Monday, July 25, 2011


Normally, I give a brief update on the happenings of the past couple of days, but let's I'm sure that most of you have checked out the rider's blogs which I am sure sufficiently cover the details of the days. So I'll just share what's been going on inside this little noggin of mine while I spend hours on a bicycle.

As the summer grows to a close, I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out what my next step is. Obviously, the first step of going back to Georgia is easy, but what then? I have decided to delay going to graduate school for at least a semester. I know that right now I am not in the right frame of mind to go back to school right now and I remember all to clearly where that got me the first time around. I know that I need to get a job, but then I wonder if I should get a "professional" job and use my degree or just get any job that I can find. Obviously I'll make more money working in a professional setting but at the same time I don't really want to get complacent in because I am actually making a decent salary. However, working a regular job means I have regular hours and while I will eventually have to face the reality of a regular work schedule it is something I would like to delay as long as possible. It would also be beneficial to find a job with a national or regional company that I could work for while I was at grad school.

Which also brings up another issue. I originally decided to attend Georgia Southern because it was prudent choice. It was an in-state school with reasonable tuition and the opportunity to work as a graduate assistant. I realized through this summer that sometimes the prudent choice isn't always the best choice though. I wouldn't be unhappy going to Georgia Southern but at the same time I think I would be much happier going to a larger school. Meeting riders from so many big name schools has made me realize how much more opportunity there is going to those schools. I also think that I should take care to make sure that I am always happy in life. This is complex because life require sacrifices and sometimes in the midst of that sacrifice you don't always feel happy. Yet you know that the outcome on the other side is well worth the sacrifice that you endure currently and so the question remains is Georgia Southern a sacrifice with something better on the other end or does the real opportunity lie in another university? I wish I knew the answer to this. I do know though that getting into Georgia Southern and the thought of attending Georgia Southern has never really excited me and I think that is a bad sign. I think that I am going to reapply to some institutions this fall for early deadline and see what happens.

I have also consider doing more extended humanitarian projects. The two most prominent in my mind being Peace Corps and Teach for America.  Both organizations have their own pros and cons and rather than bore you with a list just know that I am carefully weighing them.

The other lingering question that remains is what to take from this little trip of mine. On the one hand I have had amazing opportunities to meet great people, do amazing things and most importantly help those who are less fortunate than me. On the other hand I have had to deal with a huge tragedy this summer which has left an indelible mark on my life. I don't mean to say that this summer hasn't been fun because it certainly has been, but at the same time I have not been myself and I wonder how much more fun it would have been. I shouldn't dwell on such things and yet my mind often drifts there. The truth is this summer has been this summer for better or worse. I can't change it so I must accept it as it is. I must remember the times that make me smile while I deal with the things that bring tears.

I know that I have rambled quite a bit and for that I apologize. As I close I question why I have written this for everyone to read. I think maybe I am hoping for that one piece of advice that makes everything clear, so please share your wisdom.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Since Roosevelt

Since I last updated in Roosevelt about my trip, I biked into Duchesne, Utah, where we camped out at Starvation Lake. It was the first time that we had camped on our trip and overall it was a positive experience, not without kinks but nothing that kept us down. I think the best part of the entire night was the sunset. It was seriously the most beautiful sunset I think I have seen in my entire life. When I look at my photos I still have a hard time believing that they aren't photoshopped.

We got up after camping and biked in Provo, Utah. I was driving the van and I was a little bit disappointed because it would have been a wonderful ride. I did however, get to have a great van ride with Taylor, Sarah Spezia and Kristen. We stopped to do lunch at the stop of a climb by a picturesque lake surrounded by mountains.  When we stopped it was still a bit chilly and so we decided to cook some pasta with our camp stove so that the riders could have a warm meal, especially since it was a ninety-eight mile ride. The pasta was a huge hit along with the lunch spot.

Our stop in Provo also included a build day so we worked with Habitat For Humanity Utah County and did some more framing. This time it was mainly rimboard and joists for the second story. At about 2:30, I was getting bored so I decided that it would be a good idea to have an accident at the build site. Actually, I didn't decide that it just happened when a beam slipped out of my right hand and landed on top of my left middle finger, taking the first few layers of skin off of my finger. It was painful, or should I say that it is painful. Needless to say I am taking a couple of days off the bike to try and let my finger get a headstart on healing before I expose to riding again.

The team cycled to Salt Lake City today. We actually got to meet with the mayor and several city officials about how they were handling the affordable housing problem which was really awesome. 

21 more days until we get to Santa Cruz and I get to see my parents. I am having a hard time believing that the end is this close. 



My friends told me that I was crazy for doing this cross-country cycling trip. I denied it of course. While they looked at the sum of my journey, I simply looked at the individual pieces, none of which seemed unattainable. However being on this trip has open my eyes to just how crazy this journey of mine is. Actually it's not crazy it is completely absurd. The more and more I am on this trip, the more and more I realize just how absurd it is.

The crazy part of it though is it's not the biking that is the most absurd part. I have been privileged to spend the summer with 31 other amazing people. People I would have never met without this trip. I was able to change the lives of a single mom and her son both through fundraising and by spending a week working on what will become her home. It seems I get to see more of the country everyday and I just seems to get more beautiful the further I get. Oh and I live out of a Rubbermaid container.

With all that in mind though, I think the most absurd thing about this summer is the change in me. Bike & Build has stretched further than I ever thought possible. I have had to learn how to deal with people that have different viewpoints and personalities than myself. I have had to learn how cope with difficult situations. I have had to learn to be outgoing even when everything within me just wants to be left alone. However, the biggest lesson I have learned has to do with my outlook on life.

I started this summer with a plan for at least the next couple of years. Through tragedy I have discovered the flaws in my plans. The fragility of life can never be looked over and therefore I have resolved to always strive to make the best of every minute because you never know if it will be your last. Never settle this time for next time because next time may never come. Decide what is important and go achieve it. Don't hold back for tomorrow because tomorrow may never come. It's not a ticket for reckless abandon but a call to do what you can today, and every day without hesitation. It is a call to live and love to the fullest of your ability. I am not entirely sure how this translates into my personal life but I still have about 1400 miles to figure that piece of it out. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Filling in the Details

Currently I am sitting outside of McDonald's in Roosevelt, Utah, where Marc Johnson's dad bought us lunch (Thanks so much!!!). I thought that I would take this time to fill in a few more details about the past couple of days.

When we rode out of Aspen into Silt, the majority of it, was on a bike path which made for great riding. It was also downhill which made for a quick day, a number of riders were in before noon. Unfortunately, a few of the riders got caught up with some bike trouble  just outside of Aspen. It made for a longer day than I had expected but honestly I spent the vast majority of the time napping which was nice. After I got in I showered and ate at the firehouse and then spent a little time exploring the town.

Our next day was a build day in Silt where we spent the day framing exterior walls and adding plywood sheathing to the exterior. We all had a great time being back at the build site after a couple of days off from Colorado Springs. After the build day, a group of us got together to go into the next town to see the premier of Harry Potter. We had a great time and I am glad that I got to be a part of it.

On our ride from Silt to Meeker I was assigned sweep, which means I have to be the last rider in. I had a much more enjoyable time this time doing sweep. A couple of riders ran into a gentleman, who was a hunting guide and let the girls in our group shoot guns. It was a ton of fun watching them. Even though I was sweep I still got into Meeker about 2:30. The host at Meeker had arranged for us to use the Rec Building in town for free. So, of course we did some swimming which was so fun. We also played a game of water basketball. It was Sierra, Tim and I versus Brad, Kara and Nathan. My team won, but really it was just about having a good time.

Yesterday was one of the more epic days of the trip. First, we had a 112 mile day, our third century ride of the trip. Second, we crossed into Utah. Last, we met up with the Central US route. I wanted to spend a good bit of time with the other trip so I pushed myself pretty hard in the morning but by mile 75 I had exhausted myself and had to take a break in Dinosaur, Colorado. I spent about an hour in the park when I noticed a group of Central riders so I chatted with them for a bit. I found out that Brandon Biggs, one of my friends and a leader on the route was about 10 miles back so I waited a while for him to come in and then rode into Utah with him. After we got in from the ride, showered and ate, Central came over and hung out with us for bit. Brandon and I renewed our food challenge and did a blended Happy Meal Challenge. It is exactly what it sound like, a McDonald's Happy Meal including the drink placed in a blender to create a Happy Meal milkshake. I am proud to say that I owned Brandon on that challenge. We also played a huge game of ninja and an epic game of slack jaw. All in all we had a great time with Central and am so thankful that we had that opportunity.

This morning we decided to meet Central halfway to do a morning huddle when we got their. Timur one of the leaders suggested that we do a two route chalk tribute for Christina and Paige. It turned out awesome (see picture below) and it was also a great bonding experience. We did a couple of chants and played All These Things That I Have Done, pretty much our theme song for Bike & Build. It made for an amazing morning.  About to get back on the road, so take care and I'll update again soon.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Quick Update

I am going to make this quick since I am updating from my iPhone and not having a real keyboard makes typing difficult. I think the last place I updated was Aspen. Since then I drove the van one day Silt Colorado. According to the website it should have been Rifle which is the next town down. Silt was a small town but it had a good feel there was a park right across the street from the cimmunity center where we stayed. It was a great place to relax. We also had a build day in Silt where we worked on framing house. After Silt we went to Meeker, which was a really nice town. On the ride there we ran into a guy who let the girls in the groip shoot guns. They really enjoyed it. We were able to shower and swim at the local Rex center.

Today we rode from Meeker to Vernal Utah. We met up with Central US route in the middle. It was an awesome day. I'll give more details when I actually have Internet.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Aspen, CO

Today was the best ride of the summer so far!! We went from Twin Lakes to Aspen via Independence Pass and it was absolutely spectacular. I had heard that it was a pretty intense ride, but honestly I didn't think it was that bad. I laid back and took an easy and stop and took pictures every couple of miles and the next thing I knew I was at the top of the pass. Stan was driving the van and he went into Aspen and bought us cigars so I had a cigar at the top of the pass. Yes, I know that it sounds crazy to smoke a cigar at 12,095 feet, where you can barely breath, but I have to admit it was a lot of fun. Everyone was really excited when they made it to the top and we played Rocky Mountain High on the stereo. I think people thought we were a bit obnoxious but given the circumstances I think that our behavior was perfectly justified.

After the top of the pass we had a nice downhill into Aspen. I tried for a while to see if I could coast from the top of the pass to Aspen. It wasn't and so I started to pedal again. I actually found myself riding behind a couple of motorcycles and trucks for about two miles, before I decided to stop at a lookout and take pictures.

Aspen seems to be a nice town. Lots of bikes which is nice because it means people are used to cyclists on the road. There are tons of unique looking restaurants, which are also probably be expensive, so I'll stick with the food provided by Sierra's mother and maybe supplement with some fast food if I need extra. (Dollar menus are my best friend.)

I think I am going to go explore this town a bit more. Enjoy the pictures below!!


Twin lakes at sunset
 Twin lakes early in the morning

Myself at the top of Independence Pass with a stogie
The view from the top of the pass with my traveling companion.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Buena Vista, CO

So I am stopped in a small town in Colorado at a coffee shop lavishing in some internet time. The ride this morning has been pretty swell. Mostly flat to downhill for the first thirteen miles, a low grade mile climb, followed by fifteen miles down to where I am now. I'm not sure what the rest of the route holds but I have heard Twin Lakes is beautiful so it will be a good ride regardless of the terrain. I feel like I am in the heart of the Rockies right now and it is absolutely gorgeous.

Yesterday we had our first day back on the bikes after the Blitz Build into Hartsel and it wasn't without hiccups. We hit a pretty sketchy section of CO-24 that made quite a few riders nervous, so we decided to shuttle them forward in the route. It was a problem that was pretty easily solved. I got caught in a thunderstorm on the way. The rain was cold and physically hurt as it me as it fell from the sky. I made it into lunch and spent about half an hour at lunch with a cup of coffee and it passed through. On a positive note we did get to bike through Garden of the Gods, which was amazing.

Hartsel was a small and interesting town. It seemed that almost everyone there wore a cowboy hat, jeans and a plaid shirt. We went to the local bar and danced with the locals and I am pretty sure that everyone had an amazing time. I didn't do much dancing but I found that watching was highly entertaining. Since the community center that we were staying at couldn't really accommodate everyone, I wound up hanging my hammock out in the pavilion and trying to sleep out there. It worked pretty well until about 3am when the wind picked up a little bit. I tried to make my way into the community center without any luck so I slept in the van which I found really comfortable.

Anyhow I have just been informed that sweep is waiting on me to leave so I should get going. I'll try to update soon.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

A long overdue update

So I could make excuses as to why I haven't updated my blog but the truth is I have just been a little bit lazy when I have had internet. So rather than drag you through all the details of the past thirteen days since I last updated, I'll give you the Reader's Digest Version.

Texas, was perhaps the worst state that we traveled through so far. Far worse than Oklahoma. The heat was stifling and the headwinds/crosswinds just plain dangerous. We had to call our ride into Dalhart at second lunch because the conditions were so bad.

Then we went into New Mexico. It seemed that things instantly got better there was scenery and downhills. On our day into Colorado, while we were still in New Mexico, we descended into a canyon and had amazing tailwinds. I was literally going 30 miles an hour without pedaling on a fairly flat stretch of road.

Then we made it to Colorado, and it has been absolutely amazing. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous. The weather has been phenomenal and even though we rode 116 miles into Pueblo it was amazing and so worth it. I feel like I have finally gotten to the part of the trip that I was waiting for. The sad part is there is only about a month of the trip left and I have to say that I am saddened by that. I guess I will just have to make the most of the time that I have left.

End of Reader's Digest update and onto real update of Colorado Springs.

We arrived in Colorado Springs on Saturday after what would have probably been a really great ride. I don't know though because it was my van day. Oh well, that happens sometimes. Caroline and Joe (Christina's mom and younger brother) met us there and after dinner a group of us went bowling. I am proud to say that I broke 100 on my second game and I think everyone had a great time.

Sunday was our day off and I was lucky enough to use Caroline's rental car while she and Joe went whitewater rafting. So I went out to Garden of the Gods which was absolutely beautiful. I also ran a bunch of errands trying to get everything organized for the Fourth of July barbecue. After Caroline got back from whitewater rafting I went to dinner with her and another rider Marc and had a great time. Always enjoy spending time with her.

While most of the country was enjoying a day off and having a good time on the Fourth of July, we were busy building a house. I personally think that it was a much better use of our time. When we arrived there was simply a concrete foundation with sill plates that had been laid and drilled. Our first task was to set a steel span beam in the floor. It took most of us to lift it and it was really neat seeing the team work together to get it done. After the beam was set, we broke up into a bunch of different groups to seal the crawl space and get ready for framing. Personally, I helped pull seal plates run a foam barrier and then reinstall the sills.  Then we laid the floor of the house, while another group started to prefab the walls that we would use to frame on Tuesday.

After building, we came back grabbed a quick hose shower and then headed to a local park to enjoy some barbecue. I think that everyone really enjoyed themselves, which was a great feeling.

Tuesday, it was more work. We worked on framing the house. We ran into a few glitches but nothing that we couldn't handle. I wish I could say that there was more to it on Tuesday but that was pretty much what we did was move a wall from across the street, place it in the house, nail it in and repeat. The cool thing about it was that in the end it actually started to look like a house.

Wednesday a group of people finished framing while others put plywood and blue board (foam insulation for vinyl siding) on the side of the house, and I personally started putting up scaffolding so that we could start moving trusses. We moved a few trusses onto the house before we had to stop because of lightning.

Thursday, we finished the trusses up and and started decking the roof. I know that there were other things going on around me but honestly the only thing that I really know was what I was doing which were trusses.

Friday, I seemed to get put in charge of scaffolding. OSHA has raised standards so that residential builders, now have to comply with commercial fall protection standards. In short this means we had to put up a lot of scaffolding. I really enjoyed working on it though and it made the time fly by. After lunch when all the scaffolding was in place, I started working on vinyl siding. I got to be the person to do all the cutting. Which was pretty easy work. In addition to what I was doing, there was a group that was finishing the decking on the roof and starting to shingle.

On Saturday, which is today, and also my Dad's birthday (Happy Birthday Dad), we finished up the roof, and did more siding. When didn't quite get the exterior finished up but we got the vast majority of it done. I continued operating the saw for the siding/soffit crews which kept my super busy, but it was great to see what we had accomplished. Sandy, the homeowner who is awesome, came thanked me for all the work that we were doing but I just thanked her for the opportunity to work with her and sharing her story with the riders. We finished the day with a Bike Rodeo for the Habitat kids in conjunction with an organization called Bikes for Kids, which actually gave away six bikes to kids that didn't have one. It was a great way to end our week. During the Bike Rodeo I met a homeowner who had Bike & Build build her house in 2009 and got to go see where they had left messages on the garage wall in her home. It was really cool to see where Rachel had signed.

All said and done, I consider myself extremely blessed to have spent the week building in Colorado Springs. I got to see one of my mothers, I got the opportunity to really help a great family out, and it was really pretty relaxing.

I will try to upload some pictures later on this evening and just want to forewarn everyone that internet access is going to get pretty spotty over the next couple of days, which means so will my updates.