Peddling for the People

Grace and Alan's Bike Trip Across North America


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Posted by xc2009 on August 29, 2009 at 12:14 AM Comments comments (4)
Happy Birthday to Grace! She turned 27 on August 26th. We have been hanging out, running, and riding our bikes for the past week here in San Francisco, CA. We took the Coastal Starlight train from Portland to San Fran (SF) on August 18th. We enjoyed this method of travel, the space, and the relaxed pace?we will travel via train again and recommend the experience to those curious. Upon arriving to SF we met up with Bob and Pat Siegel, a local contact of our friend John from Jasper. John from Jasper (this is where met him, although he resides in Palo Alto) set us up with his friends, Bob and Pat who live in the Mission District of San Fran. Grace and I enjoyed three nights in a private bedroom with a 1/2 bath, the company of our guests, a meal of two, and an amazing bike tour of the SF Bay waterfront, the stadium, Pat's graphic design studio, the mission district, and the Golden Gate Park. It was a great introduction to this hipster happening place. Thank you Bob and Pat. We would also like to thank Mike T. from Portland for providing us a place to stay during our last night in that wonderful Pacific North West City. On Saturday, August 22nd we met up with Todd R. and moved our stuff up this hill to his abode. He lives up a crazy high, tall, hill---about 2/3rds way up Twin Peaks. We met his two roommates, Pandora and Belle and were welcomed into their space. We have been extremely fortunate for the past 4 nights as we have had a bed, access to a shower, a kitchen, home cooked meals, the ability to cook ourselves meals, SF and all of its amenities at our finger tips, and finally, our wonderful bikes, who have endured and can now ride free of weight. We have been biking all over the city, up and down, across the Golden Gate Bridge, through the many man parks, up mountains, to Sausalito, and through Mill Valley. We have seen some amazing sunsets, drank some damn good wine, and enjoyed the company of friends. Two days ago, on August 26th, we were joined by two more Cincinnati friends, Cal and Skip Cullen (also known as Heather and Skip (Jeff)) arrived from a month of art trekking and travel across parts of the Continent. We saw their art show, helped them disassemble it, and then participated in a communal burn on the beach. You see, Cal and Skip have moved to SF, and part of their Journey was about their mid-westness, their art, and the coming to grips with this new art community they are humbling asking to be part of. Grace and I wish you two love birds the best of luck. We will be praying, thinking, and meditating on your wellbeing and success here in this part of the world. Speaking of love, I proposed to Grace the other day on her birthday. We were at the Lyon's Street stair park, on the north west side of the SF peninsula. The weather was perfect, the bay was bright and blue and shiny, the sky was happy, and the flowers were blooming pretty. I got down on one knee and asked Grace if she would marry me. I told her that I loved her, and that everything I have is hers. I placed a necklace with a glass ornament around her neck and waited for a response. She said yes and we embraced! ...kissing and crying for a moment....the odd stair-runner huffing and puffing, passing us in the back ground. It was good, it was very good. We just got back from watching another sunset and swimming in the Pacific. It was a hot day here and that was the perfect cool off. The waves were so strong and totally fun to ride. We leave for Burning Man in 2 days. Tomorrow we will acquire a vehicle, finish shopping, and hopefully pack. Then, on Sunday we will make our way to South Lake Tahoe--camping at John's family's place for the night. We plan to wakeup super early on Monday and drive in to the festival around early dawn. We have already set up our shade shelter in Golden Gate Park and I have a pretty good idea how strong the winds will be---pray for us that our structure is stable and can withstand the onslaught of the desert. I am excited for this radical self-reliance experience. We send our love back to everybody. Alan and Grace.


Posted by xc2009 on August 16, 2009 at 4:11 PM Comments comments (2)

Hello from Portland. Hello from the house hold of Marty and Cyndi. Hello from the end of our riding. This coming Tuesday, August 18th Grace and I will board a train and depart for San Francisco, California to visit her brother Paul. We will remain in the bay area until the end of August and then head to the Nevada Desert for the Burning Man Art Festival. At this point in time we will have met up with Todd R. and become a group of 3. We will have a week of "down time" between seeing Paul and leaving for the desert.


Thinking back, the last few days have been pretty relaxing. It took us three days to ride from Seattle to Portland. The ride was easy considering we had almost a week off the bikes in the Emerald City. Many many thanks to my parents and cousin Makeba for their generosity while we were in the city.


On Tuesday night of last week we stayed in Tenino, Washington at their local park. There is a great 14 mile bike trail that we took from Kelm to Tenino; both of us were more than happy to get away from the traffic and trucks of the road. The next day, Wednesday, we rode to Longview, Washington and stayed in a hotel. It has become easier to spend money as the trip as progressed. We have about 1/3 of our trip savings left and only 1 more month on the road---although Burning Man will be an expensive week and our travels to SF and then back to the Nati will eat up much of what we have left.


The next morning from Longview we crossed over the Columbia river---it was a crazy ride over the bridge to the Oregon side. Longview, as far as I can tell is a logging city. From the bridge saw ships and yards and factories filled with lumber and logs. The shoulder on the bridge was no shoulder at all, but rather a lane dedicated to wood chips, and pieces logs that had fallen off trucks. We rode a tight line on the white line, trying not to be in the lane of traffic or playing bump-ed-e- bump with the wood chips on the shoulder. Thankfully, the traffic and trucks were kind and we made it across.


We arrived in Portland by following the river to downtown where we met Cyndi and her friend Mike. The four of us then rode up to Mike's house and then to Cyndi's place a mile or so further up the road. As mentioned, the past few days have been great for relaxing. Grace bought a new pair of running shoes and has begun to get back into the sport. Last night, the four of us:Marty, Cyndi, Grace and I went to a movie and then dinner with Ben and Deirdre. Their daughter, Morgan works at the theater so the 6 of us received free tickets---awesome, yeah. The boys and Grace went to see "District 9" and Cyndi and Deirdre saw "Julie and Julia." I really enjoyed the Sci Fi flick, it was one of the more original movies I have seen lately.


Today, Grace went for a run early in the morning and then came back and slept with me for another hour before we all got up and had a wonderful breakfast. We would like to thank Marty and Cyndi for hosting us while we visit this part of the country. I believe we will go biking today and check out Portland.


We just finished watching the World Championships in track, where Usain Bolt won the 100 meter dash in a record time of 9.56 seconds.




Posted by xc2009 on August 8, 2009 at 1:31 PM Comments comments (2)

Hello from Seattle. We arrived yesterday afternoon and met my cousin Makeba at her apartment.  Yesterday, we rode from Port Angeles to Bainbridge Island and caught our third ferry of the trip, this last one across the Puget Sound. I am so glad that we are here. No more riding for at least 5 days, maybe even longer if we decided to take a train south to Portland….but this is just our frustration and tiredness of the road talking. I am sure after a few days of rest we will be ready to ride again.


The day before yesterday, August 6th, we took a ferry from Victoria, BC to Port Angeles and met a couple (Marty and Cindy) who were also taking a bike vacation. We chatted and discussed life on the road and by the end of the conversation they had invited us to stay with them in Portland. Sweet, we thought. Then yesterday, while riding and feeling extremely worn out (both of us just wanting to not be doing what we were doing) Marty and Cindy drove past us in their car and pulled over on the side of the road. A few miles before, Grace and I talked about stopping at the next restaurant for a sandwich because it was noon and we had not eaten since 7ish am. When Cindy and Marty got out of their car, they offered us sandwiches, fruit, cheese strings, and drinks. Our prayers had been answered. Thank you.


Today, August 8, 2009, my parents arrive in Seattle to visit with Grace and I and see Makeba and her husband Aaron. We will spend the next few days enjoying, relaxing, and seeing the sights in Emerald city. I am sure my mother has a few ideas about she would like to do. Grace and I would like to do a wine tasting, maybe go to a sports event, walk around the city, and perhaps take a day trip to the Olympic peninsula.


Last night, Keba treated us to dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant and then went to a local watering hole and met up with two of her friends Beca and Jason. Grace and I slept so so (not a typo) well last night. Neither of us can remember the last time we slept in until 9 ish am. I think my parent’s flight will be late arriving.


Grace and I are overjoyed with our progress…and relived to be in Seattle with family. We would like to thank everybody who has helped us make it this far, we could not have done it without you.


Of life, not riding on for a moment.



Posted by xc2009 on August 3, 2009 at 7:56 PM Comments comments (0)

We have seen water from the PacificOcean.



We have made it.



All the way across.



Now what?



Down the coast to visit friends and family....



The quest west has been completed, but the journey continues.



Pictures will be up loaded in Seattle.



We endured the heat, the hills, the hotair blasting up at us as we peddled down inclines. Our route throughthe Frazier Canyon was determined by the forest fires to the west inWhistler, BC. We were almost run over a few times traveling this route. Yes, lucky to be here typing this...



We will stay in Vancouver for a few evenings and we are currently at a Hostel in down town. I would to check out the University of BC tomorrow, maybe go to the local art museum (depends how much money they would like). We will take a ferry to Victoria for a few nights before catching another ferry to Seattle to see Makeba and Aaron. I believe my parents will fly out and spend 4 nights with us in the city, I think...



We are now on Holiday, not that we werenot on Holiday before...






Almost to the Pacific!

Posted by xc2009 on July 30, 2009 at 4:38 PM Comments comments (1)

Day 81

Kamloops, British Columbia.

The north is hotter than we expected. This week temperatures have been record breaking. Last night the both of us were pretty miserable lying in the tent waiting for the sweltering air to cool. This morning we woke up at 5 am and were riding by 5:30 am. We have arrived in the city around 1:00. This is the first city we have been in since Calgary, Alberta. Due to the heat, we will indulge in a hotel or motel for tonight. It is much easier to live in a tent when the air is not boiling…


Since leaving Banff we have been overly impressed with the views and vistas. The Canadian Rockies are way beautiful. The Ice Field Highway, leading from Banff to Jasper was perhaps the best scenery we have encountered so far. From Jasper to Kamloops, I would say that the Town of Blue River was my favorite. Grace and I arrived before noon, and found a Summer Shangri-La waiting. Behind the main street, tucked away from the traffic of the main road, there is a public park with a high dive platform (6 meters), a diving board, a beach, 3 rafts located at various distances from the shore, and some really cool drillers that we hung out with for the afternoon. We drank some beer, went swimming, jumped off the platform, and then camped near the edge of the park that night. I think our tan lines evened out a bit that day---I feel my shoulders.

We plan to reach Vancouver in 3 days.


Wow. Yeah, east to west quest almost completed! We have been trying to get in touch with Harvey Lewis to get a contact number, but have had no success. While in Malta, Montana, we met a lady who gave us her contact info and suggested that we stay with her---we will look her up.


Our adventure will turn more holidayish upon our arrival to the Pacific. The question is: what shall we do with our time??? Travel down the coast, see folks, visit cities and Universities, see the sites, and take in the local cuisine (Grace can not wait to have some Japanese food). We will have a month until we need to meet Todd in San Francisco. We may even take a train or bus as far south as LA to see Paul, Grace’s brother. Our funds have been holding up, although I am sure we will begin to spend a bit more on luxuries now that we are almost finished with the bulk of the bike riding. We may ride as far south as Northern California, not sure yet.


We would like to thank the lovely folks who fed us a second dinner then night we stayed in the Jonas Creek Camp ground along the Ice Field Parkway. The steak, potatoes, and veggies, along with the homemade wine were great.

While in Jasper we splurged and stayed in our 5th hotel/motel in the downtown area. We try not to complain---especially when we have a roof over our heads, but this place did not have climate control, and we would have been better off saying in a camp ground---this was our introduction to the north heat currently roasting Canada.

To the coast!


Posted by xc2009 on July 23, 2009 at 8:01 PM Comments comments (0)

Hello from Banff, Alberta, Canada….Day 74


The boarder guard looked at us bit funny as we rode our bikes to the gate.

Customs Agent: How long will you be staying?

Alan and Grace: 16- 20 days.

Customs Agent: “What is the purpose of your visit?

Alan and grace: Holiday on bikes.

Customs Agent: What are you jobs?

Alan: I use to be a teacher, swim coach, and server.

Grace: I use to work at a bar.

CA: What do you mean use to be?

Alan: Well we had to quit our jobs to do this trip.

CA: Where do you plan to travel while in Canada?

Alan: Calgary, Banff, Jasper, and eventually Vancouver.

CA: Good luck.

Alan: This is our 69th day on the road.


The man handed us our passports back and we were in! Three days later, were in Calgary!

We got wind slammed on the way to the Canadian New West. Grace was a bit upset given the fact that we were at the mountains and now we were back on the plains facing a tough head wind.

When we arrived in Calgary we made our way to the Bow Cycle Bike shop on the North West part of town to purchase a pump a set of brakes, and a few cartages of compressed air. Outside the store I gave the old pump to the first person I saw. This transaction eventually produced a place to camp, an excellent dinner, breakfast, and company the next morning as we rode out of the city and into the mountains.

Thank you Peter, Leona, Sara, Leah, and Josh for all the accommodations, conversation, and luxuries. Peter, the guy we gave the pump to, suggested a few camp grounds, pointed us in the direction of a grocery store, and then came back for a third time to offer us a place to stay in his back yard. It was a good thing that we gave him our website, because he went home and checked out it and then decided to come find us and propose that his backyard could serve as our tent spot for the evening.

The next night, July 21st we spent in Canmore, just outside of the National Forest, it was so so, given the fact that the campground was right in between two highways. When we arrived in Banff, we headed straight for a local coffee and bread shop that Leona had suggested. There, we met Keith, a bike rep for rocky Mountain Bicycles. Since then we have hiking, canoeing, sleeping, and eating with Keith and his wife Leslie in this awesome mountain town of Banff. Canadians are way cool and hospitable.

We will hit the road again tomorrow morning and continue up the park way, enjoying the scenery all the way.

Day 67 in East Glacier

Posted by xc2009 on July 16, 2009 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (2)

We are living large in East Glacier, MT while staying with Jo and Sam (contacts we made through other cyclists).  Check out our photos---finally a few more have been added since Chicago.  More to come.  Yeah, the Rockies are hear!  Finally no more flatness.



In my head, on repeat.... a poem...




The Rockies emerged from the clouds


As the flatness ended and the upities began


we have been waiting for our minds to expand


to welcome these colossal structures of grand


into this next level we peadle and ride


Grace and I and the mountains side by side by side


I looked at her said “this is for you, will you be mine?”


she simply smiled as the sun shined.








65 days in the making

Posted by xc2009 on July 14, 2009 at 10:08 PM Comments comments (0)

We are tired. We have been riding everyday since we left Stillwater MN...about 18 days straight. We are currently in Shelby, Montana staying at our 4th motel for the entire trip. We will ride to Glacier National Park (about 70 miles) tomorrow and stay with a warm showers . org contact for a few days before heading into Canada. Hopefully we will feel recovered enough for a hike in Glacier.



We are road worn. The wind has been relentless. In the last 3 out of 4 days the wind has been in our faces. We knew this would happen. Bring on the mountains, just to get us out of the plains.



A few nights ago we stayed in Glasgow Montana with 5 other bikers. Thank you Karen and Jim for feeding all of us and giving us a soft patch of grass for the tents. Karen, your caramel cinnamon buns are the best I have ever had.

We are still traveling with Andrew, but have lost the other folks we were with when we entered this overly grand state of Montana. It has been fun.


Here is a poem I wrote in my head while the wind was wit us.



We rode with the divine presence of wind our way,

On our backs it stayed,

Hurling us further and faster into the frey.

Our bikes and the smooth rode danced,

As we pedaled and played

Across this vast continent

And into the new western day.


Grace and I would like to give a special shout out and thank you to Skyline Chili and Keystone Bar. We miss both of you and hope that all is well. Ron, if you are still reading this, please pass on the message to the Skyline crew.



Day 58, July 7th

Posted by xc2009 on July 7, 2009 at 4:58 PM Comments comments (1)

Wow. We are in Williston ND. So much has happened since our last communication. Since Walker MI we have ridden due west on route 2---almost through the entire state of ND, about 400 miles. We have picked up and are riding with 2 other people, both heading west towards Seattle, WA on route 2. A 17 year old female, Laurie and a 28 year old male; both of them were traveling by them selves. We are now a posse of four.


I am not sure if we thanked Rita and Courtney, a mother and daughter who provided Grace and I with a meal, shower, and place to stay in Pine City, MI. Thank you.


I got a new back tire in Bemidji, MI and had 4 flippin flats since! What the heck? Riding out of Bemidji I got my second flat of the trip….right after we purchased the new tire. I rode on low air until we reached East Fork MI. There we stayed in our second hotel and visited a bike shop on the way out of town the next day. We needed a few extra tubes. We also purchased some compressed air. About 5 miles out of town I got another flat. After inspecting the tire, tube, and rim, we concluded that the inside tape that goes between the metal rim and the tube was the culprit. Part of the tape has slid off to the side, exposing a hole in the rim where a spoke connects. Thus, the spoke rubbed against the tube causing it to puncture. We also tried to use our new compressed air at this time but could not figure it out---we should have asked for a demonstration at the shop.


Needless to say, we were extremely frustrated. We rode back to the bike shop for some professional help. Even the bike dudes had trouble figuring out how to use the compressed air---but one of them, Pat eventually figured it out. I had a new strip of tape put on my wheel and Terry Knudson –the owner and/or manager of the shop gave us a few extra air cartridges----all for free. Yeah.


Thank you Outdoor Adventure Ski and Bike Shop in Grand Fork, ND--- you guys are awesome!


The next day I got another flat, but it was on a tube that had been patched twice. We put in a new tube and all has been grand since. That night, July 3rd we stayed in Turtle River State Park with a bunch of weekend campers. The staff was kind of over bearing as were tracked down and asked to pay 5 more dollars on top of the 10 we originally paid because we camped closer to the showers….with the RV’s and not in the tent area.


On the 4th of July we spent the night in Devil’s Lake behind a maintenance shed in Roosevelt Park. The fire works were loud, but we did not watch them.


On the 5th we rode 120 miles; a new record for mileage in a day. We meet Laurie, the 17 year old just outside of Minot, ND. We traveled with her all of the next day at a reduced pace….Grace and I had to adapt to having another person with us. We are not sure how long we will travel with her as we head west.


Last night, on the 6th of July we met Andrew, the 28 year old male and he join up with us. Again, we are not sure how long we will travel with these two other folks, but for now it is all good. Also, last night we camped next to a few concrete workers who offered us a few beers and then some coffee this morning. Thanks so much Mike and Jamie, you guys made our night.


Tonight we hope to stay here in Williston, ND. When Grace and I were in Erskin, MI at a gas station, an older gentleman named Mark came up to us and offered his place to stay if we made it to Williston. We will contact him soon. The only catch is that we are now 4, not 2 people. I hope we do not appear to be taking too much or making assumptions about his generosity…

Anyway---Life is good. We got rained on a little bit last night and this morning, but the clouds have cleared and the sun is shining.



Day 51 June 30th

Posted by xc2009 on June 30, 2009 at 8:35 PM Comments comments (2)

We are in Walker, MN. Two days Rita and her daughter Courtney open up their home to us in Pine City. We were offered the place to stay while eating a mint chocolate chip blizzard and asking the local folks if they knew of a campground near by.

Thank you for the meal, shower, and roof.


Last night we stayed in Brainerd, MN at the trail head to the Paul Banyan state trail. We camped in a park by the Mississippi and had some great coffee and conversation at the Moon Café, where we met Tony and Adam. We road all day on the Paul Bunyan trail. Yeah, no cars to contend?.


The last 2 and ½ days have been crazy windy. It seems as though we have been riding into the wind at every turn?this is hard. It feels like riding up hill with a flat all day. The weather has been cloudy, but the temperate is perfect.


We would also like to thank Dave of Trails RV Park in Walker---he is letting us stay for free and use his computer to post this blog. Totally nice guy.

We are north!