Thursday, July 30, 2009

Virginia is for lovers

On the Road

We had quite the day today! Before hitting the road we roamed around Lexington checking out Washington and Lee University, VMI, and Stonewall Jackson's house. Once we started riding we pounded out a quick 18 miles to Vesuvius and took a quick stretch there. From Vesuvius there was a STEEP four mile, 2,000 foot climb. People say the Rockies are tough, but they don't know anything about mountains. Check back soon for my "Ode to the Appalachians".

At the top we turned onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, a highway that runs along several ridges of the Appalachians. It was a beautiful ride with beautiful scenery ("Dude it's not the Rockies, in the Rockies the views are EPIC") and the descent was smooth and easy.

At the base of the mountain we came into a little town called Afton. Afton is famous among cross-country cyclists because it is home to June Carter, the Cookie Lady! June has served cross country cyclists for over 30 years with drinks, cookies, and a place to stay in her house. She converted an entire floor into a have for cyclists. The walls are covered in memorabilia from the last three decades. I left my torn jersey, from my crash in Colorado, on the wall and signed it. It was my contribution to a little piece of history. June is quite possibly the nicest lady I have ever met and her story is incredible. She is one of those people who really reaffirms your faith in the goodness of people and the perseverance of the human spirit.

We stayed for hours talking. When 6 o'clock rolled around we had to part ways and finished the last 25 miles into Charlottesville. Currently we are staying with some friends of a friend. I went to school with Andy Madigan, a current UVA student, and he offered us his room in a house to crash in. In the morning we are going to walk around campus, check out Monticello which is a couple miles down the road, and bike all the way to Richmond. Looking forward to a good night's sleep tonight, my legs are fried! Good night all!


Fact of the Day

For every 2 people starting HIV treatment, 5 are newly infected. The rate at which the virus is spreading is alarming. Face AIDS seeks to spread education about the disease so that people can develop safe habits to protect themselves from infection. Prevention is one of our greatest allies.


Trivia Contest

Answer to yesterday's question: Robert E. Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson are buried in Lexington. Lee is entombed in the church on the W&L campus while Jackson lies in a cemetery nearby. Both are clearly marked with some really cool statues. 10 points to my Dad, 0 points to KTO, but an A for effort!

Today's Trivia Question: Washington and Lee University gets its name from George Washington and Robert E. Lee. What is the family connection between these two men that serves as the basis for the college name? (10 points)

BONUS Question: Who designed the original part of the UVA campus? (5 points)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Let it rain, let it rain

On the Road

As beautiful as Virginia is, the weather is not cooperating with us. When looking at the weather reports last night we learned that a big storm was making its way across our path. Oh well, that's how it has to be. This morning we got 6 miles into our ride and Dave already had two flats. Upon closer inspection it was revealed that Dave's back tire was shredded. In the interest of time (and beating the on coming storm) Lauren picked up Dave and took him to the bike store to get a new tire while I pushed on alone.

The first 30 miles were fine but when I entered a small town called Catawba the rain really started coming down. I stopped at a small store, downed a peperoni/sausage pizza, washed it down with a Mug root beer, and stepped back outside ready to brave the storm. The first couple of miles were terrible, but once I accepted that it wasn't going to start raining everything was good.

About 40 miles into the day the clouds broke and the rain passed. 10 miles later I met up with Dave and we pushed the last 50 miles into Lexington. Lexington is home to both Washington and Lee University and the Virginia Military Institute. Since it was around 6 when we arrived most things were closed but Dave and I are going to get up early tomorrow and walk around town before biking to Charlottesville. It's a short day (77 miles) but there is a pretty nasty climb 20 miles in that will take a little bit of time.


Fact of the Day

With just over 10% of the world's population, sub-Saharan Africa is home to 95% of the world's AIDS orphans and 60% of all people infected by HIV. The numbers speak for themselves. This is one of our answers for "Why Africa?". Because a disproportionate amount of people are being affected with HIV in Africa compared to other places in the world.



Trivia Contest


Answer to yesterday's question: Mt. Mitchell is the largest mountain in the Appalachians. I was going to give KTO 1 point for every foot that Mt. Mitchell rose above sea level, but turns out she isn't that far behind Mrs. Evans (47 points). KTO has joined Nate Rooks in a tie for 2nd with 30 points a piece. Give it a day or two and Mrs. Evans' streak could be over.


Today's Trivia Question: What two famous Confederate generals are buried in Lexington, VA? (5 points a piece)



Presentation Announcement


On August 12 Dave and I will give a presentation about AIDS, Face AIDS, and our ride at St. John's High School starting at 7 PM. Afterwards everyone is invited back to my house for some light snacks, good conversation, and friends. If you will be in the Central Massachusetts area we would love to have to stop by! If you plan on attending, please let me know at rideagainstaids2009@gmail.com. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lincoln's Birthplace

A couple of days ago we passed Lincoln's birthplace in Kentucky. It was only a couple miles into our day, but we decided to stop and check it out. Here are a couple of pictures from the visit.

The Memorial Building on the park grounds.


The Memorial Building housed this log cabin. While it was not the exact cabin in which Lincoln was born (its origins are traced back to the 1840's) it was found on the grounds where the Lincolns' cabin would have stood.




Ride Against AIDS Reaches the East Coast

On the Road

We are officially on the East Coast! Yesterday we crossed the Kentucky border and entered into Virginia. The riding has been very tough. Who knew the Appalachians would pose such a challenge? While the elevation doesn't rival that of the Rockies, the grades are much, much steeper and really take it out of your legs.


This photo was taken after the "Leaving Kentucky" sign and before the "Welcome to Virginia" sign. We call it the black line. You know, like state boundaries on a map.

Yesterday we stayed at a local hostel in Damascus, VA. One of the local churches had a place set up where hikers (Appalachian Trail) and cyclists could spend the night on their way through Virginia. We met some cool people and had a great time swapping stories ("What made you decide to bike across the country, you're nuts!" "Are you kidding me? You're walking it!").

We went to bed under the impression that we had only 87 miles to ride today. Upon reviewing the map this morning, however, we realized how off we were. We ended up doing 106 and climbing about 5,000 feet in the process. Surprisingly, I felt a lot better today than yesterday, but by the end my legs were wiped. Virginia is beautiful, though, and I really, really enjoy biking through the countryside.

Some of the beautiful Virginia countryside.

Tomorrow was supposed to be a rest day for us, but we've decided to push on. Our Couch Surfers feel through here so we don't have a place to stay (Mr. Evans put us up at last minute in a hotel...thanks!). Over the next couple of days we bike to Lexington, Charlottesville, and Richmond before turning north. We'll take the off day in Richmond so we can check out some of the Civil War stuff there.


Fact of the Day

60% of tuberculosis patients in South Africa are HIV-positive. It's easy to focus on one aspect of health care. But if you treat someone for AIDS while TB or malaria kills them, you are sort of missing the big picture. That's why we believe in comprehensive health care. If you need food, you get food. If you need shelter, you get shelter. If you need mosquito nets, you get mosquito nets. Partners in Health, the money who receives the funds we raise, also believes this and provide free, comprehensive health care for people living in developing countries. Check out what they do at www.pih.org


Trivia Contest

Answer to Sunday's question: The four commonwealths are Massachusetts, Kentucky, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. 12 more points to Mrs. Evans! I'm going to suspend the daily rankings until someone challenges our leader's supremacy.

Today's Trivia Question: What is the tallest Appalachian Mountain (10 points)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sometimes you're the Louisville slugger, sometimes you're the ball

On the Road

Last night your friendly RAA team was witness to the most ferocious lightning storm any of us had ever seen. It found it hard to fall asleep and even when I did it seemed I was woken up only an hour later to the sound of thunder. Overall it was not the best night of sleep.

Weather forecasts predicted rain and thunder storms in the area, so Dave and I rose before the break of dawn, broke camp, and hit the road. There was a decent climb out of Booneville and at the top we were met with a light sprinkle. After our first descent the rain picked up until it was a heavy, heavy downpour. We had another climb and descent before taking a (very) early break 18 miles into our ride at Buckhorn.

A cup of coffee later we were back on the road in the pouring rain. Once again we found ourselves climbing out of town and a steep, slippery descent followed. I gripped my brakes as tight as I could, slowly navigating the fierce corners in the pouring rain. The steep downhill grade and driving rain made for extremely dangerous conditions. At the bottom of the hill, only 20 miles into our day, we pulled into a gas station to assess the situation.

The rain was not likely to pass, in fact it was only supposed to get worse. Lightning strikes off in the distance threatened our position so we flagged Lauren down. In the car we came to a unanimous decision: we had to call it quits for the day and head to the hotel we had booked for the night. So, after only 20 miles, we drove off into the hills and have missed 70 miles.

As difficult as it is to miss miles, this decision was certainly the safest one. On our ride we saw downed trees, blind corners, and cars driving wildly. One of us was certain to wreck and it was not a chance we wanted to take.

We've spent the afternoon and the evening chilling at our hotel in Pikeville, KY. Dave and I just got back from Transformers: Rise of the Fallen. I tried to think of something witty or dry to say about this film- certainly one of the great sequels, much like The Godfather 2- but I am at a loss for words. It was....I got nothing.

Tomorrow we continue on into Virginia! East Coast here we come!


Fact of the Day

Only 23% of people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are receiving the anti-retroviral therapy they need. Considering that the vast majority of HIV-infected people live in sub-Saharan Africa, very few people who need these drugs are getting them.


Trivia Contest

Answer to yesterday's Trivia: Berea was founded in 1855 and people of all backgrounds- men, women, blacks, and whites- could attend. Mind you this was 8 years before the Emancipation Proclamation and 65 years before women gained the right to vote. 5 points to my Dad for coming up with the year first and 5 points to Hailey, our friend Dave met at Berea, for answering the latter part of the question.

Today's Trivia Question: What are the four Commonwealths in the Union? (3 points a piece)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

On the Road

Whew, it's been a couple of days so I'll try to keep this as short as possible. The biking has been great. I got back on the bike yesterday and my legs are feeling good (but tired) and the cuts are holding up very nicely. I forsee no further complications, but knock on wood, I don't want to miss any more miles!

Kentucky continues to get more and more beautiful. Today we worked our way up to the base of the Appalachian mountains. They are much shorter than the Rockies or the Sierra Nevadas (our biggest peak is around 4,000 feet) but they are significantly steeper so it will make for some long days in the near future.

One of the many beautiful backroads of Kentucky.

Speaking of long days, we rode 100+ miles today. The first 50 took out a lot of both Dave and me, but we stopped in Berea and checked out the college there for a while. The wind was blowing very hard and we tried to wait it out; I'd had enough of head/cross winds from the morning.

After pushing on we tried to break up the last 55 miles into 30 and 25 miles segments. Lauren got lost in the windy roads though so we rode all the way in and met her in Booneville, KY. The rain started coming down in the last couple miles so we rode very hard and rewarded ourselves with a big dinner. I had a double bacon cheeseburger, fries, four cokes, a sirloin/egg/cheese breakfast sandwich, and a slive of peanut butter pie. I could have had more.

Nine order tickets in total for the table. Oh yeah.

Now we are cmaping out back of a Presbyterian Church in town. The church has set up a free camp ground for cyclists passing through complete with bathrooms and showers! It's a very welcome surprise at the end of a long day and should refresh us for a long day tomorrow. We're going 125 miles or so to Elkhorn City. It's longer than we originally planned but it gives us some good flexiblity for housing two days from now. Besides, go big or go home.

There's a little story that Dav insists I tell on the blog. Throughtout Kentucky it has not been uncommon to be chased by dogs for a little bit. Often they are small and just want to play, but we've had our fair share of dogs that look pretty vicious and just want to take a big chomp out of our juicy legs.

Well we were biking along this ridge this evening. Dave was leading by 5 bike lengths or so when a large (140 lbs) black dog starts to bark, chases Dave, and nips at his heels. Dave barely made it through. I froze at the start of the dog's property. It turned, barked, and started to sprint directly at my down the centerline.

I developed a theory early in the day while outrunning a German Shepard that likens biking past dogs to playing basketball. When you are on offense you have to beat your defender with your first step. If you can beat him with one step, you can turn the corner and get to the hoop. If, however, the defender reads your step and blocks your path you have nowhere to go. Well Dave beat the dog with his first step but I could not do so.

Anyways this 140 lbs, very fast, snarling dog is barreling down on me so I about faced and start booking it away from our destination. I managed to get away and the dog returned to its yard. A 5 minute sparring session ensued. I would try to sneak by, the dog would block my path and try to end my life. After a few unsuccessful attempts, the owner came out and managed to pin the dog- aptly named "Bruiser"- down. "He's all bark and no bite!" he kindly chuckled as I sped on by. I thanked him but didn't wait around for the dog to be released.

It's safe to say I am officially terrified of dogs.


Fact of the Day

For only $4 you can buy a one time drug dosage that will prevent the transfer of HIV from mother to child during pregnancy. This fact is one that really gets to me. Having grown up in a household with two, healthy parents who worked hard and provided me with the opportunities to get where I am today I am extremely thankful for the blessings in my life. Yet everyday children are born with HIV, have no access to the life saving drugs that we can produce, and die before they are 5 years old only because they were born in a 3rd world country. Yet for $4- $4!!- these kids can be given a chance at life. Ultimately, that's what we all want and $4 seems a small price to pay for the life of a child.


Trivia Contest

Answer to Wednesday's Question: I must confess that I have led my reading audience astray. As it turns out the men on the Kentucky state falg are NOT Daniel Boone and Henry Clay but symbolic figures of "the stateman" and "the pioneer". As I was corrected by Mrs. Evans she gets the 10 points and assumes the lead on our scoreboard! Has Nate Rooks gone silent? Will KTO make her comeback? Keep checking back to find out!

Today's trivia Question: In what year was Berea College founded (5 points)? Who was allowed to enroll (5 points)?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Driving 'ol Dixie Down

On the Road

It rained hard last night. I awoke several times to the pounding of the rain on the top of our tent. The protective covering held fast, though, and all our team rose in the morning dry and warm. Camp was broken, and we stopped at a local restaurant for breakfast before taking the ferry- the only way across the Ohio River- to Kentucky.

As Dave pushed off from the Kentucky shore the rain still came down at a decent pace. Lauren and I drove on through the countryside and waited for Dave in a small town 40 miles down the road called Dixon. As I sat in the library reading I received a text from Lauren that Dave had arrived and pushed on another 20 miles. The clouds had broken and the sun was starting to push through.

We continued on through the beautiful countryside of Kentucky. The interlocking corn fields, bundles of hay, and green forest formed distinct patterns that resembled patchwork quilts. After another short stop in a small town Dave pushed onward before calling it a day. We drove a few miles up to Owensboro to a hotel the Evanses had reserved for us. It was a special treat after a long day of very wet biking for Dave.

For dinner we found ourselves at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Not having biked for two days I kept my plates on the small side, though it should be noted my dinner plate did not differ all that much in size from my dessert plate. Dave, however, must have had eyes bigger than his stomach. I almost had to roll him out of the car back into the hotel.


Fact of the Day

Approximately 1 in 5 adults in Zimbabwe is living with HIV. The life expectancy for men is 37. For women it is only 34. I'm currently reading a book called My Own Country about the spread of AIDS during "the plague years" in rural Tennessee. The author, infectious disease specialist Dr. Abraham Verghese, makes the observation that while some diseases target older people, AIDS is predominantly a young person's disease.


Trivia Contest

Answer to yesterday's trivia: 10 more points to Mrs. Evans! Face AIDS boasts more than 150 chapters on high school and college campuses across the country. If you are interested in starting one please send us an email at rideagainstaids2009@gmail.com or go to www.faceaids.org. It's easy to start, rewarding to participate, and important to maintain.

Today's Trivia Question: Kentucky's state flag boasts what famous pioneer? (10 points)

Standings: Nate Rooks maintains his slim lead (30 points) over Mrs Evans (25 points) and KTO/Matty Pru (20 points). Will Mrs. Evans' overtake the top spot tomorrow?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cave in Rock, IL


On the Road

We woke this morning to cloud covered skies and moderate temperatures: perfect biking weather. As Dave hit the road out of Carbondale Lauren and I stayed behind gathering our things and saying our goodbyes. Once we were on the road we cruised for 41 miles before meeting up with Dave in Simpson, IL.

The rest day made Dave's legs fresh. "Forty miles is nothing any more," he proclaimed. "I feel like I just finished my warm up!" He covered the last 42 miles, back roads that follow the gently sloping hills of southern Illinois, in no time at all. We had all arrived at our destination, Cave in Rock, by 2.

Cave in Rock is a small town that sits on the edge of the Ohio River. Main St. is usually congested with a line of 5 or 6 cars waiting to load the ferry that traverses the river and arrives on the Kentucky shore. We sat in a small cafe a few roads back from the river and ate a hearty meal before setting up camp in the state park.

The state park is divided into two parts, the campground and the town's namesake: a large cave in a large rock. We ventured down there around 5. A light rain drizzled on us as we descended the stone staircase to the river bank. The river was quiet. The cave itself is mammoth in size and has a surprisingly long history. Travelers in the area marked its existence as early as 1739, but when Lewis and Clark came across the cave in the early 19th century it had been used for some time as a hide out for thieves, murders, and counterfeiters.


Cycling is great and all, but sometimes you just need to get your lift on. Here's Dave at the entrance to Cave in Rock doing some dips.

Dave, Lauren, and I wandered around the cave for a while before meandering down to the river shore to watch a large barge struggle upstream. The rain started to pick up so we made our way back to the campsite, found some shelter, and have spent the past few hours reading away. As I type Dave and Lauren have just started a game of Yahtzee. Tensions are rising.

But an hour ago the rain was coming down quite hard. It has started to subside now and we hope it clears up a little bit for tomorrow. The ferry will take us to Kentucky tomorrow where we will ride 80 or so miles (is Dave even getting a workout anymore?) to our destination.

The state park at Cave in Rock, IL. You can see Kentucky just across the Ohio River.


Fact of the Day

39.5 million people were living with HIV in 2006. The magnitude of the virus, a virus that does not discriminate between white and black, man or woman, gay or straight, is one of the many reasons we have chosen to spend out summer spreading awareness about this disease.


Trivia Contest
Answer to this morning's question: Popeye the Sailor. Popeye's creator, Elzie Crisler Segar, was born and raised in Chester, IL a small town on the Mississippi River.

Answer to this morning's BONUS question: Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri in 1835. Once described by William Faulkner as "the father of American fiction", Mark Twain's often wrote about his homeland and the river it bordered.

Today's trivia question: This is more of a research project. Name five schools, other than Stanford, that have Face AIDS chapters. (2 points/school, 10 points max).

With two correct answers this morning, Mrs. Evans leaps onto the scoreboard with 15 points! The top of the leader board remains unchanged: Nate Rooks (30 points) is followed by a tie in 2nd place between KTO and Matty Pru (20 points a piece).


Other News

Dave recently uploaded about 100 more photos to SnapFish. If you want see all of our fun and games, click on the link on the left side of the page. There are some great ones!

M-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i

Dear Readers,

It's been more than a month on the road (only 3 or so weeks left!) and I feel like it's time to stitch things up a little bit. Thus, I will try to organize the blog into different sections. "On the Road" will give you a daily account of our travels, observations, and people we meet. The Trivia Contest will provide the answer to yesterday's question, pose a new one, and give leader board updates. I will also implement a new section: "Fact of the Day". The fact will pertain to Face AIDS, HIV, Partners in Health, or another aspect of our organization. Finally, (and this falls on you, my dear readers) I want to get a "Reader Feedback" page going. We've had scattered messages, comments, and suggestions from family and friends, but we would really like to hear from you some more. So if you have anything to ask, tell, or comment on, please leave us a comment (I think you need to create a user name to do so) or shoot us an email at rideagainstaids20009@gmail.com. Thanks a ton, and now onto the blog!

On the Road

It's now Tuesday morning and before we get going on the bikes this morning I've found some time to get back into the blogging world and write about the past couple of days.

Saturday was our longest day of the trip: 130+ miles! My legs were sore from getting back onto the bike the day before, but I was still so excited to finally be riding again that I was up to the challenge. It was, however, quite the challenge. Missouri has proved to be a tougher state than we anticipated. Our topography maps showed steep inclines, but the flux in elevation only ranged from 800-1400 feet. After having slaved in the mountains for the first three weeks of of this trip we didn't think too much of these hills.

Turns out we were wrong. We attributed the sharp spikes in the topography charts to a poor scale. As it was, the hills were far steeper than anything we had encountered. Each one took quite an effort, and there were plenty of them. Dave likened Missouri to one of our crew workouts: Canadian Bacon. Each hill involved a short burst of maximum effort while the other parts were more or less cruising. I agreed and also offered the image of a roller coaster.

The day brought us to Farmington, MO. We stayed with a CouchSurfer, Kelsey. She took us out to dinner- where we had massive burgers- before going back to her place to crash for the night. I had planned on writing this blog that evening, but once dinner was over I was in bed. I slept from 8:30 PM to 7 the next morning.

Sunday we rode from Farmington, MO to Carbondale, IL. 50 miles into our 90 mile day we crossed out of Missouri and into Illinois. We've crossed a lot of state borders in the past few weeks, but this one was particularly cool because the natural border between the states is the Mississippi River! I'd been looking forward to this part of the ride for a long time and it did not disappoint. The Mississippi is massive. Barges move up and down the river and kids played on the shores. We rode along the river for a ways before breaking east and continuing on or journey.

By the early afternoon we had reached Carbondale, a college town in Illinois. We met up with John, Matt, Kyle, and some of their friends. These guys were to be our hosts for the next two nights (we had planned a rest day in Carbondale). They were all swimmers/divers for SIU Carbondale and their teammates knew one of our friends on the Stanford swim team. They were awesome hosts and showed us a really good time! I hope they all come out to California sometime so we can reciprocate the hospitality.

Today we have a 90-mile day from Carbondale to Cave in Rock, IL (I kid you not, that is the name!). Cave in Rock is a small town on the Ohio River on the southeastern corner of Illinois. Tomorrow we'll cross into Kentucky which marks the end of the Midwest and our first excursion into the South. My goal over to next few days is to find some legitimate Kentucky Fried Chicken. Wish me luck!

In other news, I am off the bike again. Yesterday evening I went to the local hospital to have the stitches removed. They came out cleanly and the cuts looks good, but the doctor told me there was a decent chance the cuts could come open again with biking. This, he said, wouldn't be detrimental to my health, but would increase the recovery period and leave a larger scar. Now I'm all for big, bad scars, but with my obligations back on campus to the team, I don't think it would be fair for me to risk spending another month rehabbing my leg when a couple days off know could do the job. Of course I am terribly disappointed, but I know this is the right call and will try to be more productive with my time in the car.


Fact of the Day

AIDS deaths in sub-Saharan Africa represent 72% of AIDS deaths worldwide. One of the questions we get asked a lot on the road is "Well why focus on Africa when people are dying of AIDS here in America?" This fact helps a lot with that answer. The prevalence of the disease and the inability of people to receive the medical care they need makes Africa a place desperate for support and we hope to provide that in as big a way as we can.


Trivia Contest

Answer to Friday's Trivia: Wild Bill killed a man over a watch. Oh, the wild wild west! 10 more points to Nate Rooks who is rapidly running away with the competition.

Today's Trivia Question: Chester, IL, the first town we arrived in after crossing the Mississippi, is home to what famous cartoon character? (10 points)

BONUS Question: Missouri is the home state of American author Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He is better known by what name? (5 points)

Nate Rooks is now our leaders with 30 points. Not far behind at KTO and Matty Pru with 20 points a piece.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Back in the saddle again

Dave, Lauren, and I rolled out of bed this morning refreshed, excited, and ready to hit the road. Chris Brammer, our host in Springfield, had welcomed us into his home and it was just what we all needed. The previous day we arrived in Springfield around 3 and Chris met us in the center of town. We chatted and had some snacks before he brought us to the local college where we showered while he went home.

Before going to dinner at Chris’s house we stopped at the Bass Pro Shop. For all the non-fishermen out there, Bass Pro is the quintessential outdoor shop for all things fishing. The corporation is actually based in Springfield, MO and let me tell you, the outlet is MASSIVE. I won’t begin to describe. Let your imaginations run wild with guns, fishing poles, and lots of camo.

After Bass Pro we headed over to Chris’s house for dinner. Chris and his wife, Robyn, just had their first child, Wyatt, two days ago! Tired, but happy, they welcomed us into their home and we enjoyed a great lasagne dinner with their parents, all four who were proud first-time grandparents.

Having enjoyed a great home cooked meal, it was time to head to the church where we would be sleeping. On the way I was dropped off at a local clinic and had my chest stitches removed. Needless to say I was very happy, except for the fact that it is almost healing too well and I fear that I won’t have as sweet a scar as I imagined.

Today we had an 80-mile day which was prolonged to around 90 after a “scenic tour” Dave and I chose to take….which of course means we got lost. Once we found our way we cruised on and made it all the way to Houston.

As some may know, today was my first day back on the bike in eight days! I was so pumped to finally be riding again, but let me tell you, my legs are feeling it. The past 8 days were just limited activity; I tried to do as little as physically possible! My legs are really sore and tomorrow we have our longest day of the trip: 132 miles!

It’s getting late and I can’t wait to crawl into bed so I will save my perceptions of Missouri until tomorrow. Thanks for reading, and come back tomorrow!

Answer to yesterday’s Trivia: Missouri is the “Show-Me” state. Check back tomorrow for the origin of this nickname.

Today’s Trivia Question: "Wild Bill" Hickok, a daunting figure in Old Western Lore, killed a man in Springfielf, MO in a draw over a small piece of property. What was this article over which the argument was held?

Trivia Contest Standings: Part 2

The battle for the RAA Trivia Contest title rages on! The recent emergence of the player-coach Nate Rooks onto the playing field has created a three-way tie for first place. As of today the standings are:

1. Nate Rooks- 20 points
1. Matty Pru- 20 points
1. Katie O'Neil- 20 points
4. Christie Lehren- 15 points
5. The Lilley Family- 10 points
6. Sean Keeley- 9 points

With just under a month left, the game is still wide open. As usual the trivia question will be something pertaining to an event in the day or a random (and probably useless) fact that we recently learned. So keep checking back and playing the game!

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: The stakes in the game have just been raised! The winner will not only receive a Face AIDS DVD and a kiss from our lovely own Dave Evans, but Dave will take the lucky winner out on the town for an evening! Pictures of a potential date will soon follow.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Midwest rolls on

I seem to have already broken my promise of more posts, so I must ask for our readers' forgiveness. The days pass surprisingly quick in the support van! My days riding shotgun are almost numbered, however, so I expect to blog more frequently when I'm back on the road. There's more time to think and more things to notice when you are crawling along between 15-20 mph.

Tuesday's blog was left off with 50 miles to go. Those miles went smoothly and we gathered in Eureka, KS to camp for the evening. About a week ago some other riders, those headed towards the West Coast, informed us that we were allowed to pitch tents in city parks. So that was exactly what we did. It was a cozy little spot and we fell asleep to the sounds of a far off thunderstorm.

Yesterday was the first day that the winds died down at all. As he has been doing with these long days, Dave got up earlier and hit the road while Lauren and I broke camp. Things were going great until our first break. Just after Dave got back on the road we saw some serious storm clouds gathering in the distance. Lauren and I drove only a little ways before the rain started to fall. We turned around and got Dave in the Dave just before the biggest downpour of the trip.

With thunder and lightening all around us, the team made the executive decision to drive the 15 miles between us and Chanute in order to get some safe shelter. It is never a pleasant decision to skip any amount of miles, but we felt it was best.

In Chanute we grabbed subs in a little shop that served BIG sandwiches. Perhaps he forgot he still had to bike, but Dave ate a 12-inch sub (they serve at least 5 oz. of meat alone per 6 inch sandwiches!) and promptly slouched to the car to sleep it off. Lauren and I sat at the small round tables outside- think Parisian cafe style- reading. 

The miles continued on and eventually we wound up in Pittsburgh, KS, a town on the Missouri border. There we grabbed dinner at one of the local Pizza Huts and went over to the local movie theater to catch the latest Harry Potter movie. We'd all been wanting to see a movie for several weeks now so we enjoyed sinking into those big, comfy chairs and watching some serious magic. Afterwards we pitched a tent in the local park and fell asleep.

Right now we are back on the road and 55 miles from our destination. We crossed the Missouri border about 20 miles back. The afternoon could have some great media coverage in store for us. We contacted a family, Chris and Robyn, on CouchSurfer two nights ago in Eureka hoping they could get us a place to stay. Only a few hours later we received a call from Chris who was in the hospital with his wife who had just given birth to their first  child! He had heard about our ride and wanted to help get us some coverage in Springfield! Needless to say the whole team was extremely appreciative and awed at his go-get-'em attitude; becoming a father wasn't busy enough of a day for Chris, he had to get in touch with local TV and radio stations too! Can't wait to meet him, he seems like a very, very cool guy.

That's all for right now. I will do my best to get some photos up and another blog soon. My chest stitches come out today so I should be in very high spirits. Thanks for reading and come again soon!

Answer to the last trivia question: Laika, a Soviet dog, was the first animal from Earth to enter space. Nate Rooks steals all 10 points of the day!

Today's trivia Question: Florida is the Sunshine state. Massachusetts in the Bay State. California is the Golden State. What is Missouri?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dust in the wind...

The band Kansas once wrote a song called "Dust in the Wind" in which they lament human mortality, crooning: "Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind". We've only been in Kansas for a couple of days, but I venture to offer this amendment to the song: "Dust in the wind, all Kansas is is fields, dust, and headwinds".

Since we've left Colorado there had been a strong headwind blowing out of the East. As the prevailing winds generally blow from West to East, encountering the headwind has made for some very long days. Several other factors, including the long miles (100-120 a day) and the inability to draft, have made this a challenging state.

After talking with some doctors, teammates, and coaches, I decided to stay off the bike until I got the stitches in my legs removed. As disappointed as I am (believe me, nothing drives me as crazy as inactivity, so sitting in the support car as Dave bikes along is torture), I know this is the best approach to the solution. I feel bad for Dave who has to endure the winds alone, but maybe worse for Lauren who has to bear my often terrible jokes. She's been a real trooper.

Two days ago we pulled into Hutchinson, KS for a rest day. Dave was exhausted from the wind and miles; he's been a real warrior tackling some serious miles on his own. A rest day was certainly in order and we were happy to show up at the house of the CouchSurfers we would be staying with, Sam and Sherry Flaming.

Sam and Sherry lived in a house just south of Hutchinson, adjacent to a large farm. Across the road was a large green field and cows roamed next door. It struck a chord in me as reminiscent of my childhood vacations to visit my grandmother in Indiana; this was the Mid-West.

We met our hosts and sat down for dinner. Sam and Sherry are newly weds (congratulations guys!) and were such wonderful hosts. We greatly enjoyed their company and fell asleep that night happy to be in Kansas. The following day Dave, Lauren, and I went into town. After dropping off our bikes at the local shop for some maintenance, we went to the Cosmosphere, a huge space museum. Dave ran around like a kid in a candy shop (engineers, can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em), but Lauren and I had just as good a time too.

We grabbed a late Mexican lunch, picked up the bikes, and then grabbed a drink with Sam and Sherry at a local bar. Afterwards we headed home for another great dinner and a game of croquet. Even though I lost to both Sam and Sherry, I made sure to remind Dave he had lost to a cripple. He promptly reminded me how much fun he has biking. Dave 1, Austin 0.

Today we are back on the road. Dave is still braving the headwinds (c'mon Kansas! give us a break!) while Lauren and I are sitting in a nice little coffee shop in Hesston. We'll get back on the road soon and meet up with Dave in 50 miles or so. My chest stitches come out on Thursday and the leg ones on Saturday so I should be back on the bike this weekend. Until then I'll try to enjoy the passing countryside and work on my jokes. Hope everyone is having a great summer, and I PROMISE to update more frequently. Bye!

P.S. We've been on the road for one month today. Woo hoo! Less than a month to Boston, but a lot of miles between here and there.

Answer to the last Trivia Question: 31 stitches. There are 5 in my left knee, 9 in my right quad, and 17 (count 'em) on my chest. Everything is healing nicely and cleanly, so I don't foresee any more delays in my quest to get back on the bike. 10 points to KTO!

Today's Trivia Question: Before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, the Soviets had dominated the Space Race. In 1957 they successfully put the first mammal into space. What type of animal was it (5 points) and what was its name (5 points)?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What goes up...

Yesterday we were prepared for our last climb of the Rockie Mountains. After leaving Howard we had 3,000 feet to climb gradually over 30 or 40 miles. It was beautiful country with the Rocky Mountains in the back ground providing a sense of completion of a major part of our ride and the downhill towards Kansas representing our next challenge.

Turns out our next challenge was closer than we expected.

A couple of miles after starting our descent Dave and I encountered a particularly tricky part of the road. We saw a sharp right hand turn whose speed limit was 25 mph. We slowed down, but even 25 was far too fast; I drifted into the left hand lane.

Immediately after this turn was an ever sharper left hand turn whose limit was 20 mph. The corner was coming up fast and Dave and I knew that even 20 mph was too fast to take it. We hit both brakes as hard as we could trying to avoid the guardrail around the corner. Dave narrowly made it. I wasn't so lucky.

Just before the turn I realized I wasn't going to make it cleanly and so began as best a defensive measure as I could. Kicking my right foot out of the pedal I tried to fend off the rail with my shoe. It work for a while until my jersey caught a metal pole sticking up out of the rail. It ripped me back, I was separated from the bike, and went clean over the rail.

Dave looked back just in time to see the crash and pulled over. I popped right back up feeling fine, waved to Dave, and let him know I was doing OK. Rather calm and not in any pain I started to look for any cuts. That's went I realized I didn't escape as cleanly as I thought. I had a long, but mostly shallow cut across the middle of my chest, a good size gash in my left knee, and a "I don't even want to look at that" slice in my right quad.

Dave came running up and started to panic when he saw my leg. I told him I was fine, the wound wasn't really bleeding so I wasn't losing a ton of blood, and we flagged down a car. A very nice family allowed me to hop in and took me on the 30 minute drive to the hospital in Canon City. They were extremely friendly and really helped me out... I don't know what we would have done without them.

Dave managed to get in touch with Lauren and they picked up the bikes and met me at the hospital. I was in good spirits, still not in any pain, but nervous that the cuts were even deeper than I thought. Long story short, the people at the hospital took great care of me (I was nervous to find out that my doctor was a Cal grad and ran the 400 for the Golden Bears! Fortunately, he didn't try to sabotage the Cardinal crew team and did tremendous work....he was really a nice guy).

After getting out of the hospital we met up with our hosts for the night, Donna, a retired middle school teacher, and Jack, a biology professor at CSU Pueblo. They were so welcoming, generous, friendly, and helpful, and we had the most wonderful evening. This morning they made us breakfast (the BEST omelet I've had in a long time) and we had some great chats. Lauren drove Dave to the start and then came back to the house to pick me up. We're on the road now but Dave has had two flats already so we think something might be wrong with his rim. We're going to pick him up and probably have to head back to Pueblo to get it checked out because there are no bike stores for a while now.

That's all I have for now. I'll be off the bike for a couple of days which is a bummer. The only thing preventing me from riding is my knee because the constant flexing would tear it open again. Oh well, I'll try to be productive with my time. Thanks for reading!

P.S. If you want photographic documentation of my injuries, leave your email as a comment or send us an email as rideagainstaids2009@gmail.com. They are pretty gruesome and we wanted to keep the blog PG (but c'mon folks, I totally won the right to brag!).

Answer to the last trivia question: The Continental Divide separated the flow of water in the country. If it flows down the East side it will eventually make it to the Atlantic. If it goes down the West, its destination is the Pacific. Matty Pru jumps back into the game with a 10 more points!

Today's Trivia Question: Today's question is more of a guessing game. How many stitches did I get in total?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Turning the Rockies into a pile of rubble


Hey everyone, I'm going to keep this pretty short so I can go crash in a little bit. On the 4th of July we started in Dolores and biked up over Lizard Head Pass (10,222 feet) before descending into Telluride. Since our next day was supposed to be very long we decided to push out an extra 13 miles, all down hill, to Placerville. We then got in the cat and headed back up to Telluride for celebrations.

We met up with Brian Werner, a Couch Surfer, who graciously allowed us to stay with him. We spent all afternoon by the poolside with Brian's friends just hanging out and enjoying ourselves. The fireworks were very cool, or so I'm told. I fell asleep before the show started because I was really tired and we had a long day the next day.

In the morning we drove back to where we had stopped and got back on the bikes. The route started with a 12 mile uphill then fell 38 miles into Montrose, CO. We had a long lunch, got some supplies from Sports Authority, and got back on the road. We had two more peaks into Sapinero, but decided to push another 26 (flat) miles to Gunnison. We stayed at a campground just north of there and took our rest day the following day.

We woke up in the morning and went white water rafting with the Scenic River Tours. It was a lot of fun and at the suggestion of our guide we spent the rest of the day at a town called Crested Butte. There, we found a little coffee/book shop and spent the afternoon sitting outside, reading, and taking in the fresh mountain air. It was all very refreshing.

Today we had a 33 mile ride to Sargents, CO which is at the base of Monarch Pass. 10 miles of uphill later we were atop the Continental Divide, 11,312 feet above sea level. It is the highest point of our trip and provided a great view. The 23 miles down into Salida were the easiest of the trip... way too easy. We are about to push out another 13 miles to a campground in Howard, CO. It will make tomorrow a lot easier and there is a nice cold river to swim in! Gotta go, so see you later!

Dave and me at 11,312 feet. As always, trying to represent Stanford Crew.

Answer to the last trivia question: Partners in Health. 10 points to Christie Lehren who has grabbed a commanding control of the leader board!

Today's Trivia Question: What is the significance of the Continental Divide?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Lizard Head Pass

video

Hey everyone, sorry this video is a couple of days late, but this is our Fourth of July video post. I also just want to give a shout out to Elaine Breeden. She's in Indianapolis right now at the US National Time Trials (or whatever its called). We tried to do it in the video, but the memory card ran out before we could recordit. So good luck Elaine and hope everyone had a happy 4th!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Rolling on into Colorado

We got an early start this morning, pushing off from the hotel at 7:30. Mr. Kubiak joined us for the day and it was great to have another fresh face in the group! The day's route called for 82 miles of mostly flat riding with maybe 1,000 feet of gained elevation. 37 miles in we reached the Colorado border. Lauren and Mrs. Kubiak met us there, we posed for some pictures with the sign and headed on out.

Eight miles later we paused for a lunch break in Dove Creek. Mr. Kubiak immediately got back on the bike and headed out while Dave and I lamented how much we ate, fell into the Sprinter, and took a half hour nap. When we finally got up we rode on and finished the last 35 miles or so. Ten miles out we met up with Mr. Kubiak and finished the day. The hills were green, but rolled all the way into Dolores (luckily, we ended on the downhill!).

We arrived in Dolores, CO around 2:30. It's a small town, but is loaded with charm. The buildings are old but the people are friendly and the river that runs parallel to the town makes for a great outdoors area. The team gladly sat in the Dolores River for a half hour or so. The current was fast but we managed to find some rocks that rose slightly out of the water so we could enjoy the beautiful July sun.

We just returned from a wonderful dinner at the Dolores River Brewry and are enjoying a quiet evening around our motel/cabin that we are staying in. Tomorrow we climb 3K feet up over Lizard Head Pass (10,222 ft.) and then descend into Telluride. It's about 65 miles and the grade is gradual, but we are going to try to get an eraly start so we can see the 4th of July parade that goes through Telluride around midday.

I suppose this is officially the start to the Rocky Mountains. Since the beginning of the trip people have been wishing us luck on the Rockies, but frankly (I could possibly eat these words) I'm not that intimidated. We just spent the past 2.5 weeks in the mountains; in Nevada it was not uncommon to do three peaks in a day. So even though both major passes we go over are 10K+ (10,222 and 11,500) since our base is already 7,000-8,000 ft, I think it should be very doable. Not easy, mind you, but not devastatingly difficult. Check back in a week to see if my words hold true!

Answer to yesterday's Trivia: The Four Corners are formed by the state borders of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. With three correct answers, Sean Keeley is awarded 9 points. (Good work Little Man!)

Today's Trivia Question: 100% of the funds raised through Face AIDS are matched by private donors and thrown behind the work of what organization? (Hint: Paul Farmer founded this organization while still a medical student). (10 points)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Day off in Blanding, UT

After forgoing our rest day in Hite, today's day of rest was a welcome relief. In the past five days we've travelled several hundred miles, climbed multiple peaks (even up over 10,000 ft!), and endured some bitter heat. A day off was just what we needed.

I planned on sleeping in but old habits die hard, so when the rays of the morning sun broke through our windows at 8:30 my slumber was over. A couple cups of coffee later I was more or less ready to face the day.

Over breakfast Dave, Lauren, and I decided to drive down to the Four Corners, just over an hour outside of Blanding. We hopped in the Sprinter and drove off. It was sort of what we expected: underwhelming, touristy, and probably not on the exact location of the Four Corners. But hey, that's what we were looking for! We took some photos (check back for Dave doing a back bend, one limb in each state. We need to stretch more) and headed back to Blanding.

The afternoon was a lazy one. The TV droned for a while as we slept, read, or did whatever else we were doing. In the evening we met up with Lauren's parents. Her father had work in New Mexico so her mother flew in and they drove up to see us. Mr. Kubiak will be joining us on tomorrow's ride which is exciting- we're always looking for new riders!

That's all I have for now. Tomorrow (knock on wood) shouldn't be a bad day. 82 miles with 1000 total feet of climbing. The weather calls for clouds so it should be cool, but we hope the rain holds off. We'll pass the border into Colorado tomorrow. The 4th will be spent in Telluride which we are very excited about. But now it's getting late and I need to hop into bed for tomorrow's ride. Thanks!

Answer to yesterday's trivia: Our names are as follow: David Andrew Evans, Lauren Emma Kubiak, and Austin William Carroll Keeley. 5 points go to Christie Lehren for getting my middle name correct!

Today's trivia question: What are the four states whose borders meet at the Four Corners? (3 points for each correct state)

Ride Against AIDS (256 photos), by Dave Evans


Hey guys, we finally posted all of our photos online. Click on the link below to check them out. Enjoy!
http://www2.snapfish.com/fbshareredirect/p=13321246550673819/l=1416903020/g=1022535020/redirectURL=share/otsi=SALBBL/AlbumID=795155020/a=1022535020_1022535020/usercomments=I_xqd%20like%20to%20share%20my%20Snapfish%20photos%20with%20you.%20Once%20you%20have%20checked%20out%20my%20photos%20you%20can%20order%20prints%20and%20upload%20your%20own%20photos%20to%20share./counttext=256%20photos/COBRAND_NAME=snapfish

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Trivia Contest Standings

The ongoing contest for the title of Trivia Champion is very (maybe a little) too close. So far we have a three way tie for first:

  • The Lilley Family (10 points)
  • Matty Pru (10 points)
  • Katie O'Neill (10 points)
There's still plenty of time to get in the running for the final prize, a Face AIDS DVD and a kiss from our own David Evans (as noted before, the kiss is optional ;-) ). Keep checking back for more questions, and keep the comments coming!

Disappointment strikes but the team deals

Since Dave and I began planning our route we had been looking forward to stopping at the Hite Recreation Area on Lake Powell in Utah. Our maps spoke highly of the area and the park's website showed pictures of a beautiful lake surrounded by high red mountains. As such, we scheduled one of our off days there. Yesterday we had a short 50-mile day to get to the park and we were anxious to relax by the water and enjoy ourselves.

Sadly, things did not turn out as we wanted them to. The last 10 miles or so were difficult, not because of the terrain but because of the heat. It was near 1 PM and the temperature was over 100 degrees. When we finally pulled into Hite we found the beautiful lake we expected, but the shore was bare, facilities were few and far between, the heat was blistering, and we were constantly pestered by gnats.

Trying to make the best of the situation we headed 4 miles up the road to Farley Canyon, another point of access to Lake Powell. We swam in the lake for a little over an hour and enjoyed the sun, but soon the heat got the better of us and we headed back to Hite to find some shade.

In the evening we enjoyed a small dinner in the car and then went for a swim. After wading to waist deep water I dove forward, thinking the water would get deeper. However, the water actually got slightly shallower away from the shore and I ended up scraping the sand on bottom. I came out with some scrapes on my chest and forehead. Though unsightly, the scratches are surface deep and should be gone in a week or so.

By the time we were done swimming it was dusk. Tired, we opted to forgo pitching the tent and sleep in the van for the first time. This turned out to be another terrible decision. It was hot, uncomfortable, and didn't offer as much space as we expected. We woke in the morning not very refreshed and greeted with another 100+ degree day.

The night before we had decided to push on to our next stop, Blanding, and take our rest day there. So Dave and I were back on the bikes and pedaling. It was a 75 mile ride through extreme heat and dry weather. The first 40 miles or so were a steady uphill so both us riders were pretty spent. All in all we spent 6-7 hours in the saddle because of the constant uphill and heat.

We're currently in Blanding and will be taking our rest day here tomorrow. We might take the hour car ride to the Four Corners, so I will try to get some photos of that up. Lauren's parents are driving up from Albuquerque tomorrow and are graciously putting us up in a hotel, so thank you very much! As always, thanks for reading and check back for more soon.

Answer to the last Trivia question: beehive. 10 points to Katie O'Neil!

Answer to the BONUS question: Allosaurus. (Dinosaurs are cool).

Today's Trivia Question: What are the middle names of Dave, Lauren, and Austin? (5 points a piece)