Will be on Monday, June the 1st. Be sure to check back then.
Practice Ride 1 – 1/12/09 – 72 Miles
(Note: This should give you a somewhat accurate indication of these will look like with some exceptions. First, I didn’t film a video that day, but that will never happen on the trip. Secondly, I am hoping once the trip gets going there will be more interesting interactions with people. There aren’t many people in the desert, sadly. Also there will probably be more pictures in each entry as well.)
(Note 2: To see large versions of the pictures just click on them.)
I figured that it would be a good idea to do a practice ride before setting out on the real trip, so when I got back to Arizona from Winter Break I spent a couple of days planning a route, and early one Monday morning, after only two hours of sleep (mostly from excitement) set out for a three day trip out towards eastern phoenix. I had recently read this journal and planned on doing something similar.
I pulled out of my complex at around 7:30 in the morning with my bike all loaded up, and preposterously poorly packed.
So anyway, I went out to Southern, the arterial road I live on, and as I am crossing the street, my entire back rack fell off. I kid you not, it was dragging on the ground behind my bike. I had ridden literally 1000 feet and I had already lost my entire back rack.
I cursed some, ignored the rush hour traffic staring at me, picked up my rack and pushed my bike back home. There I did some duct tape repairs to my rack after getting everything back together and set back out at around 8:15.
After I got through that, it was very smooth for a few hours. I rode east through Mesa, and had absolutely no issues.
Finally I got out to Power Road, which is basically the end of Phoenix, and did several calm hours with little traffic and beautiful scenery.
Eventually I got to Lake Saguaro, then the fun began. I would estimate that there was three or four miles that took me around an hour to do. It was absolutely straight uphill. There was frequent stopping and drinking and eating of dried ramen (yum). By the time I got to the top of the hill (the intersection of Bush Highway and 87) it was in the heat of day, and I was down to a bottle and a half of water.
From reading the journal earlier I knew that there was nothing in Sunflower, which was the next closest town north, and I had no idea if there was a gas station or anything between where I was and Payson. I didn’t have the water to camp out over night and cook. I found a spot in the trees off the road and took a three hour nap and think about what to do next.
When I woke up I decided to just head back towards Phoenix on 87. If it was the real trip I would have waved down some cars and seen if there was anything coming up, or if they had any water, but I didn’t want to make a total ass of myself on a practice ride. Luckily the entire ride home was straight downhill, and I got to stop at Taco Bell in Fountain Hills.
So I got home at around 8, having had failed, but this was a failure in which I had learned a lot about what needs to be done. As long as I always have duct tape, and get water frequently (even if it is only to top off a bottle or two) I should be fine. Well fine enough to survive anyway .
I filmed a quick Q&A session a few days ago where I talked about why I am taking my trip, some of my main inspirations, and also why I got this Domain Name for my website.
I want to add a little color to some of these responses.
So on the ‘why am I doing this?’ part, I feel like I overemphasized the introspection part and underemphasized the learning about people part. They are probably equally weighted in my brain. I like throwing people out of their comfort zone and seeing how they react. Hence me having a mohawk for a significant amount of time three times in the last few years.
Other blogs which sucked me in:
BikEarth – I didn’t really like the political overtones, and I remember being disappointed when it ended early, but definitely one of the blogs I followed the closest nevertheless. Something about it just drew me in.
Long Haul Trucking – Another blog that sucked me in.
Pete Kinnecom – A short but very entertaining read. Very funny.
Biking Barkley’s – About a newlywed couple taking a several year bike tour. They have an amazing camera and they show it off frequently. Really really gorgeous pictures.
Vas’ Odyssey – An interesting blog more in the spirit of On the Road (one of my favorites) than the others. Tons of really crazy stories.
So when I was a wee lad, I remember getting a PC, and how exciting that was for me. It was a 286/12, and I was probably 5 when we got it. One of the games that we got was a program called Chessmaster 2100. I played my father and the computer quite a bit in chess. I lost pretty much every time to both of them, but I still fancied myself as quite the chess player. I guess when you are young you don’t let empirical results get in the way of your opinions. My dad got a great chess set one day on a business trip to Mexico (I believe) and we would play on that fairly frequently. However, as I got older (maybe 8 years old) we stopped playing, and I stopped playing against the computer. After all, we had Nintendo, ESPN, and other more exciting computer games.
In middle and high school I became a huge technophile, checking sites like slashdot and zdnet every day. So my interest in chess was briefly rekindled when Kasparov played Deep Blue in 1996 and 1997 while I was in middle school. I still fancied myself quite the chess player despite not playing at all for the six years before that. However, this was short lived as the real world again proved to be more interesting and dynamic than the chess board.
Finally, when I was a sophomore in college (2003) Kasparov was playing Deep Junior, and these matches were televised on ESPN! This is what finally made me actually want to learn to play chess. Shortly after this match I decided to go to chess club to prove how much of a prodigy I was, despite not playing chess for the last 13 years. It turns out I sucked when presented with real competition.
(Sidebar: A few months after I started to attend chess club I was trying to get my roommate to play me in chess, and he kept saying no. Eventually I told him that I would pay him $15 if he won, since I knew that he couldn’t. Suffice it to say, he won. Oops.)
(Sidebar #2: A couple years ago I started taking Judo. This made me feel like a badass, so I would challenge my friends to (grappling) fights all the time. Somehow this ended with me fighting a friend (with no fighting experience) in a room with like 10 of my closest friends watching. I was choked totally unconscious. Oops again.)
(Final Sidebar: Moments like this are key for me. I am a naturally… ‘confident’ (to use a gentle word) person when it comes to any competition, or really anything that you can score. I need this stuff to get me back to earth sometimes. Anyway, I think that the embarrassing moments in your life are some of the best learning experiences you have. I have been blessed with many learning experiences.)
Anyway, back to Chess Club. I went to every meeting for the final two and a half years of college, and ended up becoming President. I got to go to the Kasparov – X3D Fritz Match in New York in Fall of 2003 (an all around fantastic weekend I spent with an old friend where I got to meet (and drink with!) tons of the best chess players in the world). I played chess full time after I graduated for a month, going to at least a tournament or two a week. I took off three days during my second week of full-time work (that was a fun conversation to have with your boss) to go to the World Open (the biggest chess tournament in the world) where I came in third in my section, netting me a nice profit.
After that I again pretty much quit the game, as ‘real life’ took over. I stopped following along with the sites that I used to frequent so often.
Life went on for a few years, and eventually I decided to quit my job (I decided on November 15, 2006 that I wanted to get an MBA, took the GMAT’s on December 1st, and had my first application in December 13th) and go back to school to a school that offered an MBA you could get simultaneously with a masters in Information Management (which is what I did). I got here to ASU, and then realized that I was over my 20 year love affair with computers. I didn’t want to work with setting up computer systems and programs forever. I dropped the MSIM degree and picked up a Specialization in Real Estate shortly after arriving. I had no reason to choose Real Estate over anything else, but just chose it because it seemed to be a little entrepreneurial and very different from Information Systems (maybe I could even be outdoors some!).
The Real Estate program here is definitely the most time consuming (and probably most stressful) in the entire MBA program here at ASU. This meant that I was spending a lot of time killing myself over project deadlines. This meant I spent a lot of time in front of my computer as opposed to going out with everyone else. This meant I was surfing the web as a way to procrastinate. This made me begin to peruse a couple of my old chess sites because they were preferable to doing real work. One of these was chessmind.powerblogs.com, written by a guy named Dennis who used to post online chess lessons that I used to watch.
One day I was looking through his archives and I found this post. It is a really tragic post about a friend that he knew that was killed while riding his bike when he was struck by a car in Arizona. He linked up a website called crazyguyonabike.com to celebrate some of his friend’s writings.
I began poking around here and loved it almost immediately, if for no other reason than because it was so very different from slaving away indoors on a project to get it done before a deadline. I didn’t even know that it was possible to go so far on a bike. The plan to ride my bike around the world after graduation was quickly hatched in March/April of 2008. This was later altered to make it just the country (for a large variety of reasons – lack of money being the main one – but I still dream of doing the world).
So that is my story on how I decided to ride my bike around the country.
Life is a random thing.
Below is a little blurb about me and my trip.
I sort of get a chuckle when I begin struggling for words and just say ‘mostly through the north’ after I talk about going up the west coast. What I really wanted to say was that I have no idea how I will get across the country. I will probably end up in Idaho and Montana in the beginning, but beyond that, I will see which way the wind blows me.
This was also horribly awkward to do, but I think there was a large improvement even between the first and second post, so I just got to work on making them better continuously.
Because this is a reasonable introduction, I will probably perma-link this post in the top bar.