow. We are just cranking through the miles on this trip. Another observation was that todays ride was almost the exact opposite of yesterdays joy ride. Today it was all about the ride. There was no real interesting scenery and the general misery of everyone made today the time to just ride. What started out as 3-4 of us pacing off each other had grown to a group of 12 by the end of the day. We were each taking turns pulling the group and at times really acted well as a team. Its become obvious how much stronger everyone on the ride has become. I guess riding 6 hours a day for 4 weeks will do that to you.
The Luck of the 2000 BigRide is still holding though because today just happened to be the only regular night that we are staying in dorm. We are in the Winona State University and it is SOOOOOOO nice not to have to set up a tent in cold wet weather.
Tomorrows highlights are crossing the Mighty Mississippi and passing into the state of Wisconsin. Leaving the west far behind and heading through the mid-west towards another Mountain range and home. I'll be back before You know it.
As a update Lana was back on the bike for a half day today and did very well. Mary is back home with her folks in WI recovering and reading this email (HI MARY!) And Sherri is feeling better every day. The BigRide rolls on.


2000 Miles!



19-Jul-00  Wynona to Viroqua, WI

67.8 miles
14.8 avg
Today was a perfect day. It started off chilly but at least it was dry. We had a rather short day of 65.8 miles to do. We have sort of formed an informal group of myself, Brian, Kelly, Howard, Jonathan, and Betty Jean which grown and shrinks during the ride. We started out together and left Winona following the Mighty Mississip gently climbing and falling back towards the river. Then we passed two milestones in one. Crossing the Mississippi and rolling into Wisconsin. For me personally everything just got better once we left Minnesota which wasn't not high on my favorite states list for the ride. (I swear Minnesota is Sioux for Many Skeeters)
We crossed the river into the town of LaCross and could not pass up a cafe called 'The Hungry Pedeller' where we warmed up with coffee and got some lunch. A few miles later at the checkpoint I heard the story of Andrew. Andrew is a very nice, funny, and sort of mile-mannered kind of guy. Well it turns out that on the MN side of the bridge to WI he stripped down to nothing but shoes and helmet, rode across the river in the buff and then put them back on. Everyone was in shock. We even hoisted him up for a picture when he showed up. Is that cool or what.
The real fun part of the ride came about 10 miles later when we started to climb out of the Mississippi Valley. This section of WI was the only part not covered by glaciers during the iceage and therefore it is very hilly. We even had a 1.5 miles climb that was worthy of anything in PA or western MD. IT was so much fun to feel strong enough to power up these climbs and then swoop down winding twisting turns. We even wandered our way into Amish country where one family was hosting a bake sale with $.25 cookies. It was really something to be riding by all these farms with hay that had been tied in bushells by hand and seeing horse drawn equipment drudging through the fields.
The final adventure was at the last waterstop which was right next to a lake. A couple of local buys drove up and headed for the woods with towels. I asked them if they were going swimming and sure enough they were and there was a great rope swing into the water. Well Brian and I were all over that. No other riders seemed interested at first but after a few 'Woo Hoo.... SPLASH' from Brian and I we were soon joined by 20 other BigRiders. We all took turns climbing up the rock, swinging way out over the water, and plunging about 15ft. It was really great. After taking a picture with our local rope guides Luke and Dustin we headed for home. Dave 'Photo-Man' Nevala came as well so there should be some great pictures somewhere. The only downer was Mary from Boston smacked her foot on a rock and broke her small toe. The Doc gave her the OK to try and ride in the morning so we shall see.
We have a long tough day tomorrow so everyone is anxious to get up and out early. We are doing 108 miles with at least the first 30 or so in steep rolling hills like this afternoon. There is also a stop at Taliasion (sp) east that I must check out. So I really need to hit the sack.
P.S. Go Lance Go! Those guys were going 41mph through town. AWESOME!



20-Jul-00 Viroqua to Madison

Viroqua WI to Madison WI
112.1 miles
14.8 avg speed
Todays ride is dedicated to ME because it is my Birthday! And as a present to myself I biked a century and some change with a few killer climbs thrown in. :) Thanks to everyone for all the B-day wishes. I really had a fantastic day. Only a few people knew it was my b-day until just after the 95 mile mark when the route marking crew spray painted on the road half way up a killer climb the words "Happy Birthday Recumbent Clay" That was just sooo cool. After that the word was out. Everyone was so nice to me. When we rolled into our dorm at the U of WI @ Madison I had two packages and a bunch of B-day cards. THANK YOU! What could be better after a long day on the bike then to have a Ms. Fields gigantic Brownie with the words "Almost Home Clay" in icing. After dinner a whole collection of riders took me to the Angelic Brewing Company to celebrate. We drank beers and devoured the brownie and had a wonderful time doing it.
The riding today was really nice. The first 40 miles were steep rollers like yesterday. Brian pulled us into stopping at a Dairy farm where they were washing the cows to take pictures for a Sperm Catalog! Actually they call it a Sire Directory. It was great. They had these 2 yr cows all shined up for the catalog to show off what good stock they came from. We discovered that things like 'udder width' and 'hoof strength' are very important traits for a cow. Sadly my camera was on the fritz or I would have gotten some REAL cow-cam pictures. A worker was also very excited to have all these riders stopping by and gave us the full tour of the milking operation. Got Milk? He really wanted to get across how well they treated the animals (he knows each by name) and how important the farm was to him. Its really great to see locals out there doing what they love.
After a quick coffee and doughnut break, which I got free by the way, Howard and I kicked butt (or so we thought) and rode a tailwind to the Taliason East and the Frank Lloyd Wright center. Kelly, Brian, and the gang pulled up no more than 5 minutes behind us. So much for kicking butt. :) We bailed on the tour because it was too long and expensive. Its tough to carve out 2 hours when you still have 50 miles left. The rest of the day was more farmland, mostly flat good roads, small towns, and finally rolling hills into downtown Madison.
All in all, it was probably one of the best Birthdays. After a day off in Madison we head back out. The states are going to go by much more quickly now and everyone is starting to sense the end is near. But there is still a long way and lots of hills to climb. Bring it on!



21-Jul-00 Day off in Madison

The day off in Madison was great. Not long enough. I could have stayed a few more days. Madison is a very cool, jumping college town with lots to do and see. My big adventure there was being talked into going out for Sushi which was a first for me. Why Not! It was actually good. I would have it again. Nothing like a little raw fish before a big ride.



Burritos as big as YOUR HEAD



22-Jul-00 "Madison to Belvidere, IL"

Madison WI to Belvidere IL
81 miles
?? avg speed
Todays riding conditions were ideal. Temps no higher than 80 and little wind and/or tailwinds most of the day. Getting started was tough. When you sleep in a tent its not to hard to get up and bike because you can hear everyone around you, and frankly tents aren't someplace to hang out. But when we sleep in a dorm its very hard to get up and get moving. I also noticed that my front tire had a huge slice in it so I had to put on my backup tire. I guess 2200 miles is about all it could handle. Since I was so late in getting started (which is actually funny because I still got on the road by 8am but that is quite late for BigRiders) my normal cycling buds abandoned me and I rode for quite awhile with 'Harley Bike' Robbie and his clan. What a hoot. THey barely break 12mpg but boy do they have fun doing it. I got pictures of Robbie and John doing bike acrobatics, Climbing on tanks in town, and doing handstands on a kids skateboard that was offering us lemonade. If you read the GORP page it will tell you that Robbie is a bit of a introvert. What a load of crap. He is a total ham who was yelling at every roadkill that we passed, "WAKE UP! Your going to get Run OVER!"
The rest of the day alternated between cycling bliss of smooth pavement and gracious farmland to bumpy pitted concrete slabs in busy towns. One really nice thing is that we are now riding through towns every 8-10 miles and some of them have been just wonderful with tree lined streets and historic homes and 'Pleasantville' like downtowns.



23-Jul-00 Belvidere to Naperville

Belvidere IL to Naperville IL
64.3 miles
14.7 avg
Today we made the abrupt transition from serene farmland to the stripmall suburbia of the Chicago area. It seemed familiar to me because this is what I'm used to in our area. The ride was mostly fairly easy except for some tough headwinds for the last 20 miles or so. Today the 'Chain of Hope' was to be pulled by Sherri who is from this area. This is not the Sherri who was hurt. The Chain of Hope is a Burley trailer with a list of thousands of names of people whose lives have been touched by lung disease. Every day a different rider or groups of riders can volunteer to pull the trailer. Sherri designated today to be the 'Girly Burly' which meant that she wanted all the guys to wear dresses and ride in drag. I'm going to let it be a surprize for you and not tell you if I did it or not.
I had a special treat today of a home cooked meal! Kelly's friends Katie and Rick who live very close were kind enough to take in four of us for dinner. We actually ate on real plates and used metal silverware and everything! Brian and I were in complete heaven sitting in their living room sipping beer and watching the final or the Tour De France. (Yay LANCE!) And Yay to our hosts Katie and Rick for a wonderful evening.
The final surprize came when I got back to my dorm room and saw a note from none other than Karl Reuss! He had spent the better part of the day wondering aimlessly around Naperville looking for a group of cyclists. Ask Karl and he will tell you that it is harder then you think.
Well I've got yet another hundred miles to do and thanks to Karl I have to get up in 5 hours to do it!
Until Then...


24-Jul-00 "Naperville to La Porte, IN"

Naperville IL to LaPorte IN
104.5 miles
14.9 avg speed
Well I made it up at 5am and was ready for a long day of traffic and congestion through the suburbs of Illinois. The 'Land of Lincoln' didn't dissapoint because the roads were pretty bad. The terrain was flat but there were potholes and such everywhere. There were quite a few flats and busted spokes today. At about mile 58 we would pass into Indiana and I was about to write off IL roads as a the worst when we turned onto a beautiful rails-to-trail that went on for about 21 miles. That was a wonderful change from the roaring diesel engines and constant banging of the road.
The best part of my long day came at the 'Check Point' where Karl was to meet me. We had consulted earlier and he agreed to get several pizzas. So myself and a everyone lucky enough to time their arrival at checkpoint were greeted to a treat of hot pizza. Then I got another treat and was able to take Karls BMW convertable for a spin. It was great. What the hell was I thinking biking across the country when I could've sat on my butt in a car! Kidding aside it was great to see Karl and it will be great to see all of you when I get back as well. Seeing him made me realize how long I have been away and how much I do miss everyone back home.
So after spending a good 2-3 hours hanging out at checkpoint I didn't finally make it to camp until 6pm. We are staying in the town af LaPorte IN and boy have they gone to a lot of effort to make us feel welcome. They had a pig roast for us with fresh corn and more homemade desserts than I could count. They even had a DJ where people had a great time doing the Hokey Pokey and turning themselves around. I'm actually too beat to partake of the madness. I'm perfectly content to sit in my darkened tent and and tap out an email to my pals back home.
Take Care everyone.
P.S. Kathy, where the heck is that Baby! Are you going to wait until I get back to have it?!
P.P.S. There might be a problem with my pocketmail account so I may not be able to recieve messages. I you tried to send me something and there was a problem that is why.


25-Jul-00 La Porte to Kendallville

LaPorte IN to Kendalville IN
90.2 miles
15.9 avg speed
Today we thankfully re-entered farm country. I can sum up todays ride in two words, Corn and Soybeans. It was nice to get back away from major development where we were continually fighting traffic and beat up roads. There are several riders who joined us for the last two weeks in Madison and one in particular (Shannon from Fairfax) has been riding with us the past few days. We have all been having a great time breaking him in. Today we were running a paceline at about 18mph and everytime he would work his way up to the front he would feel this immense pressure to go as fast as he could since he would look back and see that we were mostly coasting. We were all giving the poor guy grief. 'Get a move on Rookie!' :)
We were also joined about halfway in by Mike B. from Colorado. Mike is 50ish and is one of the faster guys on the ride. He decided to slow down a little to hang out with the 'Middle' group. So Mikes mode of operation is to ride hard until the last 20 miles and then slow down and stop at every town and have a beer (which he calls local anesthetic) and some lunch and talk to the locals. Well when biking with Romans..
The next town was a really sweet mostly Amish town called Topeka. The horse drawn buggys outnumbered cars by about 2-1.
(Side Note. Snannon told a funny story how he passed a Amish farmhouse where there were 4 little girls outside waving at cyclists. Well he decided to stop and say hello and as soon as he did they took off for the house. Then they returned this time with the entire extended family, just the women since the men were at a auction in Topeka, and chatted with him for awhile.)
Mike was a little concerned that it was a dry town but sure enough we found a little dive bar in town. Another 15 miles down the road in Wolcotsville was the 'Twin Six' grill where the owner is a personal friend of Bobby Knight. We asked if we had to strangle anyone to get some lunch. :)
When I got to camp I discovered the disadvantage of my easily recognized bike is that EVERYONE knew where I was and knew exactly what we were up to. Hmmm I'll have to be more discrete in the future.
Tomorrow we cross into the eastern time zone and the Lovely state of Ohio. We are getting closer now! 3 more days until Ceder Points rollercoasters!
Bike Bike Bike


26-Jul-00 Kendallville to Napoleon, OH

Kendalville IN to Napoleon OH
70.3 miles
15.6 avg
On the BigRide we call anything less than 90 miles a short day. I was feeling very strong today and started out riding very fast and on pace to make it to camp early for a change. 4 miles into the ride I latched on to Mike and Jay who are two of the fastest riders. I think they were just warming up, but still we were doing around 18-20 until I bailed at the first waterstop at 14. There I met up with Kelly, Steve and Rick from Connecticut and the rest of the gang. So much for getting to camp early. We stopped at the first cafe we saw and hung out for awhile. The real fun came later at the Checkpoint in Byron Ohio. We discovered that this little town is home to the Ohio Art company who are the makers of the Etch A' Sketch! Well Brian and I and about 10 others were all over that. We asked directions and headed for the factory. Once we arrived we were dissapointed to find out that they haven't given tours for 5 years and had noone who could help us. Well after a solid 15min of whining John Wrighton a manager at the plant agreed to show us around. Well we got the full tour. Behind a huge red door labled 'Home of the Etch a Sketch' we got to see where they have been making them since 1960. What a treat. There were about a dozen employees, mostly older women one of which has been with the company for 47 years, who were cranking out the original Etch a Sketch mostly by hand. After many hours spent as a kid taking them apart it was awesome to see how they were put together. We got to say hello to the CEO who gave to order to give us each free mini-sketches! Too Sweet! Another large part of the company is a metal lithography business which we also got to see. But nothing could top seeing the Etches being built. On our way out we were cheering and having a good old time but by then another group of cyclist had found the place and was trying to talk themselves in for a tour. Well John said he couldn't do it and they were out of luck. Its all a matter of stumbling into things at the right time. Later at camp I heard that yet

a third group went there and did manage to get a tour. But they had to pay $3 for their souveniers. Still worth it if you ask me.
The rest of the day was spent riding hard and fast and then stopping for quite awhile to just hang out. My excuse for my avg speed not being higher is that I switched bikes with Brian for about 8 miles and he killed my average. Yeah, thats the ticket.
Tomorrow we head for Sandusky where I have reserved a hotel room and am sharing with 3 other riders. I'm getting sick of sleeping in this smelly tent. I'm looking forward to Ceder Point, but I'm also looking forward to PA and Maryland and the finish line. I'm having a great time but I also miss everyone and the real world. See you all soon.


Welcome to OHIO!


Mikie has a boo boo.


27-Jul-00 Napoleon to Sandusky

Napoleon OH to Sandusky OH
86 miles
15.3 avg
Today was more corn corn corn. Not much to talk about scenery wise. Actually it was a fairly uneventful day all around. No crazy tours of toy factorys no tales of bicycle bar hopping, just straight riding. Actually today was really the first time we encountered some serious heat and humidity at the same time. Sandusky is only about 2 miles from Lake Erie so there is plenty of moisture in the air. The temps were in the upper 90s. The heat was sapping many riders energy in the afternoon. For others it was the hangover induced by the late night out in Napoleon singing Karaoke. I wasn't part of THAT little melee. I don't know what it is but BigRiders seem to LOVE Karaoke. I have yet to witness this phenomenom but I hear that 20 riders will take over the bar and sing the night away.
Once at camp most people scattered. I'm actually spoiling myself and staying in a hotel on the day off with 3 other riders. It will be nice to sleep in a real bed for a change. I didn't want to spend my last rest day living out of my musty tent.
The only real highlight of the day was towards the end when I was leading a pace line with Kelly and Howard behind me at about 18mph and this rider named Sonny goes by doing about 21. Sonny is a very fast rider. He is sponsored in triathelons back home. Partly out of boredom and partly because I like to challenge myself I decide to try and latch on to Sonny's wheel thinking I could hang there for awhile. So I take off with the others right behind and as I get closer Sonny can hear me coming because I'm blasting the stereo and when I get about 10ft behind he looks back with a smile and then takes off like a rocket. So I take off in pursuit as fast as I can and reach a speed of 28.5 before finally catching his wheel and settling in at 25mph. Well Kelly and Howard are long gone by now. I'm thinking this is really fast but I've caught him! He turns around, smiles again and at 25 takes off again like he is standing still. I try in vain to keep up but its useless and decide that my new goal is to just keep him in sight until the waterstop about 8 miles away. Well he gets smaller and smaller and is barely a dot on the landscape but I can still see him and I'm doing no less than 22 the whole time! When I finally roll into the waterstop huffing and puffing there sits Sonny with a big grin on his face. He said he reached 30 at one point. That was just so cool. The games riders play to keep interested and make the miles go by. Its a total blast to play cat and mouse with other riders who are faster then yourself. We talk later and Sonny tells me that one of the things he has been trying to improve on this trip is his acceleration. I think he has succeded.


28-Jul-00 Day off in Sandusky

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29-Jul-00 Sandusky to Chagrin Falls

Sandusky OH to Chagrin Falls OH
80 miles
15ish avg speed
The route was really good today following mostly State Route 6 east which hugged the lake
and took us directly into the City of Cleveland. We even went through the Capron hometown of Lakewood Ohio! (Congrats to Mike and Kathy on Baby number #2. blank Christopher Capron 9lbs 14oz. Yikes! By the Way Clayton would be a good name if you are having trouble deciding. :) The weather has turned nasty on us. Its raining right now as a matter of fact. Welcome to the east. We left in a light drizzle and it stayed overcast and muggy all day. Unfortunatly this pattern will be with us for the next few days. The fun thing today was the Rock and Roll hall of fame where we spent about 3 hours checking out the many exhibits and interactive displays. If you are ever in Cleveland it is certainly worth a look. The ride though Cleveland was actually very nice since we had very little traffic on a Saturday and several sections on bike paths. The bad news is there seems to be a couple of bugs working their way around camp. About 20 people sagged today because of a nasty stomach bug causing hours of vomiting. Also several people have come down with chest colds and I'm thinking I may be the next victim. I've been feeling lousy and sluggish most of the day and have that tickle and soreness in my throught. I stopped at CVS for some drugs and have been sucking down whatever I can to try and keep it under control. Cycling wet I'm sure is not the best thing in the world for it, but we shall see how it goes. Yesterday at Cedar Point was a good time. Myself and three other Rollercoaster fans (Howard, Shannon 'a guy', and Betty Jean) hit 10 coasters. The newest at 'The Point' is called the Millinium and holds several current records such as highest (310ft) fastest (93mph) steepest (80 degrees). We spent close to three hours in line for that 90 second ride and it was worth it all. What a complete rush. Just imagine dropping practically straight down for over 30 stories. All the other coasters although fun were nothing compared to that monster. We are nearing the home stretch now and I think everyone is getting eager to stop living out of tents and duffle bags. The route manager Charlie has referred to Pennsylvania as our 'Final Exam' so I'm expecting it to be a challenge. I just hope I don't have to tackle it sick. Tommorow is a short day and I'm going to take the chance to try and rest up in preperation for the final push. -Clay


30-Jul-00 Chagrin Falls to Canfield

Chagrin Falls OH to Canfield OH
58.2 miles
12.9 avg speed
Today was a short day which should have meant things would be easy, but it wasn't easy at all today. I have a full blown cold and felt miserable all day. I had no energy at all and every joint aches. When I pedaled I felt hot and clammy and when I stopped I felt cold and clammy. The miles seemed to just drag by. We also started to encounter some rolling hills today which slowed things down even further. Tomorrow is going to be very tough. 106 miles into PA hills on bad roads and through some heavy traffic. It should prove to be one of the tougher days of the tour. Its going to be tough enough healthy and I'm not looking forward to such a long day when I don't feel well. Therefore I'm going to keep this very short to try and get some rest. I was happily surprized today while doing some laundry when my Dad and brother Terry pull up. They drove about 3 hours to see me. THey had a much simpler time finding me than Karl did and we were able to go out to dinner. What a treat. Thanks Dad! Thats it. Hopefully I won't be writing the next update from the SAG wagon.


31-Jul-00 Canfield to Indiana, PA

Canfield OH to Indiana PA
102.6 miles
14.0 avg speed
Today was probably one of the hardest of the entire ride. Charlie our Route Manager calls it
a comprehensive final because it includes bad roads, lots of traffic, lots of hills, lots of miles, and as a added bonus we got pounded with rain. Luckily I woke up feeling much better than I did the night before. My head was clear and I had only a slight cough. The important thing is I was able to ride at a much faster pace then yesterday. I've been told that our accumulated elevation today was more than any other on the ride. I think it was around 6500. The rolling hills and long climbs just never stopped all day long. It was actually kind of fun and I was doing quite well until about 25 miles out when the rain started. We were just pounded with heavy thunderstorms. I tried to wait the first few out but it really wasn't much use. It would stop raining for a few minutes then start back in again. Of course this was the day I forgot to bring my jacket so the hot and sweaty ascents were followed by cold wet descents. We followed state route 422 east much of the day which is just loaded with big truck traffic. The truck would roar by sending up enormous amounts of spray. After awhile I just left everybody and it became just a stubborn race to get to camp as fast as I could. The good news is we are staying in a dorm tonight. The bad news is this is our last time and they're calling for more of the same tomorrow. Oh well, I knew we weren't going to make the entire trip rain free. -Clay


1-Aug-00 Indiana to Hollidaysburg

Indiana PA to Hollidaysburg PA
68.7 miles
12.5 avg
They should rename this state PennsHILLvania. Two miles out of camp we went right into a long climb. Thats one way to wake everyone up. Actually today was much better than yesterday. We were on more secluded roads so the traffic wasn't bad but the main thing was today was about 35 miles shorter than yesterday. One nice thing was riding on the 'Ghost Trail' rail-trail for 12 miles. This took us right by Eliza Furnace which is one of the oldest pig iron furnaces around. It was built in 1849. We also got some monster climbs in as we went by the Blue Knob skiing area. At least here in PA the hills sucker you in because just when you think you are rounding the last turn it just keeps going up. Unlike out west where you can see the whole thing in front of you. After our 7 mile climb we were treated to a nice 7 mile downhill with a 14% grade. Now THAT was fun. My top speed was a rather slow 48mph. (Although I think my computer is reading low since I changed out my tire) Oh yes and of course we again got pounded with rain. Most of the climb up Blue Knob was in the rain, and luckily it stopped just before the top so the descent was nice and dry but the last 15 miles into camp we rode in a torrential downpour. It was raining so hard you could see it come at you in waves as the wind blew. Three of us even missed a couple of turns and therefore had to backtrack giving us the everpopular 'bonus miles'. Once again the rain stopped just as we came into town and all was well with the world after a nice cup of hot chocolate. Once in camp I skipped dinner and hopped on the first shuttle to Altoona to catch the first stage of the Tour De Toona which is the biggest pro cycling stage race in the U.S. There is $140,000 in total prize money and all the best riders not already in Europe were there. (No Armstrong though, this is not enough $$ for his group) The 1st stage was a 3 mile loop in the city with 90 degree turns and a few good hills. It was a time trial so every 30 seconds they would let a rider go. Its truly amazing how fast the pros can go. The top Male time was 5:10 (just under 35mph!) and the top Female was 5:52 (just over 30mph). It was lots of fun to see, and I hope I can come back some day to watch another stage. There were several people who where on the olympic team there competing as well. Tomorrow will probably be more hills and more rain, but I hear that the slinky factory is nearby. Hmmmm..


2-Aug-00 Hollidaysburg to Mifflintown

Hollidaysburg PA to Miflintown PA
78.1 miles
15.5 avg speed
Hills Hills Hills. Up Down Up Down Up Down and to get to camp you go up up up! Many climbs
today across PA. It was a great ride though mainly because it didnt rain. Very hot and humid,
but no rain. I found that I actually like climbing the PA hills because there is always an
immediate payoff. You know you are in for a fun day when the cue sheet says things like 'Start
climb after turn... Steep Descent... Caution Hairpin turns... Zig Zags... Camp at top of hill'. Another great thing about today was that since we weren't getting pelted with rain I could actually take a few looks around. Guess what I saw? Lots and Lots of friggin HILLS! Seriously though riding through these small towns really took me back to when I lived in PA. They all have a similar feel with the company built duplexes, cinderblock foundations, steep gravel driveways, and lots of above ground pools. I love how some of the lesser used state roads wind up and down and you can end up whipping around a turn at 30mph and go straight through a town in just a few seconds. Of course if the town has a Ice Cream shop then its time to stop and meet the locals. This morning about 13 of us delayed leaving Hollidaysburg so we could swing by the 'James Industries' factory where they make Slinkys! After bullying our way past the receptionist the plant GM was more than willing to spend over an hour with us showing different slinky products and the factory. Believe it or not they still use the original machined hand built by Mr. James himself to make the metal slinkys. A couple neat things they had there was a $350 slinky made of sterling silver that gave off a mesmerizing glimmer when 'slinked'. They also had a special 12 inch (when retracted) slinky made for teachers to instruct students on wave theory. Toy companies are always a welcome distraction. Tonight we had a BigRide talent show where I got to see some great things like 79yr old Phil doing impersonations of Will Rogers, Abe Lincoln, and FDR. Lots of BigRide related jokes and songs and even a few people with real talent singing a tune or playing an instrument. Everyone is really starting to sense the finish line now. Tomorrow we have a couple more big climbs and then its a straight shot into DC. Just a few more days of port-a-johns and tent living then everyone must go back to the real world. There are so many things about this trip I will never forget and even more that I probably have already forgotten. Its really starting to sink in, among everyone I think, of just how far we have come and what a truly amazing thing this has been. Bring on the hills of Pennsylvania cause I'm coming home soon.


3-Aug-00 Mifflintown to Gettysburg

Miflintown PA to Gettysburg PA
69.5 miles
13.3 avg speed
Today we had two major climbs within the first 30 miles to contend with on our way to Gettysburg. Each went for about 3 miles at around 10% grade. (Although some sections were WAY steeper) Of course there were really rolling hills all day but these two climbs where billed as the last tough thing we will have to do before DC. Most people did just fine. I had a great time and went right up with no problems. One road had a switchback so severe that our luggage truck got stuck trying to negotiate the turn and had to wait for 2 hours while another truck came with a winch to help. Afterwards most people were ready to call it a day even though we still had 40 miles to go. After the last climb and roll into Carlisle PA I felt like I had done my part and it was time to relax. Well after a quick lunch I did finally make it back into Gettysburg where I joined many other riders that were hanging out at a pub downtown.
We lucked out yet again and didn't get rained on but it was very humid all day. It looks like the luck of the BigRide is going to hold out and we are going to have nice weather for the next few days. Tomorrow we have a short trip to Frederick after a few group pictures in town. I'm really looking forward to seeing Michelle and everyone else real soon.
Till then.






4-Aug-00 Gettysburg to Frederick, MD

Gettysburg PA to Frederick MD
52.6 miles
14.4 avg
Today I onced again proved the theory that no matter how many miles we have to do I always find something to keep from getting to camp before 4pm. Today was our short 'freebie' day of 36 miles to give the riders a break and to let them take tours of Gettysburg. Since I've seen and biked the battlefield before a few times I opted to make a detour and visit the Caprons and their new baby Ryan before heading into Frederick. What a little cutie. It was a strang feeling after biking all this way to come into an area that I have actually biked before. I remember thinking that if I wanted to I could actually ride that bike all the way home today. Wow.
The big treat today was having Mom and Michelle come to Frederick today with the RV and stay the night. It was so great to see them after all this time. Once I got cleaned up we headed out to dinner with a few more of my new BigRide friends Betty Jean, Steve, Brian, his wife Chris, and Kelly. We had the best time over dinner hanging out and laughing about our adventures on the road. I'm really going to miss the friends I have made on this trip. Our camp on the final night is directly next to the Frederick minor league baseball stadium and after their game tonight we were treated to a fireworks show. What an awesome way to wrap up our last night on the ride. I actually feel like I'm cheating since I'm sleeping in the nice cozy RV instead of a smelly musty tent.
Tomorrow we head into DC. I'm sure its going to be a great day and a complete madhouse with everyone on the mall and saying goodbyes. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone and having one last riding day.


5-Aug-00 Frederick to Washington DC

Frederick MD to Washington DC
57.2 miles
13.8 avg speed
This is it. Today was the final day. What I started 48 days and 3362 miles ago was completed today. Our route into DC was wonderful. There was very little Saturday morning traffic through Frederick and Montgomery county. We rode through sky high corn fields and even a large sunflower garden on our way to the Capital Crescent Trail which took us through DC to Georgetown. It was a very bittersweet ride because on one hand I would want to ride faster because I knew the finish was just up ahead, then I would realize that this was the last day and slow down to talk to other riders and just take it all in. At the two waterstops today several riders were carrying photo albums to sign. Barbara our beloved Canadian crew member had riders sign her Gatorade stirring paddle.
Things for me became kind of surreal once we were on the CCT trail in DC because now I was riding on a trail I have taken on many other normal Saturday mornings. I had to remind myself that I wasn't just out for a leisure ride but on the last stretch of a trip across the U.S. We had a staging area once we reached the Washington Waterfront next to the Watergate. There were lots of hugs, high fives, and picture taking among the crowd as we were getting lined up to make the last stretch onto the mall. Phil the 79yr old stud would lead us in pulling the Chain of Hope. As we inched our way onto the mall greeted by friends and family the emotions of the moment were overwhelming. It seemed like only yesterday we were in Seattle riding away from our loved ones and today we were riding back. It was just the best to see those who could make it to the mall. John and Martha who had their own logistical challange bringing the Smith brood to the mall, of course Mom and Michelle, Scott and Tracy, Dave and Deb, Jimmy, John and Aud, Dave and Eileen with Thomas and Dianne. It was great to see Rich and Nancy whom I have never met before but have been following the ride via email the entire trip. What a wonderful thing that they would come down to see someone they had never actually met cross the finish line. THANKS!
Its very difficult to put into words the feeling of finishing the ride. I was happy to be home, and sad to not be able to see my new friends every day anymore. I'm very glad to not have to roll up a tent every morning, but I'm going to miss arriving somewhere new every night. The contradictions go on and on.
Afterwards there was a nice reception at the Marriot where riders were introducing family members to thier new friends. Michelle said she felt like she already knew everyone from the updates and pictures. It was really fun to introduce people as 'This is Boston Mary who broke her toe on the rope swing, or this is Shannon from Fairfax who has to stop and pee every 8 miles.' :)

In typical BigRider fashion we devoured all food in sight at the reception and then crowded around the projector for the long awaited slide show by Dave 'California Photo Snapper' Nevala. Once the pictures started going by of all the places we have been, people met, and even roadkill swerved around, the realization of the truly massize scale and duration of this ride set in and there was not a single dry eye in the house. Afterwards Dave recieved a very heartfelt and deserved standing ovation for somehow managing to capture the beauty, humor, and joy of 48 days on the road as a rolling gypsy family.
With the ride done I was able to sleep last night in my own bed and enjoy a breakfast without styofoam for the first time in weeks. I'm truly going to miss hanging out with Brian, Kelly, Howard, Betty Jean, Shannon, and all the other riders each and every day. We would laugh and entertain ourselelves over the silliest things and just have a great time doing it. I'm going to miss riding by a coffee shop and seeing 20 bikes out front and knowing that when I step in there will be 20 of my closest friends eager to hang out and share a donught. I'm going to miss watching BigRiders overwhelm a cafe with their demands for pie and anything liguid. I'm going to miss cranking up the stereo and riding fast trying to chase people down and slowly wondering through small towns in search of the perfect watering hole.
Personally, I don't feel like a completly different or radically changed person but I do feel like I have just finished the most incredible journey of my life. Michelle tells me I've lost quite a lot of weight, I'm tan in some rather strange patterns, and I'm probably more relaxed than I have been in a long time. Dropping out of your normal routine and taking on something entirely different for awhile is something everyone should do. The world certainly doesn't stop turning if you don't read to paper every day or watch the evening news. And if anyone asks me the best way to travel the country you can bet that my answer is going to be 'By bicycle at an average of 15mph'.
Finally I must say that I have truly enjoyed sharing this ride with everyone via the email updates. I'm glad for what I could get down in writing to send to you no matter how tired I was. It really made me feel good to know that there were friends and family back home that were always eager to hear what I did that day and what mischief I had gotten into. I hope you are inspired to take your own journey someday and if you do you had better send me updates!
It will take a few weeks but I will have a web page available with pictures and probably even more descriptions of the trip, but unless anyone is interested in an update describing going to work and living a normal life this will be the last one.
Until the next trip.
"It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end"



8-Aug-00 College Park

Sooner or later I had to come back to work.







Biking to work on my first day back. I got a stranger to snap this picture for me.


Boy I got a tough commute don't I?


There is the beast. 3300 miles and still gets me to the office.


Back in the office. It makes me cry. :)


My pal Dave. Covered my butt while I was on the road.


Looks like the gave me a seat more suited for my lifestyle. Don't these folks know I rode a recumbent?