Day 14, ninety miles from Las Animas to Pueblo, Colorado, has delivered us mountains on the horizon at last. If you would have asked me one year ago, or even fourteen days ago for that matter, if I thought I could pedal a bicycle from my home in Austin to the Rockies in Colorado, I'm not sure I would have said yes. To think that at Day 14 we have only completed 20% of our journey is totally mind-boggling for me still; the reality that I'm actually cycling to Alaska finally set in when I saw those jagged peaks on the horizon.
We've finally made it to Colorado; the Rockies' route is home. Day 13 has brought us from Syracuse, Kansas to Las Animas, Colorado – our third state border so far crossed twenty miles into the ninety mile day. This was, in many ways, our most difficult day of the trip so far, but we really pulled through as a team and got everyone through it successfully.
[Composed 6/11/07] Buffalo, Oklahoma is perhaps the most interesting place, in my opinion of course, that we've visited so far on this journey. Buffalo is an incredibly small town, with a population of around 1,200 people. Each year, Buffalo High School graduates approximately 25 students. I do not recall seeing a stop light in the entire town, nor do I believe there is a grocery store either.
A new state, a new landscape, but the same mission – Texas 4000 has pedaled into Kansas! We crossed the state line early this morning, twelve miles into our 90 mile day from Buffalo, Oklahoma to Dodge City, Kansas. Crossing the boarder was dramatic for a number of reasons: 1) we crossed the entire state of Oklahoma on our bicycles, 2) the landscape seemed to change drastically as soon as we crossed, and 3) I won my first border race.
[Composed 6/11/07] This is our last night in the state of Oklahoma; the Rockies route has crossed it's first state in it's entirety. An hour and a half of travel in a car roughly translates into a day of travel via bicycle – we're truly making baby steps up to our destination, but we're definitely getting there. For me, it's hard to see mileage progress without tangible indicators; I think this state boarder will help put things into perspective.
Day 6 – Ardmore, OK to Oklahoma City. Total distance: 105 miles; afternoon temperature: 95 degrees. Today was our longest, and hottest ride yet on the Rockies' route, and proved to be a tremendous test of our physical and mental spirits.
It's 3:45pm on Wednesday, June 6th, and we've just wrapped up our fifth consecutive day of riding – Sherman, TX to Ardmore, Oklahoma. As noted, the day started bright and early at 5:00am; waking up on a cold, hard, and unforgiving locker room floor. Underneath me, my Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad was partly deflated, putting the my hard hip bones against the equally hard floor – not exactly high class sleeping. But, I loved it. We have a checklist that each rider seems to question prior to our arrival in our destination city: showers, food, air conditioning, and laundry. If two of four of these our met, we're in heaven!
It's the morning of Day 5, at 6:16am as I type this entry. The funny part is, I've been up for over an hour this morning; the same as yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that – Texas 4000 begins each day bright and early at 5:00am.
Texas 4000 for Cancer has hit the road! Our team of 43 cyclists – some of my closest friends, among the individuals I admire the most – symbolically departed from the steps of the UT-Austin tower Friday (June 1st, 2007) on our way out to Cedar Park, TX. Cedar Park is a quick, and very short 25 mile ride from the center of Austin; our staging area and location of departure for our official ride beginning – ATLAS 2007, the 70 mile Day 1 leg from Cedar Park to Lampasas, TX.
A long awaited update...My difficulty in writing blog entries at the moment stems from two factors: a understandable lack of time, and, when there is time to spare, an overwhelming rush of topics anxiously waiting to come out, blocking any structured and coherent ideas from being put onto paper. I blame this all on Texas 4000 - my passion and love for this organization - it steals my time, of course without much opposition from me, and has given me a new consciousness that's nearly impossible to describe.
What an amazing year, 2006, has been for me - five months ago, I could have never imagined that this is where my life would end up. What started as a dream with Texas 4000 was turned into a reality completely surpassing any expectations I could have ever held. When you choose to take part in something as significant as this, a lot of questions, and a long list of doubts associated with doing something of this magnitude, begin to flow through your mind. Will I get along with this odd assortment of fifty individuals, with whom, come June, I'll be sharing every hour with? How on earth will I get in proper shape to ride a bike 4500 miles? Will I be able to raise the the necessary money? This daunting list of questions was very intimidating, and I think I can speak for most of my teammates when I say this.
City of Austin: I'd like to say thank-you, with every ounce of sincerity, for your unbelievable generosity and support for Texas 4000 and our collective fight against cancer. Personally, I've collected upwards of $700 simply from standing on your streets, holding a sign, and smiling from ear to ear - an impulse impossible to hold back in response to your wonderful support.