Thursday, June 13, 2013

NaKeD On ThE DiVidE part 1: EnTeR ThE SoLraK

Welcome to the most expensive free race in the world!!!!
Now let's take a minute to define expensive.
Where not just talking $.
Where talking thought expense.....
Time expense......
Energy expense.......
And then add the $$$.....
And yes maybe now you understand why its the most expensive free race.
I learned a harsh lesson about bike travel in 2011. So when I planned the logistics for this start I made sure to:
#1 fly.
#2 arrive early.
I wanted to make sure I didn't lose my bike and also make sure you that if they did lose my bike , give them enough time to find it.
Flight 1 had me going from Orlando via united to Houston Texas. It was a very smooth flight, I made a friend on the plane and handed out my first 411 card. After a lay over and a way to grainy lunch ( should of skipped the rice) I got on the flight to Calgary. It was a very uncomfortable trip.... I swear I asked for a window seat but instead ended up sandwiched between two not very friendly people.
O well.... Plus since I am usually not a grain eater my stomach hurt and the discomfort persisted the entire trip.
I read a little , slept a little... But if anything my time in the military taught me it was to be patient.... as the saying goes... hurry up and wait!!!!
Once off the plane my first concern was the status of my bike. Sure enough I saw it, sideways laying on the tarmac.  Normally I would be bothered by the poor handling, but I was elated that the bike had made it.  I got my bike and the box looked solid, no damage to note.  I made it thru customs without incident.   Seems they are very aware of the race.. And the first thing I did was grab a Starbucks.  Then I checked in with my shuttle. They took my bike and I went to look for food..  That coffee had killed my hunger and I should of just stuck with my celebratory drink. But I ordered an over priced appetizer and left the place with another bloated gut feeling uncomfortable...
On the shuttle I met a nice lady who told me about a trail I could ride out of Canmore that would take me to Banff on an all dirt option. The trail was goat creek , so I made a mental note and got off the shuttle waiting for my warm showers host. 
The race starts in Banff, but you've probably noticed I got off at Canmore. Well I had initially reserved a room near the start. But austerity measures kicked in and instead I cashed in my warm showers karma ticket and stayed with some good folks.  They even picked me up.  I was all set in tune with my tight budget. 
I met Alex an Australian born fat/mountain/road touring cyclist.  The next morning I met Megan and there little ball of adorable named Finn.
Alex is very knowledgeable and when I asked him about goat creek I got a low down on that and more. Between his detailed descriptions and Megan's information, I ended up with a map and a destination for a test ride the next day after building my bike.
The bike was mostly fine. The stem that holds the bar took a big hit and was crooked. Along with my previous existing riv nut issue I had a few things to resolve..
The first shop I went too took care of retorquing my stem but he couldn't immediately look at my riv nut.  The second shop I went too fixed my riv nut on the spot.  In route I had noticed that my rear brake was not working and the mechanic noticed a bad kink at the lever. He told me the cost to fix it but also mentioned that he didn't have any openings for a week.  I told him I already had an appointment for Wednesday and I was off.
Not wanting to waste the day even though I was down to one brake I headed up whitemans pass towards the goat Creek trailhead.
I never know what's gonna happen when I get in the mountains. Sometimes I am blessed with super speed and power, Others I am barely scraping along. Regardless I thought it was important to test myself and see what my legs would do.  The pitch was moderate , the pace was steady and  only a few miles long.
As I made my way up, I passed a herd of goats and then came across two riders who after a brief chat , I discovered they where going to the same destination as myself. Naturally I was going faster and after snapping a pic of the well earned vista, it was only a mile or so before I made the trailhead. 
It was freezing cold up at the top and because I was alone I decided to wait for the other riders.  We took off together and again being more experienced I would get ahead then stop and wait for them to pass to take more pictures. The trail was super fun and was mostly downhill .
During the ride I introduced myself and Susan and Greg were soon my new friends. We finished the trail together then they showed me what Tim Hutton's was all about. After lunch we parted ways and I rode to the lodge to find some of the riders I had been talking too on the internet for so long.  We all hung out chatting for awhile eventually got some over priced dinner. During dinner it started raining and I layered up and left sprinting as fast as I could back to town on the legacy bike trail. The path ends abruptly and you end up riding on the interstate for a few miles before arriving back in Canmore.
I was soon back at my host home cleaned up and settled into another restless night.  The sun doesn't set till 11 pm and then rises at 5 am totally throwing me off..
The next day I got up and took my bike in to get worked on and not even an hour later it was done. After having drinks and lunch with Steve Martine I took the bus into Banff and spent another evening hanging out meeting and talking to racers.
I slept better that night but didn't tell asleep till 1 am.
Today I tied up loose ends. Mailed stuff home and then attended the big dinner. I returned to shop for the race food and packed up my bike tight and ready for the big long ride that I have ahead.
I'm very anxious to get out of Canada and back to the states everything here cost way more then it should.

The time is almost upon us:
You can follow my tracker at
And listen to call ins which will update more frequently then my blog at

Its Game time baby,
The NaKeD InDiAN

Sponsor the Indian by using pay pal id or use the link on the side bar titled divide ride fund, thanks :0)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

NaKeD oN ThE DiViDe: The EpiLogue

Its been years in the making.  This dissection of a continent via a human powered off road bicycle.... 6 or 7 years.....
Its been so long its hard to remember.... I am such a slow learner that what most folks can master in a few years it takes me many more. 
When I left the desert in the summer of 2011, after taking a feeble attempt at a south to north traverse, a journey began.
A transformation was started. When I came back I quit my job as a cable technician (insuring a life of financial simplicity) and started working as a bike shop employee.
There was a three fold logic to my choice.. Being on the divide had taught me life was too short to work for a living so instead I wanted to pursue something I was passionate about.  I also would like to maybe own a bike shop some day so this was a good chance to learn more about the industry. Finally , I had the chance to learn how to fix almost every little thing on my bike..
2 years later I can say mission accomplished and although I am only a sophomore level mechanic , I know enough to get my bike moving and get back on the trail.
These skills all helped me become a better Tour Divide racer and I realized if I wanted to accomplish my goal I was going to have to reinvent myself more dynamically.
So I started commuting to work daily. 30 mile days gave way to 50 mile days gave way to 80 mile days gave way to 110 mile days and then back to back 110 mile days. Eventually doing 3 centuries a week!
Almost a year to the day after leaving the desert I competed in a friendly distance challenge with some friends and rode over 2000 miles in one month.
That month felt like one long journey. But I learned alot.. I learned saddle sores can heal while u rider.  I learned truly what my body could do.
That following August I returned to the Trans north Georgia race besting all my time splits. That ride ended up being a fail and I learned a valuable pair of lessons.
Lesson 1: ultra racing is a selfish endeavor you can't babysit and you can't be babysat; it wears you out mentally and slows you down.
Lesson 2: don't eat anything you aren't used to eating; I was sick all day and eventually I ended up puking my brains out. Disastrous finish but I climbed well and the legs felt good.
That November the cross Florida individual time trial was my next test and I was able to wipe doubt from my heart.  I broke my personal 24 hour off road distance record and a personal route record of 250 miles in a little over 25 hours. That effort netted me a 5th place finish in a field of seasoned competitors.
The result was a grand reward and I spent the next few windy winter months training hard. I pushed my limits and rode another into another fifth place in the HuRaCaN 300. I bested my 24 hour off road distance by ten miles and finished the route in a little over 28 hours.
The month's following involved more riding and now I am sitting in a Canmore coffee shop ready and set to attack this route to the best of my ability. 
The previous races taught me many important lessons. Having good results built up my confidence. Having friends and family supporting me helped me be mentally stronger and on June 14th I will put it all out there in an efficient and calculated manor with the sole intention of making it to Mexico and slaying this dragon.
I dedicate this race to my Mother, my brothers, my sons and my step daughters. I dedicate it to my love Edith. I dedicate to all my friends who have supported me unconditionally.
This one is for all of you, watch me shred!!!!

On a final note...If you have ever been inspired and want to sponsor my ride, look on the side bar, click divide ride fund.  And buy me a drink a meal a hotel room. (If you prefer pay pal Id is
If not then friend me on Facebook at and give me moral support.  This will be a challenge of a life time and I will need all the support I can get.

May the shred be with you,
The NaKeD InDiaN

Thursday, June 06, 2013

So I RoDe My BikE to ThE EveRGLaDes Final!!!

     I could hear the shower running.  My host had left for work and their son was still there in the shower.  I would need the bathroom before I left so I waited.  I believe that young man took the longest shower I have ever heard anyone take.  I got tired of waiting in bed so I made up my place of sleep, folded everything, got dressed and once he was out, it was not even 10 minutes before I bid my farewells and pedaled off.

    This part of the route was flexible for me.  I wanted to get to the coast to rejoin my gpx and at the same time, get some coffee, get some food.  So with the help of google I found a Starbucks and then found a burger king and indulged in a huge meal.

    The traffic was crazy on the way to the coast, I had to hit a couple of windows and wake some people up that were just not good at handling cyclist.  Once I got to the coast the bike paths were beautiful,
the coast wonderful and the riding on the road included a sweet bike lane.  It was pretty much perfect riding all day with a tailwind to boot and I easily made my next  host in Boyton Beach.

  I got there a few hours before he was out of work.  I helped myself to the pool in the complex and charged my electronics once the afternoon storm rolled thru.  It was nice to see my friend again, it had been years.  We went to the grocery store and he cooked a magnificent meal and I got wasted drunk on rum and listened to his stories of debauchery, he is a wise dood and has had lots of very interesting experiences.

     The next morning I was off again, this time my destination was west palm beach.  I again found a Starbucks, and then headed off to The Bicyclery to hang out with old friends.  I got there early so I hung out at the shop all day, fixed my leaky front wheel and ate pizza that Tom had bought.  Since I work at a shop it was funny listening to the same conversations I have at my shop happening a couple of hundred miles south.

     My friend Bryan gave me a lift further north to Lynn Daniels place where I had another party and feast and settled into bed, with a full belly and good beer buzz.

     The next morning Lynn dropped me off at the Amtrak Station where I loaded up my bike and rode the train to kissimmee where my original Travel partner Bob came and got me in my truck, completing my successful summer vacation trip/Cross Florida North To south Segment scouting.  All went amazingly well and I have to say the trip was a success.  The train ticket was 29$ and when I finished my trip(original budget 200$) I still had enough money to fill up my gas tank for the drive home.

By far a wonderful experience.

Take Care,


Tuesday, May 07, 2013

So I RoDe My BikE to ThE EveRGLaDes PaRt 5: SaSqUaTch ReSeArCh CenTer to MiAMi

There was no sleep to be had in that Hammock.  The skeeters were relentless.  They didn't care that they couldn't bite me they kept trying all night long.  It didn't matter that I had a 120 mile day, I still couldn't get much sleep.  All I heard, all night long was the sound of a mosquito flying too close to my ear.

I was happy when the sun came up.. I could stop pretending to sleep and get on the road.   I packed up fast. Went in the bathroom and grabbed my phone and extra battery that I had rigged up high near a plug that was 10 feet of the ground for the night.

Went to the front, where they had a little store.  The store in the research center was a typical tourist trap that you would find in any town in a any place everywhere that is close to something powerful, in this case the Everglades.  Little indian toys and flutes and alligators,etc, etc.  BUT, they also had cold goodies, so I topped off with water, Grabbed some goodies and had me a conversation with the famous Sasquatch hunter himself.

I asked him about Loop Road.

See Loop road was a principal feature of this route.  It basically takes you thru the heart of the Everglades national park AND the heart of the mIccosukee indian reservation.  AND you can do it, by foot or by bike or by car even.

BUt this loop road, if you do some sleuthing, is famous for having Alligators on the road just sunning themselves.  And in a car, no big deal, but on a bike, I admit I had my concerns.  So I asked him, would I see gators on Loop Road.

He said, I would.  And if they were in the road, to stay on the bike and just roll thru, they ll get out of the way, I am too tall for them to want to mess with me.

I thanked him for the information.

I was about to leave, after having my breakfast, two sandwiches and chips.  I got on the bike and he told me about something I need to take advantage off if I am venturing the length of loop road.  He told me that when I am hot, and I start to overheat, to find the section of road, where a bridge goes over clear water that flows north.  He then tells me about how the water is crystal clear, see Everglades water is clear, its not murky, and that when I find this spot, its a real honor to myself to jump in and bathe in the waters and then get out quickly.  He told me to make sure to not be seen since this is Miccosukee land, its not proper for me to swim in their waters.

I took this info to heart and honestly it sounded like a good Idea to me, I had spent the past couple of days riding in record heat, I was willing to sneak a dip in refreshing water.

It seemed like no time at all I was at the mouth of Loop road.  From my research I know there was  an indian village across the street from the opening, so I pedaled in, expecting gift shops and such.  But instead, I found homes, modern ones, in a circle formation, with a bunch of traditional Native palmetto and wood pavilions which do an amazing job of absorbing the heat.  When you get under on the temps drop 10 degrees easily.

As I pedaled through I could find no one, but then as I was about to leave I saw a twenty something miccosukee listening to his iphone walking around.  I asked him where I could find water, and where could I buy a cold drink.  He takes me over to a hose and then ask me to wait there.  When he comes back he gifts me a cold coke and tells me there is no charge.  Amazing, the kindness of folks while I am traveling never ceases to amaze me.

I started my way down loop road.   Saw some park pavilions and some bathrooms and potential places for future route travelers to camp.  I passed a sign encouraging me to turn around and then made my way down the pot hole ridden limestone road.  There were a few cars while I traveled it, going in either direction, in some cases I could easily keep pace with them.

At some point I stopped to adjust something on the bike and heard a growling sound coming from the swamp about 6 feet to my left, that got me moving quickly.  I kept looking for the spot that the sasquatch hunter had described, but there were literally 40 something spots matching that description.  And as the limestone, gave way to tarmac, I found a good spot and decided to take my dip.

I emptied my shirt pockets.  In the blistering heat there was no need to remove my shoes, no need to take off a shirt, that gave me more layers to keep the cool water closer to my skin longer.  As I get next to the rocky edge prepared to jump in, I look left and then look right, and to the right about 40 feet away there is a gator. To stubborn to turn around, I decide a quick dip is still gonna happen and I jump in and get out, all in a swift motion, getting wet from head to toe and the gator didn't even move.

I kept pedaling, thinking I should of filtered water, cause I was almost out.  Keep pedaling feeling a lil baked by the weather.  Keep pedaling, just feeling so much, at the same time, admiring and studying the native architecture.  They all had BIG houses, with similar lay outs, with several expensive cars out front and all the houses were built on big 40 foot tall mounds, assuming they are prepared for when the swamp surges.

I finally reach my final destination where loop road reunites with the Tamiami and I let out a little celebration, cause I had just rode from Orlando Florida to the Everglades using mostly dirt the entire way!!! The celebration was short as I had serious things to tend too.  Like water and food.  I checked google maps and there was nothing for 10 miles or more.  To my right I saw what appeared to be an artisan well.  The water smelled like sulfur and I didn't know if it was clean, but I topped off anyway and soaked my head.

I rode a lil bit found some construction workers and asked them if they knew where the next store was.  They said about five miles down the road.  Well a mile down the road I spotted a place roadside.  Went it and sure enough, it was a deli/headshop/beer store/barb cue joint/ convenience store.  I bought several bags of chips, cans of sodas and sandwiches and asked her if it was ok if I ate outside.  She one upped me and told me to go out on the deck and to relax as long as I needed.

The deck was about 120 feet long.  Decked out for season related activities with chairs and tiki bars.  The design was native in origin, meaning the roof was all palmetto so again, under this pavilion the temps were very cool.  After stuffing my belly, I laid down and took a delicious nap.  Eventually waiting a few hours before heading up the road.

As I went up the road, I rode right into the heart of the reservation where all supplies and tourist related things were available.  I could see a storm forming on the horizon and feel he cool breeze so I had stopped at a swamp air boat ride place and asked them if I could wait out the storm there.

They said yes without hesitation and I drank and ate more. The lady talked to me for a bit, seems here dad, who doesn't speak english and only speaks his native tongue was curious about me.  When I told her I had ridden from Orlando, thru all the preserves and wild areas including big cypress and the miccosukee nation, she told me he said I was crazy.

I got a hold of my host for the night and they came and picked me up, saying the road ahead was too treacherous with construction for riding.

As I sat in the car, I looked ahead and sure indeed it would have been treacherous.  BUT, I also noticed that there was dirt across the street along the canal, noting that I could indeed make this portion of the cross florida mountain bike route a little longer and get people a little closer to civilization before finishing their day.

At my host home, I cleaned clothes, cleaned my filthy bike and took a much needed shower.  After eating I passed out, sleeping deeper then I had slept any other time on this trip.



Monday, February 11, 2013

So I RoDe My BikE to ThE EveRGLaDes....Part 4 CleWisToN to the SaSqUaTch ReSeaRch CeNTer...

I made no schedule that day.  I knew that I wanted to be in Miami by Tuesday night, so when I got up that Sunday, it was hammer time.

BUT, I still didn't set an alarm.  I got up when I was done sleeping.  That night before I didn't only buy two pints of Ice Cream, I bought something to eat too, just cant remember now what it was.....

I ate, packed up, and checked out, heading towards the google map location that told me where I could get coffee...  I found the place.  It was nice, the people inside interesting and inquisitive about who I was and where I was going.  They told me I was heading into a place called the Devils Garden, and that I should watch out for the big trucks that run them roads.

I got an iced coffee.  The first Coffee that I got to taste in a few days.  Unfortunately she put sugar in it.  The lady was so nice and everyone was so nice that I just drank it anyways, even though I prefer my coffee in its most natural form.

I was heading into the unknown.  I would at some point traverse the panther habitat at Big Cypress preserve and I do not like heading into the unknown and the wilderness without a lighter.  It took me a Long time to find a lighter, but I did.

Finally got on the road, and it was pavement for a bit, with cars going by, and me going towards no where.  Eventually I got to a spot that turned off to dirt, but the area had some serious no trespassing signage so I kept on the pavement and did my best to navigate around the obstacle.

There were abandoned shrimp farms back there.  So weird to read all the signage and observe all the abandon.  Weird to see that even the locals call this place the Devils Garden.  It was blazing hot, and I was almost out of water with an expected 17 to go before a known restock.  I didn't like those numbers  but had resolved to deal with what may come.

As I pedaled along I saw a telephone repair man and I knew he had water so I begged, and restocked and kept moving on an additional bottle, still in trouble but not as bad as before.

Eventually I came up to an intersection, and in my mental state I made the wrong turn.  Only noticing when I was 7 miles down the road and heading straight into the Big Cypress Indian reservation.  Completely dry I stopped at the first store I saw. But it was closed, and all the taps outside, every single one had no water.  After realizing I had gone off course I used google to find that there were plenty of stores up the road, deeper into the reservation, so that is where I went.  Deeper into Miccosukee territory, in search of water and cold drink and maybe even food.

I rolled up to a place that was an ice cream place/everything else.  I parked my bike outside, went in and ordered 1 large cup of ice water and 1 large soda.  I sat there looking at the route suggestions that my google presented.  I could clearly see where I made my mistake.  BUT, do I backtrack or do I try and see if there is a dirty route across this reservation.

I thought about it for a long time.  Guess I wasn't in a huge rush to jump back into the frying pan.  I watched as the Natives drove around the reservation on ATVs, and after having a nice conversation with a family, and a gift of ICE cold water from them, I set off to find the local public works office and ask them if the route my Droid suggested was clear and legal.

Before I could find the office I found an police officer and he got on the horn and told me that it was not a good route do to the fences.  I backtracked got back on track and kept moving, finally back on route, 14+ miles later.  O well.  As I started getting closer to the other side where the dirty alternate I had asked the policeman about dumped out, I noticed there was a prison there and now I understand what they mean about not being able to navigate the area.

I was still about 10 miles away from my planned rest and restock when I noticed a storm rolling in.  The area is so flat, that I could see the black clouds coming for miles.  I had never seen a storm move so fast, so the only option I had was to hammer.  So I tucked into my Freddie aero bars and did just that.

8 miles to go, the air got noticeably cooler.
6 miles to go the wind was blowing hard.
4 miles to go the lightning and thunder were all around.
2 miles to go and all hell breaks loose.

Its storming so hard that I have zero visibility.  The rain is coming sideways and the wind is blowing so hard that I am being blown off the road, having to lean into the wind to stay up right

Working as hard as I could I finally made the gas station and my planned rest and restock before heading into The Big Cypress preserve.

I hung up my wet clothes.  I pulled my sleeveless base layer out my bag and put it on to warm myself up.  I went in and sat down and slowly, ate and drank and ate and stocked up, for about 3 hours.

My next destination was the Sasquatch research center.  I called ahead and got a campsite.  The guy seemed fairly concerned I wouldn't be interested, and he had agreed that me coming late was gonna be OK.

When I left the convenience store it was still drizzling.  After a little bit of pavement I entered the Big Cypress preserve through a pedestrian entrance on the far west side.  The roads were hard pack limestone and fast.  I saw huge pits full of gators, more gators then I have ever seen in one place at one time.

I never saw a panther, not a single one, but I was happy that there was plenty of traction and only a slight drizzle.  Before long I was on Turner Camp road which was 17 miles of dirt road thru the preserve ending on Alligator Alley.

As the sun set, and the rain let up, I got such a treat.  The moon was big in front.  The skies to the east were constantly sparking from a distant lightning storm, same with the skies to the west.  I was threading the gauntlet between two storms, with moonlight guiding the way and huge bats, bigger then any I have ever seen, gliding over head as they feasted on the mosquitoes.

Not far down that road, I pedaled the last few miles of pavement to the Sasquatch Research Center and found the camp host.  Got my spot, and went in the shower first.

The mosquitoes were horrendous.  It was another maddening evening, feeling the insane itch all over my legs, my spray worked, but if I missed anything they would be on me, blackening the skin, they were small and would mass on your flesh in a second.

I found some mosquito incense someone had left over, and took a break in there, under the smoke.  I organized my desire to set up my hennessey hammock, and then went outside to try and sleep.

I knew ahead of time that it would be a rough night, but lord did I underestimate what the night would truly have in store with me and the mosquitoes.


Monday, February 04, 2013

So I RoDe My BikE to ThE EveRGLaDes....Part 3 OkEeChoBeE to CLeWiStOn

Check out was 11 am.  So we were up and out of that room, JUST as it was 11am.  While Bob
was napping under a tree at River Ranch Resort, I had text messaged the Queen of Ultra Endurance, Lynne Daniels, and Asked her if she minded driving into Okee to get Bob.  At the time I had no Idea we would go on a HELL HIKE, but I could tell Bob, who had just come off a 3 month off the couch Hiatus, had perhaps bitten off more then he could chew.

When I gave Bob the news, he didn't complain, not even a little.  We soft pedaled a block or two to 5 guys, to have food, while we wait for the meet up with Paul and Lynne.  I had the bikes locked up but in sight, I never ever leave my bike out of it.  I ordered the biggest burger I could and the large bag of fries and ate forever, till Lynne and Paul arrived and I got a chance to give them snippets and bits of what I had experienced on the trail so far.

And so far the news was good.  The trail had really delivered with gorgeous terrain and adventure, except for that 12 mile hike.

Eventually after our food was done, we said our goodbyes and Bob left with them on his way to rest and catch a train and I continued on the route heading towards the Everglades.  The wind was bad and coming from the south.  That's the way it is in the summer ya know, the southern hot wind.

My perception at the time I left was that I was behind schedule so I skipped riding on the levy.  The sun was hot, and I was astounded about how tired I still felt from my late night ride, the wind wasn't helping and neither was the heat.  I stopped and took a break near a clearing and an entrance towards a picnic area up on the levy.  I Skype called Edith and told her about how bad my legs were cut up and how ridiculous the wind was, but after our talk, I got myself together and kept rolling.

After a short sixty mile wind blown day, I rolled into Clewiston, eye balling what would be the most logical start off point, to restock in the morning and get back on route.

Eventually I settled on this little hotel on the other side of town.  I paid Cash for the room, which I thought was strange.  She didn't ask me for ID and I could of very well used any name in the book, I guess I never thought paying cash for a hotel room was a possibility.

After cooling my heels I walked over in my clickity clackity cycling shoes to a little hole in the wall restaurant.  The music was so loud that it was inaudible. I have no Idea why they play the music at such a high and distorted volume.  There were a dozen people in the place and all of them except one, were MEN.  

So lets take a quick tally.  Ridiculous loud polka style Central American Spanish music, 11 men, one young woman and ME.  They stared at me, all the men did, like I had an elbow growing sideways out of my face.  But I sat down, had my beers and delicious plate of carnitas, whilst I got stared at, the entire time.

It was odd, for sure, but I don't ever venture anywhere without feeling like safe, and although I was the spectacle I felt safe enough.  After I left there I was still hungry and decided to hit the convenience store for two pints of ice cream.  Since I was in my camp clothes which consisted of a sleeveless base layer and camp/hike shorts, my cycling sculptured tan was obvious.  So obvious in fact that the clerk asked me if I was in some sort of gang.  OMFG will this trip get any stranger.  I ate my two pints of ice cream, talked to my loved ones and eventually fell asleep early, while on vacation on my bike in a comfy hotel room, because after all, the day before had been hell and the end of today, had a little slice of heaven.


Sunday, February 03, 2013

So I RoDe My BikE to ThE EveRGLaDes....Part 2: 3 LaKeS to OkEeeChOBee

It was a long night, but I got to sleep.  I could hear Bob over there shifting around and stuff, didn't seem like he was having a good time but Bob is tough as nails so it was no big deal.  We packed up.  Mission one was to find water.  I was low, but I also knew that there was a well in the area.  Had seen it somewhere or maybe Bob told me, either way we rode a little bit of distance to these beautiful campgrounds.

I kind of looked at Bob funny, if we  had only pedaled 2 more miles last night we could of camped by water and bathrooms in this beautiful spot....Noted, but we just chuckled about it.  I used the rest room, learned about how to use the well that was located on site.  The well required me to first pour some water into it to get it to function.  I had never seen such a thing, but it was good to have Bob there to guide me through it, I really don't know if I would of figured it out by myself.

I stocked up on water and when I went to use my Leatherman, I couldn't find it.  When I am in the backwoods I tend to keep it on me, so I can have it handy.  But it was nowhere.  I searched through my memories and found a picture in my head of me unpacking it into my helmet that I hung of my hammock.  I figure it must of fell out so I pedaled back to the campsite I stayed at and after a small search I found it.  YESSSSS.... I really didn't want anymore adversity on the trip.  In fact when I drove to work Friday morning I had packed everything I needed for the trip except my shoes.  Thankfully I had my spare shoes in the car, so I had to ride this trip with shoes that feel. fine, but the Velcro straps don't work for crap.  I had managed well so far, but like I said, I didn't want anymore adversity.

Bob met me up at the road, he had gone on a bit.  It was evident our pace was different on the trip and I had told him to go ahead, he had the route loaded on his GPS as well.  But when I rolled up he was at the intersection where we had turned off to go down the road to get water.  He told me there were construction guys up there and that we could not pass.

Great I thought.

I remember the Florida trail passed thru so we decided to try using it to get across.

After wondering around and seeing alot more forest we did a huge circle ending up right where we started still on the wrong side of the forest.  I cook up the plan that we just bushwhack to the other side and  deal with the water when we get to it.

We got to the water and Bob volunteers to try and get across so we can see how deep it is.  It was marshy looking stuff and I couldn't see the bottom, but like I said, Bobs a bad ass so no sweat across he went, it never got deeper then his waist, so I grabbed my bike and waded across and so did he.  Before we knew it we were back on pristine hard pack forest road.  The riding was great up here, it was wide open, bright and HOT.  Florida summers are no joke and even though it had been only 6 miles progress forward on the route I was almost out of water after wondering around on the wrong side of the river on the Florida Trail.

I got a ways ahead of Bob, told some jeepers that rolled up about the construction.  Then stopped at a game station and restocked on water, took off most my gear and called it an early break from the Sun while I waited for Bob. It was good I had gotten in chill mode, started eating one of my subs, drinking water, soaking my head and my face, Bob looked pretty cracked when he got to me and he basically jumped into the sink with the water, bathed head to toe and laid down for a bit.  He was roasted and I could tell.  I could tell he was in trouble and a break was the only solution.

We relaxed for a long while and then got moving again in the bright white sun.  Next section was unknown to me.  I thought it might be like a private community with a guard gate.  I had told Bob if there was a guard to let me do the talking.  But as we got closer to River Ranch, we discovered it was a resort.  The first building we saw had coke machines and we were both roasting and after wrestling with our damp dollar bills, Bob Amazingly got them to work, we had several cold drinks and sat out front of the closed store in the rocking chairs.

As we got closer we saw golf carts with tourist and buffalo and horses and more buildings and stores, restaurants and a post office, it was basically a small town in the middle of nowhere.

It was an Oasis in the blistering heat and we ate, cooled our heels and spent a good part of the afternoon sleeping under the shade of the oak tree by the river.  The weather had called for Clear skies, but I saw the storm coming, we barely missed it and hid out in a store.  The storm was intense and both Bob and I had a feeling it would pass quickly, so we stocked up.  The next 32 miles would be straight into the a wilderness area called Kicco WMA, terrain Unknown. 

What I did know about Kicco was that it ran along the kissimmee river.  The link you see above I found way after the fact.  So I know way more know then I did then, but the route was hard packed and fast as we navigated our way along the track.  Eventually we were in huge pastures full of cows and bulls.  I got nervous about the Bulls.  So I stood up and hammered through the area trying to look big fast and intimidating.   Most Bulls trotted toward the bush line along with the cows, but some stood there ground.

Once we cleared that area, we had to hang a hard right into grassy double track and before I know it, I am pedaling through a section of deep water, beyond Hub Deep, but I kept the paddle boat moving and emerged the on the other side, wet, but not bitten by snake or gator.

 A little further along, we came up on a fence, went thru it, and then hiked and pedaled along a fire break up and over a pyramid built to get you over the fence.  We crossed it, kept going on hard packed stuff to swampy double track, zigging and zagging eventually coming up on a bob cat, and then vehicles and the river as we made Fort Kissimmee cemetary.

Hindsight being 20/20 I now know that when we crossed on that pyramid we had entered the Avon Park WMA. But at the moment I was just following the track riding buff swamp hard pack swamp trail with few crossings, then some really cool shell rocky trail, good times.  Very little sand, really nice.

Eventually, it got darker, and before we knew it we were way in the middle of nowhere as the sun was setting.  We were up on a levy of sorts and we would drop down and cross water and then up and it would repeat, further and further back. AND then, the trail, the road, just ended into tall saw grass.  There was a monster fence on our right.  By far the oddest fence I had ever seen.  It was tall, then it had about a 5 foot gap in the middle, then it continued upward another 6 to 10 feet.  If I had to guess I would think the intention of the odd design was to keep deers out, since they would totally hit the top part.  Or maybe it was so they could get thru? Why else design such an odd fence.

We tried to follow the track, and were surrounded by saw grass.  Visibility was dismal, mosquito's were everywhere, to say things were getting tense, is an understatement.  When we got to the other side and looked back, the fence said, danger, Air Force base property do not trespass.  Seeing that sign and having crossed over from that side, it just added to our confusion.    After some bushwhack, Bob loses his spectacles.  Not good, we backtrack and find the actual track and discover that this was the section of the route that I had no choice but to follow the Florida trail to keep the true nature of the route intact, this was the mandatory hike section that was unavoidable.

So we muddled thru.  It was in some times what appeared to be abandoned farm land.  Then we would come up on sections where the swamp was trying to take the trail back.  Finding the blazes of Orange was complicated in the dark, and it took alot of deep breaths and team work to manage it all.  Eventually we would come up on bridges that had been built.  We were hiking in saw grass and water at times, and our legs were sliced to bits and the mosquito's were like blankets attacking from all sides, moving was the only solution.

I felt desperate at times.  I was getting impatient.  Even contemplated camping and waiting for daylight, we had enough food.  But we pushed, I figured it would only be 4 to 10 miles of this so push, push, push.  Hiking on bridges that now were off camber from the swamp destroying there flat design, taking them back into the water.

I have studied tense survival situations like this. And just stayed patient and persevered, eventually I saw a street light.  I told Bob, if there is a street light, there is a street and there is a way out.  The track even said to go in that direction so we go over the fence, discovering that we are in private property, some outdoor guide place.  We could hear dogs, we turn our lights off and haul ass.  I see dogs in pens, not worried, and I see kayaks and huge trucks and before we know it we exit the property thru an open gate and we see the trail head where we could have hiked out of eventually skipping this peace of the route.

Looking back, I will try and find away around this hike a bike.  Maybe the property owners will give us permission to pedal thru.  Or maybe we backtrack from fort kissimmee cemetery thru Avon Park WMA.  At this time I don't know.  Maybe hiking 8 to 10  miles is the way it should stay???

Regardless, once on pavement we had alot of miles left to Okeechobee and we were both, tired, cut up, bit up, and beaten by the ridiculous survival hike we just did.  My Droid did the math and according to map, we still had 35 more miles to ride to get to Okee....

I cant at this time, months later describe how disappointing that news was.  It had been a difficult and intense 4 hours in the swamp.  But we stopped at the intersection and I ate another sub, and I danced around being driven insane by the itch I could feel on my legs from the bites and the cuts.

As sad and as low as a moment that was, we both knew what we had to do and we saddled up and pedaled.  I was suddenly motivated, so I got deep into my Freddie's and hammered away.  Bob's light disappeared.  I ran out of water, and topped off.  I stopped to lay down for a minute, I was falling asleep on the bike.  The mosquito's wouldn't let me sleep, so I got up, got rolling stopping at a church, Bob and I reunited.  He got water and we kept going, eventually angry and fed up, I use the fuel to Hammer at 19+mph to town. Pulling  into a station I grab some cold drinks and sit outside and wait for Bob.

While I'm out there drinking my Dr. Pepper, I notice Okee is quite lively late at night.  Three trucks pull up, the guys are yelling at the other guys, playing around I suppose.  Young 20 something year old girls stare at me as they go inside the store.  I must be quite the sight, muddy, dirty, cut up and tired.

A guy ask me if them guys in the truck wanted to fight?
I told him, I think they are just joking around, they know each other....
He then ask me what I am doing here at 2 in the morning.
I tell him, I'm just on a ride, waiting on a friend, were gonna get a hotel....
then he tells me, O, I don't have any money...

In my head I was like WTF???

Just then the 20 something year old girls walk by and this time at least they say hi.

Bob shows up, we shop, we get our things and roll out, to the closest cheapest hotel.

I showered with my clothes on to clean them. and wring them up.  I put on my spare clothes and by the time I got out the shower Bob was sleeping.  It had been a hard and long day.  I stayed up watching TV and eating about 2000 calories worth of food, eventually falling asleep myself.

NK 2013

Saturday, February 02, 2013

So I RoDe My BikE to ThE EveRGLaDes....Part 1: BiKeWoRkS SoUtH to 3 LaKeS

Foreword.....I realize that I have been neglecting the sharing of my words and stories.  I also realize there maybe 14 of you out there that are missing my musings.  I apologize for being absent.... Ever since I left the Gila in 2011 I have been on a journey, but I am back and I want to share... So without further ado, part one of my Mountain bike ride to the everglades.

I imagine my boss at work is annoyed by me.  I spent what feels like HOURS looking at the map.  I don't know but at some point I realized, after making all the routes I have made that they all have a similar pattern. You travel via mountain bike from wilderness area to wilderness area.  In one side, out the other, on and on, all the way to whatever destination you choose.

I only know Florida.  So, I started seeing the connections when I looked at the map.  And then I started piecing altogether, and at some point I sat down and just started looking and clicking and mapping a mostly off road route, from where I was sitting at work, to and thru the Everglades and beyond.

I had hatched an elaborate plan.  7 days, 500 miles.  Ride whatever pace I want, hard or soft.  80% of the trip into wilderness area after a wilderness area, a chain of green space snaking along the Kissimee river to Lake Okeechobee.

Since I started working at Bikeworks south I immediately mapped a route exploring shingle creek.  Shingle Creek is known as the headwaters of the Everglades.  It seemed easy to try and find the other areas of green space along this waterway.

It actually took me about 20 minutes to map the entire route, including the return trip.  I then spent another 60 minutes confirming every piece of the route that I could see from street views.  Eventually before I put together my final product, I went thru it one more time with a fine tooth combed, making sure that the route was solid.  I picked my dates, bought my train ticket for the return trip home and set out on a 200$ budget no less.

I am really blessed to have Edith in my life who believes in me spiritually and mentally.  Encourages me to be my best and even more, she is that stoke to my fire and passion for what I do. I also find myself lucky to have friends to ride with and who will still join me when I get a wild hair to do something just a little crazy.

Bob Capers was the only one who stepped up to join me.  His plan was to ride with me to Okeechobee and then ride to Jupiter to meet up with The Queen of Florida Off Road Ultras, Lynne Daniels.  Again, I felt blessed to have someone along, even if it was only for 120 miles of the 500 mile voyage.

I didn't want to miss any work, or waste any vacation time so I decided to leave Friday after work and ride off into the dark heading towards Holopaw.  It was going to be a mostly pavement/bike path shred out of town.

The First part of the ride was fine, but Kissimmee, was like a different country.  We pedaled thru it with no issue, but the traffic was crazy and the drivers were aggressive, it was a wild ride.

Once we hit the bike path sections, I remembered why I had picked that route, very pretty and scenic stuff, we were riding in the dark by this point, but it was the middle of summer and riding at night is choice.  Bob, kept reminding me that my current route was technically taking us in the wrong direction and that we would be backtracking a bit, but that was the first time I shared my Number one rule when I am scouting a track that I have only known by drawing at home.... Always follow the track.... So we stayed on track and made our first stop, first at a seven eleven to shop, where I bought a pair of subs and a bag of chips for the first leg of our trip, and then we  stopped again, in Holopaw, before venturing deeper into the forest where there would be no supplies for an expected 80 miles.

I don't remember how long we had been on the bike at this point, but I ate dinner and got a super deal on skinned potato wedges and chicken crisp.  I took my time eating my chicken and potatoes and bought some chocolate for the road.  I prefer to eat chocolate or some sort of chocolate mix when I am pedaling, but that's the catch about a Florida summer, chocolate turns to hot liquid and its not appetizing at all.  In fact if you eat it, its cause you have no choice, not cause you would enjoy it.  Since it was dark, though, I stocked up and spent the rest of the night eating chocolate making sure by the time the sun came up, that it would be all gone.

After riding along pavement for awhile and being passed by huge semi trucks, we entered our first dirt section, ,.  It was pretty shitty.  But since I am used to riding shitty, I pedaled and drifted on top of the sand so quick that I disappeared from Bob.  Eventually we met up on this perfectly hard packed dirt road.  Once I got there I pulled out my phone and saw that had we stayed on the paved road just a little longer we could have rode hard packed pristine forest road instead of the sand trap I just spun thru.  Lesson learned and noted.....

Bob is such a good person to have along though that the first thing he said to me, was "Hey, I know this road, we could have taken pavement a little further and connected with...". He was right, but it was too late, onward we pushed.

The forest roads are hard packed and fast.  We even rode thru a tunnel under the Florida Turnpike and kept going until we crossed a big paved road and Bob Suggested we break camp.  Initially my plan had been to continue until the route crossed the location of Fort Kissimmee Cemetary, but Bob wanted to rest, and I was ok with it.  We set up our hammocks in the bug infested scrub and did our best to sleep with the mosquito's buzzing around and a random car driving the forest roads in the distance.