By Cynthia McKinney
Days 12 through 18, Bike4Peace
Photos by Scott
BLANDING, UTAH -- (Wed., Aug. 11) Well, it was in Milford, Utah that our fellow bike traveler, Paul Stutzman, left us. It was a particularly sad moment for me because Paul and I are carrying with us the memories of lost loved ones: for him, it's his wife, died of cancer--misdiagnosed and caught too late to save her; for me it's my father. Paul has a unique story that can be found on his blog (http://www.hikingthrough.com/) and in his book of the same name, "Hiking Through." So devastated by what happened to his wife, Paul went for a hike--literally, that lasted three years. Paul quit his job (he describes himself as a successful businessman) and went hiking--hiking through his pain and the devastation accompanying the loss of a loving wife of more than 30 years. After hiking, then Paul decided to cross the United States from Washington State to Florida.
Now, how I happened on Paul was this. I saw a man on a bike going UP Carson's Pass in the direction opposite of Bike4Peace. Now, this would have stuck out in my mind because I've got so many people telling me that I'm crazy to even attempt to do something like this--and there I saw on the side of the road on a slow roll, a man making an incredible bicycle climb. Carson's Pass (8,653 feet) is part of the annual race known as the "Death Ride," consisting of three mountain passes. When we ran into him again, I invited him to join us and volunteered to "sag" for him since he had a load--not as much as ours, but still, he was carrying a lot for such a long ride. It was in Middlegate, Nevada that Paul told me his story. In Baker, our last stop in Nevada, he told me to cry as much as I need to in order to deal with own my grief. I've taken him up on that. According to his blog, Paul landed in Blanding, Utah this morning and our riders will arrive in Blanding this afternoon!!!! It would really do my soul good to visit with him again. Two grieving souls connected by the back roads of America.
You can read how Paul describes his encounter with Bike4Peace on his blog here: http://www.hikingthrough.com/paulsblog.
Paul left Bike4Peace in Milford, Utah, but from Baker, Nevada on the way there, we met a couple--practically newlyweds--riding horseback across the country!!!! The wife was from Connecticut and the husband was there, right along with her and the mule and the horses and the hay, helping his wife fulfill her dream of crossing the country on horseback for charity. They are raising money along their way for the HeartsUpRanch ( http://www.heartsupranch.com/ ) as they stop and tell their story in the small towns that dot across our country. Our good deed for the day was to provide water for the horses because it was hot out there in that Nevada/Utah desert!!! So, we went and got the water and then placed it in ten-mile intervals so the horses could get watered as they approached town. We also made sure that the water purifier that they had ordered was put on top of the hay outside the City/County building!
Well, I was still smarting from my fall and saddle issues and then decided that the best role for me under the circumstances was to provide support for the serious riders who were averaging 85-90 mile days!!!! So, Yaney and I do that now, primarily, and then we ride when we can. I got back on the bike too soon before my "saddle" issues were resolved and re-injured myself!!!! So, I'm learning the hard way on that! I do appreciate the suggestions on that. Bottom Line: I can't wait to get back on the bike to do as much as I can do without re-injuring myself, but I'm not going to rush it. Yaney and I rode a wonderful bike path in Cedar City, Utah that took us up to the big mountain. That's when I re-injured myself; so I sit now in Blanding, our last stop in Utah, on the path toward healing!
Yaney and I stopped in Panguitch, Utah at the pharmacy because I was so uncomfortable after our Cedar City ride. I bought "Chamois Butter," "Butt Paste," Polysporin, Ibuprofen, and acetaminophen!!!! Fortunately for me, the pharmacist himself had the same issue!!!!!! He had taken some Boy Scouts on a 15 mile ride and he said he had the exact same terrible experience. To which I responded, "I didn't think that happened to men." To which he responded, "Oh boy!!" Somehow, I felt better that this particular affliction wasn't just for me!!! We both laughed as he rang up my purchases and he wished me good luck as I walked away. I'm just about out of Polysporin now, but I do feel sooooooooo much better!!!
Yaney and I narrowed my problem down to a pair of ill-fitting bike pants and she thinks I should also adjust my bike seat just a tad more. So, I'll let Vernon or one of the bikers do that on tomorrow, which is a rest day for everyone. In Blanding.
Day Twelve - Milford, UT - We ate Chinese tonight. Amazing. Authentic Chinese food can be had in all of these small towns!!!
Day Thirteen - Cedar City, UT - We rented a cabin at the Kampground of America and IT WAS FULL!!! There are so many RV's! Vernon says that bikers have to beware the RV drivers because the vehicles are so big, but only a regular driver's license in required. And you know how much respect drivers give to bicyclists!! Good thing these back roads are not the ones well-traveled by car!
Day Fourteen - We stayed in Cedar City for a rest day and Annie selected a movie for us to watch: Get Smart! Funny!
Day Fifteen - Tropic, Utah - The pure, natural beauty of Utah is becoming very apparent. If you've only seen Salt Lake City, you've not seen Utah. If you've visited Sundance--as I did when the documentary American Blackout debuted--then you've not really seen Utah. The splendor of nature erupts before you in splashes of a color wheel as the earth changes color from deep, deep ochre to brown to sand to purple! Truly amazing.
Day Sixteen - Hanksville, UT - We camped out and had fun.
Day Seventeen - Hite, UT - We camped out at Glen Canyon. Ohhhhhh. This is an absolute must for everyone. Gosh, it kinda reinforces the idea that the earth always wins--in the end, despite all the damage that humans have done to her, in all her splendor, I have no doubt that the earth will win this one. I also learned the importance of Thermarest. Our campspot was very rocky, but sleeping on the Thermarest was like sleeping on my aunt's Tempurpedic mattress!!! Well, almost!!!
Day Eighteen - Blanding, UT - I set my alarm for 3:30 this morning because the bikers are putting in a 74-mile day and they wanted to leave early. I've become the DJ of sorts. While in Glen Canyon, I hooked up my dad's iPhone (iPod), opened the car doors, and let the music blast! What a way to party!!! I played Marvin Gaye, "What's Going On" to remind us all of why we're out here in the first place and then ended with Michael Jackson's "Earth Song" and "Man in the Mirror." Then, it was YeYo's turn and he played some really great conscious rap songs. I invited Annie to let us hook up her iPod, but she preferred to listen to our music. The bikers finally made it off at about 5:00 this morning. While they prepared for their departure, I played James Brown and the J.B.'s. Brown calls out to the J.B.'s to play in the key of F--and tell him what that means. One of the J.B.'s shouts back: FREEDOM! And with that, Day Eighteen of Bike4Peace begins.
I'm about to double back in the car and check on the bikers. It's hot out there and there are no services for the entire 74 miles of their ride. Yaney and I have stocked up on water for them and food.
So, there you have it. Grief; Healing; Pain; A Shared Glance, Common Experience, and a Laugh; A Good Deed; Utah the Beautiful; Glen Canyon; Thermarest; and James Brown: That's what it means to Bike in the Key of F: FREEDOM!
I thank the Peace Tree Juice Cafe for allowing me to spend hours on their computer so that I could send this message out to you today.
Also, here's the press release that went out earlier from Vernon.
If you are so inclined to help us, please go to the Bike4Peace website and make a donation. We really need your help. This experience is way more expensive than any of us expected--even as we pare expenses, share everything, and live modestly. I hope you will send us what you can on the bike4peace donate page: http://b4p.bbnow.org/donate.php.
Contact: Vernon Huffman, Co-Founder Bike4Peace