A message from the Connecticut Burns Care Foundation

Ryan and Dwight hope to raise $10,000 to support the burn camp, which will host 70 children between the ages of 8 and 18. They are determined to reach the West Coast as a personal challenge as well as helping young burn survivors.

Started in 1991, the Arthur C. Luf Children's Burn Camp is located in northern Connecticut on 176 acres. Every summer, burn survivors come to the burn camp, which is a safe and fun environment that helps kids heal emotionally and physically. The Burn Camp is free to the children, who come primarily from the Northeast and some foreign counteries, but any burn survivor child anywhere is welcome. More than 70 adult counselors, primarily active and retired firefighters and burn unit nurses, occupational and physical therapists, child psychologists and even a doctor will serve as mentors for the week.

It's also our goal to promote burn awareness and fire prevention and education, which we do year around. We sponsor a burn survivor, burned in a car accident that involved speeding and drinking alcohol, who speaks to high school students throughout Connecticut. We also support the burn unit at Bridgeport Hospital, helping to purchase equipment.

Thursday, July 31, 2008



Hanging out at Joanna's workplace


Matt's brother's Party

Matt and Annette

Breckenridge Brewery

Mile High Stadium

Cigars on Mr. Santone

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Warm Welcome

The Columbine, State flower of Colorado

Tonight is our fifth and final night in Denver.  We've had a wonderful time hanging out with Bobby and Joanna, and getting to know Matt and his wife Annette (make new friends and keep the old...). On Saturday night all of us went to a party at Matt's brother's house featuring "washers," an adaptation of horse shoes (a definite improvement upon the original).  Every one at the party was incredibly nice, and it was a real pleasure to meet some of Matt's family.  The next day the two of them took us up into the mountains to introduce us to some true mountain biking on the Peaks Trail from Breckenridge to Frisco.  It was only about a ten mile ride, but the terrain was a bit different than what we're used to.  Add the altitude (I think our highest point was close to 10,000 feet) and it make for an exhausting day.  Some parts of the trail were a bit technical, and I took a pretty gnarly spill at one point (Ryan saw it all and said he was surprised I walked away from it), but other than (and including) that it was a total blast.  Afterwards Matt and Annette brought us out to dinner at the Breckenridge Brewery, one of approximately one million micro-breweries in the area.  Matt and Annette are such beautiful people, I'm so glad we met them, and as we told them we are so happy that they are expecting a child in a few months, because they are just the kind of people who need to be raising the next generation of open, warm, hospitable Coloradoans.

Bear sign

Yesterday we took the bus to Boulder with Bobby and Joanna, and went out to all-you-can-eat sushi and bubble tea.  We also got to meet some of Bobby's friends who live there.  Today we took care of some bike maintainance business and spent some time down town.  Tomorrow, westward ho.

Go Broncos (this is for you, Corey!)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sidling Up to The Rocky Mountains

Matt is a former Division-I basketball player for Colorado State University, who also played professionally in New Zealand for a number of years before returning to the states. Now he gives private lessons and runs basketball clinics for young athletes.

It was our great fortune that our recent mechanical disaster coincided with just such a clinic being given at the high school in Idalia. When I was in town looking for information about how to get to a bike shop, somebody in the post office suggested that I swing by the gym to see which way this out-of-towner would be heading at the end of the day. Turns out he was headed for Denver.

Matt had room in his jeep for us and our stuff, and even had a bike rack (usually used for mountain bikes). "Man," I said, "we really ran into the right guy." We had a great time riding over the Colorado plains and into the city with Matt, and he invited us to come ride mountain bikes with him and his wife tomorrow.

So we cheated about 152 miles on the ground and about 1,500 feet of elevation in a jeep. Any way, we should have plenty of time to atone for our sins in the mountains. Now we're staying with our dear and beautiful friends Bobby and Joanna.

Friday, July 25, 2008


We might have gotten carried away with this one...but we were excited!

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more

The power lines couldn't bear to watch us ride toward the state line

So long, sunflowers!

We rode 70 miles, yesterday, to Idalia, Colorado. Lightning storms flickered on the horizon as we crossed the state line. We could see but could not hear. I suffered my fifth flat in the dark just east of town, thanks to the Goathead, a thorn which is apparently famous around here for flattening bike tires. Dustin's grandmother runs the only motel in town, The Prairie Vista, and he arranged for us to stay there last night, no charge. Ryan's first flat of the trip took place this morning, just west of town. The valve on his only spare tube was busted during installation, which he tried to replace with the valve from the old tube, but only managed to make that unusable, too. Now, we can't ride anywhere without first visiting a bike shop, and there ain't one of those (or much of any thing else) for another 80 miles. We'd have to go a bit off course to get there, unless we want to go directly to Denver. Looking to hitch a ride. Apparently, there was an armed robbery in town, this morning. We've been advised not to accept rides from any one driving a light blue mercury with a busted grill. Duly noted.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

For Pops

St. Francis - Kansas

Seneca to Washington

Dwight and I were walking in downtown Seneca, KS at dusk when I started talking to this really nice woman, Linda. She was attending the main street event she was directing, a Saturday Night Live in Seneca (a town gathering on main street where people bring their lawn chairs for a night of food, drink and free entertainment). I bumped into Linda as Dwight was talking to a group of townspeople, after a brief conversation she invited us to stay the night at her guest house. It was only a quarter-mile from downtown, we got to take showers and sleep in comfort. In the morning, she made us breakfast and let us check our email. Thank-you Linda, Rick and Kennedy!

Mike, the Fire Chief in Washington is the man! He found out we were cycling through western Kansas and eastern Colorado with only a couple liters of water, each. He stressed that the towns were going to get more distant and much smaller, with less to offer. As he took us for a short tour of downtown in his van and showed us a great spot to camp, he gave us some good advice for the road ahead. He dropped us off at the gas station so we could get something to eat but he was back in no time with two nalgene bottles he grabbed from his house for Dwight and I. We accepted with many thanks.
Then!...he came back with a camelback for me! (a camelback is a 2 liter water-bladder that attaches to your back like a backpack and you drink from it out of a hose- pretty fancy and expensive) He must have seen that Dwight had one and came back with his, which he gave to me. The camelback has been the greatest addition to my gear so far and I'm not sure what I would have done these past few days of 100 degree heat without it. Thanks Mike!


What a blessing. Today, they hid us from another hundred degree beating. Since Kansas City we've slowly climbed 2,410 feet closer to them (and to Denver), putting us at 3,320 feet above the sea. We've got another couple thousand to climb before we get to Mile High. I think the tallest of Colorado's mountains is about twice that (maybe more?). Hopefully we won't have to go that high.

I don't...unders...stand... what can this mean?

Dry Western Kansas Soil

This might explain why we're seeing more grazing lands. It must be hard to raise crops on this cracked earth.

We spent last night in a park by a dried-up lake in Atwood, KS, at the end of a 65 mile day. We had to spend half of our energy wrestling that brutal Kansas wind we've heard so much about. It finally caught up to us, and came out of the southwest with a vengeance, pushing us back while trying to knock us off the road. It had plenty of time to gather strength while blowing over those leagues of golden stubble left by the harvested wheat, or sweeping across the unkempt yellow and grey beards of the low rolling hills.

Speaking of which, the flatness of Kansas (if the northern part of the state is any indication) has been grossly over-stated. It's far from mountainous, but is hardly flat, either. Rollers all the way.

Yesterday was the third consecutive day of 100+ degree heat. The day before we rode 92 miles to Norton, where the sheriff's department gave us vouchers to stay in the Hillcrest Motel, courtesy of the local Ministerial Alliance.

What else have we seen in Kansas? Huge weeds growing out of the cracks in the road, giant ant hills, wild sunflowers, and over-sized bugs. I mean flies with two-inch wing spans. The biggest nuissance has been the grasshoppers that lie all along the roadside, who like to jump directly in our way as we go by. They seem to like bouncing agianst our spokes and clinging to our legs.

Entrance to a giant red ant hill

Open spaces

HALFWAY, BABY! officially

The exact geographic center of the 48 contiguous states

Usually there would be a picture of both Dwight and I but as you see, it's just me. Dwight is far ahead of me. He's been tearing it up since we got on route 36, across northern Kansas. He means business and I can barely keep up with him.

I was lucky enough here to get up close to him in action!

You can feel the intensity behind his sunglasses and look at those legs!

He's gotta eat a staggering amount of healthy calories to maintain this pace.

Who would win in a fight? I don't know anymore... My bike has gone 2,000 miles without even a flat tire.

This picture of the tank was taken at the town center of Atwood, Kansas, 55 miles from the Colorado border and another time zone! We stayed in the town park last night and I showered in some really cold, smelly lake water. We're planning to be in Denver in 3 days drinking Fat Tires with Bobby and Joanna, two very close friends from home.

Over the past six weeks, our friends and family have been asking for places they can send us notes or cookies along the way. Bobby and Joanna were kind enough to offer their address to anyone that wanted to send us some shtuff.

Bobby and Joanna

1412 Steele St Apt#206

Denver CO, 80206

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Original Futon

I spent the night on this 1940's-era futon at Dee's house in Mankato, Kansas (65 miles from our previous stop). Dee calls it "the original." It was Ryan's turn to sleep in a bed, but he absolutely refused. He is aggressive in his generosity. He says he holding out for a king sized.

Dee waited on us at a place called Critters, where the owner, Kathy, paid for our dinner. Dee's son is a cyclist, which partly explains her sympathy for us. But I mostly think it's just because she's nice. Her home is tastefully decorated in the paradise aesthetic. Palm trees, sea shells, bright colors, sun and sand. Nice. A little taste of where we're headed for. She has three cats and three dogs, most of them rescues, her most recent adoption became a mother of nine pups just six weeks ago.

Note: If any body cares, the maps to the right have been updated to accurately reflect our course to date, including all the stops along the way.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Atchison, KS Posse

We ended up hanging out in Atchison, KS on Thursday night, July 17. They happen to have a carnival in town for their annual Amelia Earheart celebration, which meant a busy town and many people to meet.
We stopped into the only restaurant still open at 10:30pm for a late dinner and encountered three girls: Natalie, Lexie, Christina. (who then invited the rest of the crew to hang out) We had fun hanging out but it was getting late so we retired to our home for the night, the Benedictine College dorms, thanks to Mike and Donna.


This is the state i've been most anxious about for the past two years and we're just about in the middle of it. This is the "nitty gritty." This is our introduction to the west. This is the first state where things are much bigger, longer and hotter.

We're traveling on the northern tier of the state, on the Pony Express Highway, Route 36, all the way to Denver and it's been over 100 degrees for the past two days.

So far, the trip on a whole has been concentrated with new experiences, new people, and new places. Though, I have been a bit concerned about Kansas because everything I gather from people i've met along the way, this state is suppose to be "nothing but wheat and pro-life billboards for 600 miles." (I've been hearing this ever since Pennsylvania...I thought these warnings would diminish once we approached Kansas and the people who know it best...but no.)

The most noticeable of the challenges from day to day is the varying terrain. There are incredible mountains to climb, huge hills to bomb and weathered pavement to navigate through. These altering physical challenges, like climbing mountains or riding through rain/wind storms are enjoyable, for the most part. On the other hand, the unvarying mental challenges, like the monotony of the corn fields of western IL are the most challenging, when you feel like you aren't advancing.

I guess we're just at the point of the trip where we just have to get through it. Colorado is coming very soon and the rewards of getting through Kansas are great. It seems like in many instances in life, the harder you work for things, the more rewards you reap in the end and there are plenty of things to look forward to in Colorado.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Next Great Flatness

Everything about our visit to Kansas city was awesome except for the dispute I had with the manager of Papa John's about our order which was not settled to my satisfaction. Oh, well! After three nights in their house, Jordo, Linda, Dane and Shane feel like old friends.
This guy knows
On the way out of Kansas City we stopped at a locally famous barbecue place called Oklahoma Joe's for lunch. The french fries were good. So were the onion rings. I had both, then felt like I was going to suffer a heart attack. Ryan declared that he was turning a new leaf on unhealthy foods.

Ryan spotted these guys east of Kansas City

Genghis Khan. All you can eat Mongolian Barbecue. Yessssss

Across the state line the famously flat Kansas was waiting with a couple of monster hills. By now I've learned not to take flatness for granted. I'm sure it will come soon enough, and we'll have plenty of time to get acquainted on the way to Denver.

I've never understood this arrangement. Does the toilet not perform the function of the urinal? Will they ever be used simultaneously? The proprietors of this establishment need to invest in a barrier, then this will no longer be awkward.

Yesterday we rode about 68 miles through the glacial hills of eastern Kansas. I suffered my fourth flat of the journey just short of Atchison, birthplace of Amelia Earhart, and that's where we ended up staying the night. We happened to arrive on the eve of a festival in her honor. Last night the center of town was lit up with a carnival, tonight there will be a concert and tomorrow night a big fireworks display. We met a few local girls who were really cool at a place called Taco Joe's, and they introduced us to a bunch of their friends. I got some guac and Natalie (Nathalie?) gave me some potato ole's for free (basically tater tots). We also made the routine stop at the firehouse, where a camping spot was recommended, and showers at the YMCA promised in the morning. Just as we were about to leave Taco Joe's to pitch a tent, a woman walks into the place and asks if we're the kids who stopped by the fire house. Then she tells us that she is the housing coordinator at nearby Benedictine College, and that she had been driving around trying to find us since her husband (a fire fighter) had told her about our situation, in hopes of giving us a place to stay. So, thanks to the determination of this wonderful woman (Donna) to help us out, we spent last night in a college dormitory. She said, "I'd hope if my boys were doing something like this that somebody would help them out." We showered, washed our clothes, and got a good night's sleep.

Audio Kinetic Assault in Kansas City

After a very long and late 80 miles, we arrived at Jordo, Linda, Dane and Shane's place in the Raytown area of Kansas City. It was about 11:30pm when we finally got there. We hung out for a little bit with Jordo and Dane and their three dogs, Scarlet, Paris and Cody before we went to bed.

Jordo and Dane play in the band, Audio Kinetic Assault. I met both Jordo and Dane for the first time, a while back in Madison, Connecticut when my friend Matt was recording one of their odler albums. Some of our friends back home play in the band These Green Eyes. Audio Kinetic Assault are good friends with our friends, These Green Eyes, which is how we were set up with a spot at Jordo's house.

We weren't anticipating staying in Kansas City more than one night but they invited us to stay as long as we wanted. We were enjoying it and there was much to see, so we ended up staying for three days.
The first place we checked out was the zoo. Jordo, Linda and Dane all work for the Kansas City Zoo. They snagged Dwight and I a couple complimentary guest passes and we checked out a good portion of the massive zoo.

After the zoo, we went to a Mongolian buffet restaurant in the Plaza area of downtown Kansas City. I had three heaping plates of food and afterwards we went to Gilhouly's for a beer across the street. Jordo sharked Dwight and I in some pool.

It was a real pleasure hanging out with those guys in Kansas City. They made us feel at home and hanging out with them reminded me of being with my friends back home.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Armstrong labrador

So I'm rolling up on this hill with one ring up each sleeve, ready to take it nice and easy--as a fellow on a ten speed is forced to do when he is confronted with any mention-worthy incline--when the blonde beast sidles up beside me, a fearsome, golden blur out of the barn yard. He's moving at a full gallop, making a b-line for my beautiful calves--I can tell he's jealous--I try to talk him out of it, "hey buddy, that's alright," but he's not having any of my sweet nothings, and keeps charging. No words are exchanged. He doesn't seem the type to waste energy barking. I look at him and he looks at me and we both know what's at stake. Actually, it's hard to tell what his intentions are, but I'm not about to wait around to find out. Thankfully, I've already set the contingency plan in motion--pedal faster. So, instead of dropping down into those reserve rings, I'm shifting up, thumping up that hill, trying to put some distance between me and that menacing, fang-filled grin. As I push as hard as I can, I start to pull away, thank God.

I'm over that hill and have got some room behind me, and I look over my shoulder expecting him to be slowing down and quitting the chase, only to find that he's not at all discouraged, still coming along full clip. Little by little he loses ground, but he keeps coming with the same determination. Over the crest of one hill, then another, he's always there over my shoulder, now on the black top, now on the grass, always moving in one direction. Miles of road pass under me and still he persists. Around the bend I think I've lost him, but then he appears, a yellow speck in the distance. It's almost more horrifying than that first moment, because then there was the possibility of escape, and now it seems that if I ever slow down he's going to catch up. I can only maintain this pace for so long. Approaching the center of town I think, maybe I can hide in one of these shops? They're all closed. Oh my god. I look over my shoulder once more, and he's out of sight. So is Ryan. I wonder if he made it. Maybe the beast turned, saw him coming, tackled him off his bike and gobbled him up. Hope Ryan can wield that hand pump effectively.

Then, I see that familiar shape in the distance. Ryan's coming around the bend. No dog in sight. "Did that fella give you any trouble?" I ask him as he rolls up. "No, he pretty much ignored me." Unbelievable. "Worn out from the chase," he offers. Guess my legs just looked that tasty.

Long day, today. 80 miles to Kansas City.

Hannibal, MO

After a long day on the bikes, Dwight and I checked out downtown Hannibal, MO. We celebrated passing into a new state at a local bar/restaurant with a beer. On our way out, we ran into a couple that looked like they had been well-traveled, like us. We talked for a bit and found out, Justus, the guy in the couple, had made a pontoon houseboat and was taking it down the Mississippi River from St. Paul, Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico with little use of an engine, just floating down the river, Huck Finn style.
He asked us to come along! He said we didn't have to decide then but we exchanged numbers and he told us to call him if we wanted to go with him, even if it was just for a day and travel about 20 miles downstream. After a quick talkover, we figured that the southeastern flow of the river would take us about 15 mile off course but in the end, we knew that opportunities like these were what made the trip so awesome.

We stopped at the Hannibal Fire Department after our encounter with Justus and talked to Mike, the Battalion Chief of the crew. He invited us to stay the night. We got to take showers and we even ate with the rest of the crew (they cooked us some brats on the grill).


Another dog chasing Dwight