Sunday, October 28, 2007
Ok rock stars,
The bike trip movie has finally been finished, printed to numerous DVDs, and semi-successfully loaded up onto google video. It turned out quite nicely, so if you want to really see what the trip was all about, the movie will do better than the blog did (or at least suppliment your understanding).
Now, we have a big stack of DVDs here and I would highly suggest that if you have any feasable way of getting a DVD from J, R, or myself, that you do so and watch the movie on DVD. We have plenty of copies, and can easily make more, so just ask one of us. The quality of the DVDs is quite high and the quality of the web videos is somewhat low. But, if you are impatient or probably won't get around to getting a hard-copy DVD, here are the videos:
Chapter 0 (Opening)
Also, it appears that the voting audience has decided that they wanted me to do a real full-blown eric-blog. Well, I'm still thinking about it. I'll let you know...
Thursday, September 13, 2007
For those who doubt the the Prius is indeed larger on the inside than on the outside, I present startling new evidence.
On the ride back from Rhode Island, we fit three people (me, Rachael and Jason) in the car as well as both bikes and all our gear (and some of R's luggage) for the ride back to DC. Amazing.
Monday, September 10, 2007
so for those of you who love statistics and rankings, here is a breakdown of the trip.
Total Miles: 4195 (lets call it 4200 for argument's sake)
Total days of trip: 59
Total days riding: 54
Total time riding: 354 hours 11 minutes
States visited: 15
Canadian provinces visited: 2
Average miles per day: 77.7 miles/day
Average hours biked per day: 6.55 hours
Average speed: 11.85 mph
Longest day: 138 miles (the last day, into RI)
Shortest day: 35 miles (going up Logan Pass in Glacier Park)
Fastest speed (eric's bike): 45 mph
Best roads (state): Illinois
Worst roads (area): Buffalo, NY and surroundings
Bike Breakdown (this is a pun):
Flat tires (total): 7
Broken Spokes: 7 (all on Jason's bike, rear wheel, non-drive side)
Rear Derailleur Falling apart: 1 (Jason's bike)
Loose pedal bearing: 1 (Eric's bike)
Lost objects: 1 each East German Handkerchief (Jason), 1 each blue high-tech underwear (Eric)
Objects taken away by Canada (or "surrendered to the crown", as they say): 1 pepper spray "dog repellent"
The costs below reflect the money I actually spent during the trip, but include everything during that time. They do not include the cost of my bike or the camping gear (fairly considerable), which I already owned. This is just the money that I spent, and doesn't include Jason's expenses.
Cash Spent: $1400
Credit Card Purchases: $2100
Plane Ticket: $300
Total Expenditure: $3800
This is pretty good, considering that my original estimate was $5000.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
I could just abandon it as it is - it was meant as a way to tell people about my exploits on the bike trip, and it has served that purpose, but that is essentially over.
I could keep it going as a bike touring blog, discussing biking, future (shorter) bike trips I take, bike gear/technology, camping, etc. If I went this way, it would be updated more infrequently than during the trip, since I really would not have tons of relevant stuff to talk about.
Or I could turn it into "eric's blog", since I don't have a blog. In this case, it would become only marginally about biking, and mostly about books, video games, pirates, and monkeys (probably).
So, let the people decide! Vote in the sidebar on the right!
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
The forces all seemed to be alligned there. Sony just did a $100 price drop (but this isn't as benign as it sounds: After announcing a $100 price drop (to $500) for the 60GB model and introducing a new 80GB model (at $600), Sony subtly stated that they would be phasing out (read: discontinuing) the $500 60GB model - meaning that soon the only model available will once again be $600). My Xbox 360/PS3 vascillation has more recently been leaning more towards PS3, more due to my annoyance with Microsoft than affinity for Sony. Particularly, Microsoft's persistance in charging $50/year to play online and their attempt to expand this "service" to computers. Also, Sony seems to earnestly want to make the PS3 a multimedia box, whereas the Xbox seems to be doing the bare minimum. Also, the current deal of getting 8 Blue-Ray movies free with the system (5 from the Blue-Ray consortium and 3 from amazon), which is worth about $200, pushed it over the edge.
So soon I'll have a PS3. And, yes, you can come over and play.
Well, we did it (essentially). We performed a series of absurd tasks and are now in RI. We were supposed to come in later today, but made a last minute decision yesterday at lunch to turn 2 days of biking into one super-long day. So yesterday we got on the road late (9 AM, thanks to late biking the days before), did one of the hilliest days yet (curses to Central Conneticut), finished 137 miles, and got in at 11:30 PM. That will probably stand as the greatest bike feat for a while.
So all we have left to do today is to go to the ocean, which around here is essentially everywhere.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Afterwards, we will probably head straight for RI, but I'm just not sure right now.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Earlier in the week we bought a bag of 6 bagels for breakfast the next day. We decided that the bagels, which were in a sealed bag inside another bag would be ok out on the picnic table overnight. But in the morning there were gone. We both secretly suspected that the other person had eaten them in the nighttime and searched through our bag (in case we accidentally put them away) and all around our camp. But we couldn't find any trace of them. In the end we decided to eat junk snacks for breakfast. While eating, Jason spied a plastic bag about 150 feet away. There were our bagels (or at least 4 of them). I guess some animal had dragged them 150 feet then ate 2 of the 6 bagels. Jason ate another 2, but I abstained from the cursed, or at least suspicious, bagels.
Also, here is a picture of some food that we did not eat.
1. Stop at Thwing to buy Case sticker for bike. Find out that Case now has a new logo. Or perhaps I should say, "a new new logo". The new logo is not the bent paper clip/fat man carrying a surfboard that appeared around 2003. No, there is an even newer logo now that everything in the school has finally been covered with the old new logo. For those keeping score at home, the new new logo is a stylized version of the old sunset logo. Anyway, I at least got my Case sticker really cheap since it had the old new logo on it.
2. Pose in front of my old building, Kent Hale Smith.
3. Go to Tommy's and perform my usual ritual. This includes putting my name on the list along with the note "in Mac's", then go next door to Mac's and buy current issues of Adbusters and Philosophy Now magazines. After getting seated, order coffee shake, JJ with some grilled chicken "cut up and thrown in there" (with associated hand motion), and order of fries.
There is just something extra fun about doing the same familiar stuff while on a cross-country bike trip.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
So we have been meandering around Minnesotta and Iowa, following the river (the Mississippi). Iowa is very hilly. Remember this. I mean very hilly. And wet. Don't forget.
We are in Iowa today, but will be in Illinois tomorrow. After another 50 miles south, we will make a left turn in Muscatine and cruise straight east. No more messing around. Expect Illonois and Indiana to fall in the next 5 or 6 days.
We have learned a lot about food, and have beccome experts on what to buy and eat from gas stations. Some things of importance:
-In the Iowa area, there is a tendency to have a fixed price (usually just over a dollar) for fountain drinks. Ever wonder who drinks the 44 oz sodas? I do. And sometimes I get a refill (my largest soda hit was 64 oz).
-Jason found one gas station where he got a 44 oz milkshake. I'll leave you to ponder that one. And, amazingly, he drank the whole thing.
-Hot dogs are very cheap. At one gas station, they had a deal where you get a 32 oz fountain drink and 3 hot dogs for 2 dollars. And they had Sobe Energy on tap, and fixings for the hot dogs. We immediately cancelled our dinner plans.
-Little Debbie "Oatmeal Cream Pies" cost $1.29 for a dozen. Thats just over 10 cents each! And the first ingredient is not oatmeal, but high fructose corn syrup - it used to be a sweetener, but is now a food.
As this post seems to attest, we have mostly hit rock bottom as far as food is concerned. Cooking is going down, high fructose corn syrup is on the rise.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
We have no been posting alot recently, but here goes a quick update:
The last week of riding was very nice, since we have actually had to slow down in order not to get into Minneapolis too soon. We have gotten to the point where going 70 miles makes for an easy day, so we generally get in around 3 PM and sit around.
I am right now in Orlando, as we are all on our vacation from vacation. Brian got married yesterday, and Jason and I will continue where we left off tommorow.
And now I have to go...
Monday, July 30, 2007
Also, why isn't the land flat yet?
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
We have been on the road for 17 days now and here is the tally of bike repairs needed:
Jason Rear Tire (Bent wire in tire): patched
Jason Rear Tire (Screw in tire): patched - needed 2 patches
Eric Front Tire (Staple in tire): patched
Jason derailleur jockey gear fell off on road: pieces gathered, reassembled, later went to bike shop to get it loctited
Eric grinding in drivetrain: brought to bike shop, crankset reassembled (retightened)
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
anybody who thinks we have been moving quickly so far is in for a surprise. We have been going up and down mountains, touring through beautiful places. We have gone north, east, south, west, north, just rolling around visiting every neat thing in the area. Well, all that is changing now.
We are now headed express across the plains, straight as an arrow, East. And we plan on making some good time. So hold on to your hats for the section I like to call Minnesota Express. I have a date with a plane on August 9, and I have no interest in missing it.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Also, Jason has switched over and will now do chocolate milk or shakes with me.
But today we are in Whitefish, Montana, just outside of Glacier National Park, and we stopped at another bike shop, since my drivetrain had been making increasing amounts of noise (new, intermittent clicks started to appear 2 days ago, and have gotten stronger with time). The guy said he was pretty sure it was due to a loose crankset. He also measured my chain and said that it didn't seem too worn to him. I had him disassemble/regrease the crankset and change the chain, since this was due soon. In the end, the reassembly of the pedal bearing got rid of all the noise, and the new chain doesn't slip at all on the existing sprockets, so the chain was not too worn either. 2 points for eric.
Is the Northwest so "green" that even the rural folk buy Priuses? Is there a multi-state tax incentive? Are they useful for farm work in some unknown way?
Monday, July 16, 2007
After riding for hours in the hot sun, I have found that a big container of chocolate milk really hits the spot. No joke. It sounds like it would be awful, but it combines the two things I crave after a long ride: water and fat (and has some sugar to boot).
So I'm thinking that I should get the milk industry to pay me to try to break them into the sports drink business - a chocolate milk drink to compete with gatorade. Jason has suggested the name: "Udder Energy".
Thursday, July 12, 2007
We have now gone over Washington Pass (elevation 5,477 ft) in blaring heat during the hottest day on record. We were sustained most of the way by icy cold (literally) water from streams running down the mountains. After filtering the water, it was freezing cold and delicious. During the hottest part of the day, with no shade, thin air, and a 4 MPH pace, we decided for safety (and sanity) sake to hide from the sun under a bridge next to a creek. The creeks there were amazingly cold - even biking past one would lower the air temperature about 20 degrees. After a few hour break (and a dive into the water - cold!) we got back and finished the ascent, in perfect time to coast down 18 miles of downhill (only a few very short bits of pedaling). Now that was fun.
Before this we had been climbing up through the Cascades, which are monsterously beautiful (we would post pictures, but the computer at this library doesn't permit it). We have been camping every night and cooking our own food except last night when we treated ourselves to a nice room and meals.
So far we are both a bit beat up physically, but in good spirits (except for the deathly heat). The equipment is all working fairly well - I have a sqeak in my drivetrain somewhere and jason is having some trouble getting a good hand position due to the geometry of his bike. Thus far things are looking good. We have exceeded our planned distance each day so far, and have conquered (I believe that this is the appropriate word) the largest ascent of the trip. We have three more ascents to do - one a day for the next three days (we will go and do the next one right after finishing up here on the Internet), and a fourth ascent in about a week. After that it should be smoother sailing.
Bottom line: It is hot, but we're doing fine.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Friday, July 6, 2007
But I suddenly felt a bit better when, on the ride home, I saw a car with a bumper sticker that said, "Not All Who Wander Are Lost". A tremendous phrase that so well describes my thoughts about the trip, I had half a mind to completely change the name of the blog (but I won't, since the funnier current title is more my style). Not all who wander are lost, but there are few that seem to know the difference.
The reactions that people give when you talk about biking across the country are widely varying. Some people simply look at you blankly, clearly cannot compute this information, and say, "Wow, you're crazy.", just as if you had announced that you were running for King of the Moon on the '08 elections. There are also some people who "get it". You can immediately tell from their eyes and their comments. But the majority of people seem to fall into another category: apathetic. These folks don't understand the motivation for such a journey, consider it a waste of time and money, and are not in any way impressed by it (not that the point is to impress people - it's just that they don't see it as any sort of challenge, as if you planned on spending nine weeks buying beer and throwing it out of car windows).
And this has been my problem at work: unimaginative bureaucrats that view this trip as an odd request (abnormal = bad) rather than as a personal challenge. They feel that approving this kind of thing would be a big favor, and see no value in it. Well, I didn't set out to do this as a passing fancy - I am doing it because it is a challenge, to see if I can, to meet the people and places of America, and to come back a better, stronger person. As Kennedy said of the journey to the moon:
"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win."
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
So, I named this blog "Eating the Elphant" for a few reasons. As the quote at the top of the page says, "Biking across the country is like eating an elephant - you just do one little bite at a time." I think this is an appropriate description of the process, and one that everyone can understand. Secondly, I have learned that pioneers heading west in wagon trains spoke of "Seeing the Elephant" - this is what it was called when someone gave up, turned around, and headed back east. Well, I don't plan on getting spooked by that elephant: in fact, I am intent on slowly devouring it. So this blog, assuming that I keep it updated, will be the public log of my gastronomical journey while eating that elephant.
And a few words about what makes a trip like this happen. Certainly, it has a high cost in terms of both money and time. Jason is taking a leave-of-absence and will simply not be paid for the duration of the trip. I had to quit my job and get a new one in order to do this trip. Why? Well, the first episode of project pedal really has it down (if you are able to watch this, I think you should). As he says, its about attempting something that you have a very real chance of failing, and slowly, over time, proving yourself wrong.
Now for some nuts and bolts. We fly out to Seattle Saturday morning. From there we head north to Anacortes, then straight east. We will be following the Northern Tier route most of the way, but will diverge somewhere around Ithica to head southeast through Conneticut into Rhode Island. We have full camping gear and plan on mostly camping and occasionally staying with the friends, friends of friends, and uncles of friend's co-workers that we have along the route. As for food, we plan on doing a lot of cooking on our own.
Monday, July 2, 2007
Many of you know my policy on blogs. Some of you may not. My policy is that 99.4% percent of blogs are made by jerks who have nothing of value to say and are simply polluting the already polluted streams of the Internet with shouts of "Me! I'm important! Listen to what I have to say!". So, despite the "encouragers" who have said, "Eric, you should have a blog - if I got really bored, I might read it and that would be mildly entertaining", I have until this point stayed blog-free. But at least for the next 9 weeks, I will have something interesting to talk about and the popular opinion has spoken ("Hey, are you going to have a blog or something for your trip?").
So here it is: The Cross-Country Bike Trip Blog...
In case you haven't been following the eric-related news, myself and my friend Jason are going to be biking across the country from Seattle to Rhode Island starting on July 7. We will be self-supported and camping most of the time. Posts to this blog may be intermittent and crappy, but its pretty much the only way you will be able to keep track of us, so you'll just have to deal.