Tag Archives: bikeusa

Bike USA: Mark’s fast food firsts

Dairy Queen, A and W, Arctic Circle (only a rootbeer float though), Texaco, Ampride, Amoco (and a whole slew of other gas station/convenience stores), Hardees (which is now owned by Carl’s Junior)

Won’t eat that. Not yet.

Bike USA: Memorable Quotes

‘It’s ridiculous to walk that far for a stupid animal.’ – overheard in Yellowstone coming out the mouth of a middle-aged woman… what the hell was she doing in Yellowstone?

It’s such an exhilarating feeling to bike through Yellowstone and show no fear for all the freaking motor homes as they pass. The culminating experience was definitely the ride out of the East Entrance, riding 35-40 down that awesome hill, taking up the whole lane, forcing cars to obey the speed limit.


‘This grass is like high school grass.’ – Luke in Iowa during RAGBRAI

‘No, this grass is like bank grass.’ – Luke, quickly amending his statement.

‘Let’s just go over there.’ – Mark, while pointing to a city a little bit off the road in the dark outside of Valentine, NE, moments before totally wiping out due to the road turning into gravel.

‘I think I’m going to get Da Bomb.’ – Mark at a convenience store, getting his lunch which happened to be a huge red-hot burrito with a funny moniker.

‘You ugly!’ – Max’s way of telling me that someone in the near vicinity was totally, butt ugly (usually a white person, no offense).

Pho Found, Trip Over

‘Let’s just take the freakin’ train the rest of the way!’ – Mark and Max, after their first train ride.

As soon as we broke down and bummed our first ride, we had no qualms of doing it over and over again, although we only ended up doing it two more times and only when we blew a tire or something.

The inside of our tent was the site of many a killing. Bloody smears everywhere from where we smashed mosquitoes and other bugs.

Never trust a local to give you good biking directions. Half of them don’t know what a bike is.

‘Dude, that person should NOT be wearing a Superman T-shirt!’ – Mark, gawking at the largest man in the world wearing a baby-T with his midrift showing. The word ‘midrift’ automatically perks up any room, but this guy totally ruined the image for Mark.

Make sure you buy the right kind of chain for your bike. When I replaced my chain in Prineville with a new one, the two highest (as in smallest rear cogs) started skipping. I had thought that I just needed to replace the casette and had to wait until Boise to do so. It turns out that the chain that I put on sucked for my set-up. Next time I’m sticking to a name brand like Shimano or Sachs. – Mark

Bike USA: August 9-29, 2000 – Now what? Boston

Max’s stuff in black, Mark’s in brown.

Now what?

dining hall
in Princeton with Ted and Bindiya

So we rented a U Haul and high tailed it to Princeton. We both have some time to visit friends on the East Coast before going back to the west. My brother misses Robin and Ushki. I miss San Francisco and friends. And yet, I’m only going back for maybe a week before I leave to Japan, China, East Malaysia, and finally Australia. I’m going to be doing more of this travelling craziness for the next few months! What am I thinking? Unfortunately I didn’t make my Green Tortoise reservation in time and I will not be riding the hippie bus for 16 days from Boston to San Francisco. Most likely I’ll be taking Amtrak, but now I can visit North Carolina.

All three of us piled into this U-haul, after doing a whole lot of phone calls finding out that most of the rental car places wouldn’t work for us due to a minimum age requirement (Max is 24) or the fact that they don’t do one-way rentals. When we finally found a rental place that would work, we discovered that it was about $100 more than a U-haul rental. The New Jersey Turnpike was a new experience for me. I thought the rest areas that have restaurants and gas were kinda funny, and I could’ve added about 3 items to my fast food firsts list.

We got to Princeton and spent a night with Ted, a high school friend. Ted makes awesome tacos al pastor. Princeton is the ice cream social capital of the world.

crazy ducks
Movie of the Infinite Hallway in MIT
Movie of the Infinite Hallway in MIT part 2
Freedom Trail
in Boston on the Freedom Trail
Chris likes fruity drinks more than I do.

The next few days were just us hanging around Boston, Max with Nancy and me with Chris. At one point George catched a plane from Providence back to Reed. I went to hang out with Ben in Providence for a couple of days before taking Amtrak back home. Read Cryptonomicon on the train.

Movie of that chair piece in the Arthur Ganson MIT exhibit (might have to boost up your monitor brightness)
Redbones bbq place – they have a bicycle valet.
virtual aquarium
virtual aquarium at Boston Science Museum
Movie of the lightning show at the Boston Science Museum
Dunkin Donuts
Dunkin Donuts with fellow Reedies: Tom, Stephanie, Claire, Mark, Chris, Ben
Chris and his hat
at Claire’s after donuts

Right now it is time to sleep and read. STILL haven’t finished Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I just bought the Joy of Yiddish. Oy! Soon this meshuggener is coming home.

Amtrak sunset
Amtrak sunset
Movie of Mark’s train ride home

If there is one thing that people should learn from our trip, I believe that it is to take life a little slower, think about your actions, enjoy the world around you, and ensure that it lasts for others. Coming in at a close second, though, is some bicycle knowledge: 26 x 1.25 tires are NOT the same as 26 x 1-1/4 tires.

Bike USA: August 9-29, 2000 – The Rally

Max’s stuff in black, Mark’s in brown.

The Rally

August 20th from 10AM to 2PM we were supposed to bike around the D.C. Mall (monument and museum central of the U.S.). After that there was a party in Mt. Ranier until the wee hours of the night. Unfortunately, Allen’s house is much much farther than I had anticipated and I arrived at 1pm. ouch. There’s nothing quite like 10 miles growing to 25 when you’re starving and sleep deprived. I thought everybody would be circling the Mall until 2pm so I just stopped in the shade and started eating Milk Duds. Met a Thai guy raised in Laos who has been bumming around in the U.S. for the past 20 years or so. Now there is a side of America I wish we had seen more of. You can learn a lot from a simple world traveller. Their values don’t include luxury cars and stability. Maybe I’m attaching too much romanticism but it’s like a modern day monk.

George did not have a bike for the rally, so while Max biked to the rally, George and I and my bike took a subway to the approximate location of the rally and looked for a bike rental place. It turned out more difficult than we had anticipated and we decided to break for lunch. By the time we finished getting our food and heading back to the rally location on the way to the bike rental, we saw that the rally turned into an impromptu podium/speaker/everyone-lounge-around-and-watch deal. So we didn’t get George a bike, and I ended up not riding one single loop of the rally route!

the rally

The rally was not very large. Maybe at most two hundred people with just a handful of trans am riders. The party was cool – live bands, local bike shop tents, food, like RAGBRAI without so much alcohol. Martin Krieg, the organizer, introduced us to the masses, but most everybody already knew us as the Chen Brothers. We were big stars among this small niche of crazy people! Meeting all the crazy people behind the log entries and email and attaching faces to words was like putting the final pieces of a puzzle together. I mainly talked to Monty and Bill, two hilarious guys who biked from Seattle. I had breakfast with them the following morning while they were wearing matching “I [heart] Intercourse (pennsylvania)” T-shirts. Our trip would have been completely different if it wasn’t just Bo and I.

Did anyone lose a blinking taillight? I’ve got it.

That night I slept outside the local rec center. Bo and George had already gone back to Allen’s earlier in the evening. It was the last time our Portland bought tent would be used for a while. The inside stank of pungent B. O. and the walls were lined with blood smears from squished mosquitos. This was it. The bike trip is finally over.

George and I spent the time watching Macross Plus and Once Upon a Time in China 6. 🙂

Bike USA: August 9-29, 2000 – The final stretch – Cumberland, DC

Max’s stuff in black, Mark’s in brown.

The Final Stretch

West Virginia
It was very warm.
ATA trail
ATA trail
ATA trail
Movie of the C & O Canal Towpath

From Pittsburgh we took the YRT, the Allegheny Highlands Trail, and the C & O Towpath all the way in to the greater D.C. area. Blammo, back in rural country. Specifically Amish like country. The paths were limestone but fine to ride on with 1.35″ slicks. The YRT and the Allegheny were so nice that they became rather boring. The Allegheny ends with an impressive viaduct (bridge) that put the high bridge outside Valentine, Nebraska to shame. It was also really cool to see the wind turbine farm in the distance. The C & O was full of puddles, fallen branches, and turtles out for a stroll, so it was much more exciting.

At one point on the towpath, I ran over an approx 5″ diameter light greyish object. It was near dusk so everything looked greyish. I was looking at my cycle-computer or something and then when I looked in front of my bike I noticed this object in the road too late to avoid it. I think it was either a turtle or a bull frog or at least something animal-like. But I also think it was dead since when I ran it over, I heard a little thunk/crunch noise and then got splattered with white gooey kinda like mud stuff that had little maggots writhing about. I wiped it all off as best I could, but my bike stank for 3 days of something not quite right which made me ill everytime I inhaled too much, which happens often when one is doing physical exercise.

nice signs

Everytime we had to leave the trail, about 50 miles or so, it got extremely hilly. Scalding rims downhill and walkers uphill. We asked a local for directions twice and, like EVERY time before, found that locals are the prime source for misinformation. If we stuck to looking at the sun’s position and rattling bones, we would have been better off. Camped illegally twice.

Heck yeah it was hilly! Worse road conditions and grades during those couple of days when we had to ride roads than any other time our whole trip. Beware Pennsylvania. Wait until 2002 or 2003 when the whole trail from Pittsburgh to DC will be complete. It makes for funny memories though…

Coming into Great Falls, a suburb outside D.C., we got a roast chicken and rolls at a Safeway and just ate in the parking lot. There were no bike racks and about a million SUVs. People just sitting and waiting in the car, listening to music and leaving the air conditioner on. They looked pretty aghast to see two dark bikers ripping flesh and sucking marrow in the parking lot. We used the rolls to wipe the grease from our faces and hands. We were disturbing their sheltered world of conformity.

Personally, I don’t think we were disturbing their world beliefs at all. I think they were conveniently pidgeon-holing us in the ‘bum’ category.

On the way to Allen, a Cornell classmate’s, apartment in the outreaches of Silver Spring my brother’s chain snapped. I’ll take that as an omen that our trip should end now. Despite the rain and unforgiving traffic we made it to Allen’s on the 18th of August. We made it. Time for some serious anime (japanese animation) watching.

The odd thing is that we, or at least I, Mark, didn’t feel super elated or anything. The whole sense of accomplishment did not culminate with our finishing in DC. I think we got over the fact that we would make it by the time we reached Chicago. The end of the trip was just follow-thru. Anime was great!

We had dinner with our Great Uncle Eight, an ex-NASA and DOE heat transfer engineer. He drives like a maniac and it was quite unnerving when he and his wife would ask us to read street signs for them while we travelled at mach 2. If you slowed down maybe it would be AAAAAAHHHHH less stressful. Oh nevermind. Anyway we got the special Asian treatment at a really good Chinese seafood restaurant. My brother got a great fortune, “Your existence is a benefit to mankind.” As opposed to “You should die now you oxygen stealer.”

That night we watched hours of anime back at Allen’s. Jojo’s Bizarre AdventureCowboy Bebopthe Hakkenden, and Record of Lodoss Wars. aaaaaah, like heroin straight into the bloodstream.

in DC
BBQ with Allen and his relatives – Allen is the guy behind Max.

On the 19th, George, a friend from Reed whose parents live in Philly, came down by bus to meet us and hung out with us while we sightsaw DC. We ended up checking out the circular sculpture building and the National Air and Space Museum right next door. George had never been to DC before, so we had fun doing the obligatory photos of him and monuments and of us and monuments to document the fact that we friggin biked to DC. That night we were treated to a bbq that Allen’s relatives were having and even later, we went to watch The Cell. Allen is an awesome host, his apartment is very immaculate and he has a cool cat. Oh and the anime.

Bike USA: August 9-29, 2000 – Into Pittsburgh

Max’s stuff in black, Mark’s in brown.

Into Pittsburgh

I started to feel the weirdness in Chicago, but it didn’t REALLY hit me until going to the Metropol nightclub in Pittsburgh. To see scantily clad young professionals mixing with frat boys and goths brought me quickly back to the urban nightlife we’ve been lacking this entire trip. It wasn’t country or Hispanic music. Were we really just biking across the US? It was hard to imagine this same group of hip grinding bipeds had ever gone camping or biking since early childhood if ever. Did I blend in? Would my brother and I be allowed back into normal society? After dancing for a couple hours I rode back to our Great Uncle Seven’s house and really sat down and reflected.

During this whole trip I kept thinking to myself that I was becoming more and more patient (and, correlated with this, that I was becoming more and more tolerant – which I later found not to be true as soon as I got back home to Portland to find that Robin has become engrossed in, what I think is, horrible TV). I was not in a hurry to go anywhere. This was most evident when Max and I sat in the back seat of a relative’s car when we went out to dinner or whatnot. In some cases, like with our Great Uncle in DC, abject fear took over, but most of time, like when Leo, our cousin, was driving, just a sense of why-the-hell-are-we-going-so-fast-when-we-don’t-really-need-to syndrome. I didn’t mind so much with Leo since he is a confident driver, but all around us ever since we reached Chicago, we could see the implied hurriedness of everyone around us. This was one aspect of our fear that we wouldn’t fit in anymore.

Another, kinda bigger, aspect (at the time anyway) was that our lack of social etiquette would make us stand out. In Idaho we met a man, Johan, who had been biking around the US as a lifestyle. He has no job, no cash on him, just a bike and a trailer. He looked like a bum, but not one of those alcoholic, total wretches, more of an anarchistic, hippie type. While talking to him he would scratch his balls and fart, who-gives-a-crap-what-people-thought-of-him kind of an attitude. By the time we reached Chicago/Pittsburgh, we had become accustomed to that attitude, maybe not to such an extreme. Would we be allowed back into normal society when we obviously didn’t give a crap about the formalities of etiquette. For example, our Great Uncle in Pittsburgh’s wife would have leftovers in the fridge and when we wanted to eat something we had to have a different plate for each thing of tupperware because obviously food shouldn’t be served out of tupperware, and we had to each have about 3 plates or bowls because you can’t have rice and meat and veggies and then when you’ve finished put fruit on the same plate. All the while we’re trying to explain to our auntie that we only needed one plate to save the hassle of doing more dishes. When we said that for the last two months we’d been eating out the same bowls that hadn’t been washed with soap for weeks and using the same spoon that we licked clean, she only assumed that we said this to illustrate how crappy a way of living it was and that of course we wanted a whole production for lite snackie leftovers because that’s how civilized people act.

And so we worried that we no longer fit in. It didn’t bother us that we were wearing the same clothes for a week and that our showers usually consisted of a river or a sink in a fast food restaurant. But now that I think about it, I stipulate, that when Max and I were questioning our chances of being let into normal society, we were in the wrong frame of mind. To paraphrase the Tick, “We’re not crazy! We’re sane in a crazy world!”

All those people we met way back in Wyoming, like super tanned ex-Navy Alex, who we watched and listened karaoke while his laptop got stolen. He biked for something like 36 hours with 4 hours of sleep to get to the youth hostel in Jackson because he was afraid bunkbeds might run out. While we just arrived and casually checked in without knowing how incredibly lucky we were. I thought about the desolation of Eastern Oregon after we broke off the Adventure Cycling route. There were days of abandoned barns along ruler straight roads, and me trying to pick up a radio station to prevent from going mad. I thought about the nightly rodeo with crazy bull riding in Cody, Wyoming. The rodeo and the dance club – two utterly different nocturnal worlds, not too far from each other.

One really cool thing about the Metropol that night – I met a model for the Kabuki comic book. She was dancing with a Kabuki mask on and I talked to her ever so briefly. To all those people out there who think comics are for kids and they are all like X-men, read David Mack’s Kabuki. He really shows that comic books are both an artform and an unique storytelling medium. The man’s a bloody genius.

I opted out of going to Metropol because, unfortunately for all the ladies out there, clubbing is not my scene. Instead I went back to our PGH HQ and watched the Wallace and Gromit trilogy.

Cathedral of Learning
Cathedral of Learning
Non-denominational church where our parents got married

While in Pittsburgh, which I should emphasize ends in ‘h’, we stayed with our grandmother’s brother. The twin brother of the crazy driver we would later meet in Washington D.C. He and his wife are incredibly nice and they pampered us like toddlers. It was great. We had dinner with both of them and Alice, our mom’s college dorm mate, and Alice’s boyfriend. Everyone was in academia, which probably explains why they all had good humor and were missing that glazed over look salarymen often have. Bo and I also visited the beautiful church our parents got married in.

We went to the Carnegie Science Center one day and Carnegie Mellon the other. My brother thought it was so cool that THIS museum had a SELF guided tour of the submarine. So cool in fact, that he made it his personal mission to turn every knob and pull every lever that wasn’t zip tied in place. Once, he didn’t see the “do not move levers” sign and low clunking sounds were heard from the deep underbelly of the beast. We kept moving.

our stay in Pittsburgh
Great Uncle
our stay with our Great Uncle

Carnegie Mellon was really neat. There are three programs there I’m interested in: wearable computing, robotics, and green design. I got to talk to some faculty and the robotics program gave me a snazzy video. Do I see grad school in the Max Chen crystal ball?

Bike USA: August 9-29, 2000 – More Chicago

Max’s stuff in black, Mark’s in brown.

It’s now the 23rd of August and I’m in Boston, so I’ll try and do a seance on myself and write like all this stuff is just happening.

Since I’m a lazy bastard, I didn’t edit this until the 3rd of September and I only covered stuff until the 29th or so of August. Also, I’ll just interspace my thoughts in between paragraphs.

More Chicago

art museum in Chicago
art museum in Chicago
art museum in Chicago
Chicago library
Chicago library
Chicago library

The Chicago Art Museum is pretty amazing. We got to see a lot of the paintings, especially Impressionistic ones, that we had only seen on slides or in books. I was a little disappointed with the current Pharoahs of the Sun exhibit. I was in the mood to see crazy bejeweled gold scarabs and treasure like in the Mummy, but it was mainly stone sculptures over three thousand years old. Call me ageist, but it was somewhat boring. All the heiroglyphics were cool though. Question for the day: How to scholars know how to pronounce ancient Egyptian names like Nefertiti and stuff like that? I thought all the verbal language was lost.

No clue. As usual I spent a lot of time looking at the contemporary stuff. I really like fields of black with subtle variations in texture. Not for everyone I know, but I find them very soothing.

Huge thanks to our cousin Leo and his wife Stacy for letting us crash at their place for a week!

art museum in Chicago
art museum in Chicago
art museum in Chicago
Mark tries his hand at artistic photography.

So that night (August 10th), we boarded Amtrak in the nick of time. Unfortunately our bikes did not make the train in time and arrived in Pittsburgh a couple days late. I know technically we could have planned a little better and arrived at the Chicago station a bit sooner to disassemble and box up our bikes, but whatever. We made it, and that’s all that really counts in the end. While running to make the train I got serious leg cramps carrying my trailer and could barely walk or move for hours. That was by far the most painful experience for me on this whole trip. I guess I can handle biking 3500 miles, but make me do some heavy lifting and my whole body falls apart.

As a consequence, I had to carry Max’s trailer around for a while… But I thought it was more amusing than a hassle. As for our bikes, I would later discover (from my Amtrak trip from Providence to Portland) that it doesn’t matter how on-time you are; sometimes Amtrak just decides to delay your baggage. But by then I’m thinking, ‘I’m back in Portland; I don’t need my bike until I start work 5 or 6 days from now, so who cares if it’s a couple days late?’


I slept on the train the whole way even with the air conditioner blowing right in my face the whole way.

I didn’t sleep the whole way to Pittsburgh. I didn’t sleep at all on the way to Pittsburgh because, unfortunately, a really annoying person was sitting in front of me who would not keep his mouth from yapping away. He kept talking to himself or the person next to him, wowing at the sites or complaining that he wouldn’t even be able to sleep if he tried due to his sleep apnea. No sleep to be had by the people near him. I suppose talking is better than snoring, but he could have shut up completely and just read or something… At the end of the trip, the person next to him politely told him that he would probably not have such a severe case of sleep apnea if he lost 100 pounds or so. I had to stifle a laugh.

Bike USA: July 30-August 8 – Muscatine, Joliet, Chicago (written by Max)

Well so like we predicted, it became a lonely ride after departing RAGBRAI. The Patels in Iowa City were super nice and the town’s small downtown has two comic book stores, free jazz, and ridiculously good food. It was a nice break from the hectic week before. Plus taking a crap in a non-portapotty was pleasant. The following day we rode to the Muscatine Phantasuites. A bit expensive but we stayed one night on the moon, sleeping on a velvet lined Viking spacecraft. To elaborate would just make it sound more weird but it did involve watching hours of Son of the Beach, Powerpuff Girls, and Johnny Bravo.

Movie of the towpath trail in Illinois
It rained while we were on the trail.

We followed a really scenic trail the next couple days, but the limestone and heavy storms really clogged up the cables and chain on my bike. It was fun having to lift everything over a fallen log, but it wasn’t fun getting about thirty mosquito bites. We met a guy riding from Boulder, Colorado to Tajikistan, raising money on the way for orphans. We had lunch together and I donated some money. After all, it’s for the children.

Giant Heart
Giant Heart at the Museum of Science and Industry
fun with mirrors
fun with mirrors
fun with mirrors at MSI
MSI Chicago
MSI Chicago
Movie of a 3D painting
Movie of a futuristic bike
MSI Jordan
Colin would’ve like this museum

We’re in Chicago now. Basically, we’re just visiting a bunch of museums during the day and reading all the comic books we bought at night. The food is phenomenal in this city. And I do mean CITY for once. There are nightly shootings and actual mass transportation to prove it. We arrived last Thursday night August 3rd to our cousin Leo and his wife Stacy’s apartment. Last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we spent at Wizard World Con 2000. Holy wet dream, Batman!

 Cynthia Rothrock
action movie star, Cynthia Rothrock, the Lady Dragon!
 Lou Ferigno
the Hulk himself, Lou Ferigno

We met director Kevin Smith and his friend Jason Mewes (Jay and Silent Bob), Lou Ferrigno (the Hulk!!), the actors for Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Biggs, Chewbacca, Sabertooth, and Darth Maul. Plus we saw Spiderman, Catwoman, Batgirl, Bart Simpson, Vampirella, Scooby Doo, and a really overweight Superman. I shook hands with comic book creators David Mack, Stan Sakai, and Mark Crilley. Oh man it was awesome. We got an enormous amount of free stuff, plus I won a T-shirt and watch from an action figure sculpting studio. I bought way too many comic books and artwork. Oh man it was awesome.

Stan Sakai
Stan Sakai, creator of Usagi!
 Mystery Machine
Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine

To top that off I learned that my Taiwanese popstar cousin Lee-Hom is getting into Hong Kong films. He was going to star in Black Mask 2, but that fell through. Right now he’s working on a Tekkan 3 movie!! Dang, I’d be willing to cut my left arm off and become the parapalegic-stuntman-who-gets-his-arm-ripped-off to work in the HK movie industry. Even if it is run by triads. That boy Lee Hom sure has a bunch of albums now. I gotta milk this blood relation thing before it’s too late.

Which reminds me, we visited our maternal grandmother’s youngest sister last night. Grand Auntie Six and her husband are the cutest couple. Especially since they drive a VW Rabbit. Thank you for treating us to dinner! We also visited their daughter Alice and Alice’s family. Thank you for the cookies and ice cream! Oh man those three kids are hyperactive and super intelligent. So far we’ve met some amazingly smart kids on this trip. They basically make me think I was a complete television junkie moron with the imagination of a very unimaginative thing. (See!)

China Buffet
Leo, Stacy, Max, Mark, Great Uncle and Great Aunt Six
Alice's Jia
Max, Leo, Great Uncle and Great Aunt Six, Stacy, Alice holding Anna, her husband Andrew, Ethan, Alex (or is that Alex, Ethan?), Mark kneeling

That’s it for now. I’ll add details later.

Bike USA: An update on Mark’s numbnuts

Many readers have been asking about my male problems. Basically, ever since I changed saddles waaay back in Corvallis, I haven’t had problems with maleness (at least not physically – I might sometimes still have masculinity problems). A new problem has arisen, however, and that is that part of me where my thigh meets my butt, that crease area, you know, and the crease extends forward between my um… sack and my thigh. (Man it is impossible to make this a family friendly site when you have to talk about these things.) It gets kinda raw there, and over the last weeks I’ve been cultivating some serious zits or boils or whatever they are. I have no idea what they are. It was at first on my right side, but now I have it on both sides. I keep reading that I need to use cream or Vaseline or whatever, but I just don’t think it’s worth it. I mean I’m almost done and it’ll heal eventually, right? (note to gentle reader… it isn’t all that bad, really…)

It’s also come to my attention that some people can’t believe I’m writing about this kind of stuff. But seriously, for those first few days before I changed my saddle it was the major concern of my trip. I mean, nothing else mattered. I didn’t give a crap’s ass where I ate or slept, all I could think about was my pain and numbness and wonder if I would ever be able to sleep with someone again. Maybe that’s kinda an adult issue, but, you know, I’m a male in my 20s. What could be more important? 🙂

Bike USA: July 23-29, 2000 – RAGBRAI!!! Council Bluffs, Audubon, Des Moines, Riverside, Iowa City

into Iowa and a shot of RAGBRAI
Movie of RAGBRAI and a new friend, Ryan

The first two rules of RAGBRAI, according to roadsigns that a local scout troop did as someone’s eagle scout project, are to not talk about RAGBRAI. The next rules are that it takes two to race, that if someone slumps over then the race is over, and that a newbie must finish. I guess this is a reference to The Fight Club, so maybe they aren’t to be taken seriously, but I’ll mostly follow the rules and just say that RAGBRAI (the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Acrost Iowa – that’s the Des Moines Register and that’s the Iowan pronunciation of ‘across’) is like Spring Break meets serious older people and family bike club touring with vehicle support. If you’d like to find out more about RAGBRAI do an internet search.

Self Kontained Alcoholics
Self Kontained Alcoholics: (left to right) Ryan, Jen, Heather, Luke, Jill, and Derek
Hey, a hay bike!
Hey, a hay bike!
a quint bike

Max and I aren’t that into drunken revelry and wet t-shirt contests, nor are we into having vehicle support since it’s contrary to the idea of a bicycle way of life (as I may have said before, we’d hitchhike because those people are already going that way, but we don’t want to be the reason why an extra car is on the road). But having 15,000 people escort us for part of our journey was pretty cool.

Mr. Pancake
Mr. Pancake
Mr. Pork Chop
Mr. Pork Chop
Hear Mr. Pork Chop
Missouri-Mississippi Divide
Missouri-Mississippi Divide
Team Bad Boy
Team Bad Boy’s bikes

Everyday we’d get up around 7 AM to find that most people have already left town. We’d bike a few miles to Mr. Pancake just as he would be closing up. Five pancakes which melt in your mouth washed down with two sausages and orange liquid. More biking, some drinking, then Mr. Pork Chop. Big fat guy with 12 grand kids working the grill. Best damn chops I’ve ever had. More biking, some drinking, some music, some nekkid slip and slide, then hit the day’s stop. Crazy waterslides in every community pool followed by amazingly good ethnic food. Fireworks and debauchery. During the ride we’d probably get passed by over a dozen recumbents, scores of tandems, about a billion road bikes, and shamefully a couple Huffy’s. (This last paragraph was written by Max)

Riverside, the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk

The second day we took a detour to see Albert the World’s Largest Bull in Audubon. It was nice having a swimming pool and bathroom and city park all to ourselves again. We met up with RAGBRAI again on the third day of the ride and then broke off again on the fourth to check out the art and science museums in Des Moines. OMSI kicks butt. We followed RAGBRAI until the second to last day in Washington; then we headed north to Iowa City to crash at the Patels’ house. The Patels are the parents of a friend that went to Cornell with Max. Hella nice place.