Thursday, November 29, 2007

Day 10: Ugly Cows

Start: outside of Marathon End: Sanderson, TX (aprox 85 miles)

Today was relatively uneventful (see Days 2/4/5/8/9). A gradual 25 mile climb up to the Junipers and Cedars, Frank thought is was around 5,000 ft. where he stopped to look at what he thought were some big ugly cows. Upon closer inspection it was a small herd of Buffalo, Texas sized Buffalo, grazing in the highland. Frank called to tell me about his discovery, I told Frank he should be careful, they might be tired of eating grass.

The rest of the ride was downhill to Sanderson. On the way Frank met 3 cyclist who were coming from Jacksonville Florida (Frank's final destination). They were taking the same route as Frank. Seeing them only made it more real, that sometime in the upcoming weeks Frank would be in Jacksonville - home of the Wounded Warrior Project. The three friends told him their was a single uphill stretch which Frank was about to run into before Del Rio, Tx - then it was a pretty flat ride to Jacksonville - which sounded great to Frank, who mentioned there was a hill coming up that they were going to enjoy (see Day 8).

I is about 120 miles to Del Rio.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Day 9: Texas Hospitality - possible Jail Time?

Start: Outside Ft. Davis, TX End: between Alpine and Marathon, Tx
4,900 ft. elevation Sunny 68 degrees

Tired from yesterday's ride, Frank started a little slower this morning. He rode down TX118 and ate lunch in Ft. Davis at the Old Texas Inn.

"Do you guy's know about the Wounded Warrior Project?" Frank's standard introduction. He met Toby, the proprietor and besides providing great food - Toby became the local computer expert. Earlier Frank left the digital camera at the library with a note, hoping to get the pictures emailed home. However, Toby offered his help and before Frank left for Alpine, TX - the pictures were unloaded. I have high hopes that you will see some of them soon.

Another 25 miles downhill in Alpine, Frank called me to revise today's destination to Marathon. Seems he found a few 40 mph (estimate) downhill runs. As it turned out Frank called in at 6:15pm with the phone in one ear and a Texas Ranger in the other, as well as border patrol agent. "Sit by your phone, I'll be calling you back" he said. I told him it might be warmer to spent the night in jail. He laughed and hung up the phone.

A few minutes later Frank called to tell me that he was going to be camping on private property tonight, and that if he had any trouble, all he had to do was call the officer on his phone. Go figure, another new best friend.

Since the ride began, Frank has not been able to check email or this blog. Toby printed it all today and gave it to Frank. No doubt Frank will be turning on his penlight tonight.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Day 8: a big hill, A REALLY BIG HILL

Start: foot of the Davis Mountains End: 3 miles from Ft. Davis, TX.
Weather: Sunny slight overcast 50-60 degrees

The longest short ride ever ended around 5pm today. Frank climbed through the Davis Mountains up to McDonald Observatory and on towards Ft. Davis. The hill was so long and so steep that even going down the backside was uphill ! In several stretches, first gear was too tall so Frank dismounted the bike and walked it a few times. Once Frank made the observatory around 2:30pm, a Ranger told him the last 8 miles were probably the steepest hills in Texas - Frank didn't argue, he just kept eating his sandwich.

He could not help but remember the note he read on his cycling map the day before which said "mainly for cyclist with several years experience". Not only did Frank agree with the Ranger's assessment, Frank decided he would never ride up that hill again (and He had a couple of words of encouragement for the guy who put the route on the map in the first place). Frank may only have 50 days of cycling experience under his belt - but it is probably several years worth by now.

There actually is an alternate route that avoids this climb by going South from Van Horn, TX to Marfa which takes you around the mountain in not much more distance but Frank isn't taking the easy way out. "that was the hardest thing I have ever ever done" Frank.

He told me it was cold camping out last night and fires are not allowed up on the mountains so he felt a little drained starting the day. But things got pretty exciting about an hour into the ride where he crossed paths with a combined herd of javelina, cattle, and mule deer – the pictures are on their way.

Tonight Frank is at an RV camp. The host gave him the space next to the showers. Go ahead Frank - enjoy a hot shower, today you earned it.

(post by Sean)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Day 7: Quick, where is Kent, TX?

Start: Van Horn, TX End: somewhere between Kent and McDonald Observatory

Sometime after lunch today Frank made it to kent, tx (not to be confused with uppercase KENT, TX). Kent has a mercantile store and an intersection. No fruit in the store, but there was a microwave and a frozen green chili burrito which made a great lunch before heading down HWY118 which eventually crosses the mountains at the McDonald Observatory and then winds down to Del Rio which Frank hopes to reach by tomorrow. At about 5:00pm today, Frank was digging in (literally) and making camp for the night – he had just finished about 2 hours of biking and guessed that he covered just 12 miles. He is going to rest here before taking on the steepest part of the ride to the observatory summit tomorrow.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Day 6 Colder than "Average Frank"

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Start: Outside of El Paso, elevation 3800 ft, across Sierra Blanca 4,800 ft. End: Van Horn, TX elevation 4,000 ft (total ride aprox 100 miles) Because of the unusual snow conditions in El Paso, Brandon drove Frank to the freeway outside of El Paso to avoid hazards of navigating the on and off ramps among the Thankgiving travelers rushing home Sunday. At the start the roads were not good and the weather was still very cold (probably not above the 40's today) as Frank headed up the hill to the Sierra Blanca summit the road was much better but it was still very cold. Finally he made it down to Van Horn. This was a long ride which almost ended before before reaching Sierra Blanca under a bridge Frank was considering using for shelter tonight. After trying to set up camp he realized he would not be able to warm up here, so motivated to avoid a night in sub freezing temperatures outside, he got back onto the bike and rode another 25 miles to Van Horn. The last part of the ride before the summit was in the second to lowest gear, still not as bad as Day 3 coming out of Las Cruces but tough enough in the cold. Basically today was two bike trips in one day. Once in Van Horn Frank found the motel he was looking for ($29 motel he was referred to by the Super 8 operator after Frank asked if there was a really cheap place to stay overnight). When I spoke to Frank around 6 pm he had just arrived and was hoping that standing in front of the heater would thaw him out - eventually.

I asked him how his shopping for cold weather gear had gone the day before, he told me about a pair of boots (army boots I think) that Brandon had bought for him on base (Ft.Bliss). Naturally I asked "Frank, are you riding your bike in army boots?" he responded "oh yeah, I have to in this weather, I had to get rid of my sandals, I am from the desert - this place is really cold"

If you had not noticed before, Frank was riding most of the time in a really comfortable pair of sandals which I believe are now safely in the bottom of his panier bags - cold storage.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Day 4 & 5 Uphill to El Paso's Winter Wonderland

Day 4 start: Las Cruces, NM 7:30 am, End: El Paso, TX 12:30 (aprox 45 miles)

Uphill for 25 miles against a headwind. The climb was tough because of the wind. Frank never got into his taller gears. He told me this section was tougher than his first ride ever (October WWP bike run in Tucson) when he rode his daughters mountain bike - now referred to fondly as the "anvil". Once he reached the summit (name unknown), it was a much easier ride back down to El Paso. Now in his 3rd state, Frank was pretty excited because a soldier from Fort Bliss named Brandon was going to meet him. As it turned out Day 4 ended at Brandon's house - safe from the snowstorm that was predicted and finally hit on Day 5. (see below).
KVIA ABC interviews Frank with Ft. Bliss soldiers - tells them why he is riding. Hopefully we will obtain a link to post this video.

Day 5 - 11.24.07- Snow strikes Borderland; Transmountain Road closed

picture by Chris Babcock ABC 7.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Day 3 Thanksgiving in Las Cruces, NM

Start: Las Cruces. End Las Cruces, NM. The day began an ended in Las Cruces. The weather has changed for the worse and Frank added more layers and tried to ride out. The wind and cold was cutting through his gear (see the icy blue color of the map above El Paso TX, so he turned back to find some more layers of protection from the dropping temperatures and wind. Snow is predicted in the area by Friday. After a couple of stops at Wal Mart, Frank wound up at the Village Inn. After a great Thanksgiving meal, the manager, now aware of Frank's mission, offered his thanks for Frank's ride - as an Army vet - he was most willing to help out in this good cause. On the plus side, Frank found out that his tent was fantasti - as long as it does not get too windy, it will be perfect.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Day 2 - No Bike Stores In Deming

Start: Lordsburg, NM - End: Las Cruces NM. (about 80 miles).

The voice mail came in at about 8:20 this morning - "Hey, I just got my first flat. Bye" Frank sounded pretty excited despite the early setback - the first of two flats - next was the rear tire. The first one took a while - but now the patch kit is on top of the paniers so a total unpack was not necessary this time. The flat's didn't compress Franks' spirit - he kept riding. My phone rang again around 11:30 "Hey, I need you to do me a favor, you got to find a bike shop in Deming. I don't have any rear brakes"
Huh? What do you mean?

"My rear brake pads are gone" Frank said. After checking carefully (google) we found out there really are no bike shops in Deming (one is listed went out of business, apparently not enough cross country traffic to keep them afloat).

Check your maps - but it is probably 40 miles from Lordsburg to Deming. I gave Frank the news and he responded with typically Frank "I don't care - you can cut this bike in half and I'll ride it like a unicycle...I will just ride to Las Cruces, its pretty flat" And he rode fast because he needed to get there before closing (thanksgiving being tomorrow makes this really important). By about 4:30 or 5pm local time he found the Chain Drive bike shop and persuaded them to stay a while longer to replace the lost brake pads, put in thornproof tubes, slime and protective strips to prevent flats. You all know how persuasive Frank can be. While the boys at Chain Drive worked on the bike, Frank found a place to eat and tonight He will be sleeping at the KOA.

I asked him how he slept last night. "Cold" he said. "you have a cold?" I asked. "NO, my head was cold." he replied. So, add a beanie to the shopping list of lost or forgotten items. Hey - as Frank said "now, I am in a big town".

After all the excitement was over for the day Frank said "this is what its about, good days and not so good, this was meant to be like this today."

(posted by Sean)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Day 1

Day 1 - Start: Benson Arizona End: Lordsburg, NM
Frank made great mileage today including a fast start just outside of Benson, AZ. with a big downhill run past Texas Canyon. Gone with the Schwinn. The wind was at his back all day, so by the time he ended his day to camp for the night - he was just outside of Lordsburg, NM. Frank was pretty excited (isn't that hard to believe) about the first day's progress. Frank notified the inspection station that he would spend the night nearby under the stars and the only tree around. No Tent tonight - beautiful weather and hopefully a good night sleep.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Where is Frank Now?

Shortly I will be starting my trip from Tucson, Arizona to Jacksonville, Florida. I will stop riding once I get to the Wounded Warrior Project headquarters.

Proposed Start Date: Monday Afternoon, November 19, 2007

Starting Point: Jack Furrier's Tire & Auto Care (main offices) or just outside of Tucson in Benson

How You Can Help - Donate to Wounded Warrior

I am riding to raise awareness and funds for Wounded Warrior Project. Below you will find a great list of people who have already helped me out. Please support their businesses.

Most recently Jack Furrier's Tire & Auto Care has been working hard to get me on the road and starting on Veteran's Day all of their stores are taking donations for Wounded Warrior Project. Show our troops you remember.

If you would like to donate in person, go to any Jack Furrier's Location in Tucson or Sierra Vista, or donate online - Wounded Warrior Project has set up a special page for me which you can access through - look for the links on their home page.

People who have helped so far:
Lots of people have sponsored me based on riding the 2,000 miles or been out beating the bushes to get people to donate - please email me your name and I will get my helpers to add your name here.

Fundraisers over $2000 for Wounded Warrior Project
Furrier Family - Jack Furrier's Tire & Auto Care - thanks again to the Furrier's
Fundraisers over $500
Fundraisers over $250

Donations to support my ride

over $1000
Furrier Family - Jack Furrier's Tire & Auto Care - these guys are like family now. Desert Rat Truck Centers in Tucson, Phoenix, and Albq. and UPR
These guys and gals have spent a lot of time and money getting me on the road and creating fundraising opportunities for me. THANKS

Donations over $250
Bargain Basement Bikes - Dwayne - the best bikes and what a great crew - thanks Dwayne
Steve Chuk - Screenprinting - thanks for the awesome shirts steve - I feel safer already!

Discounts on merchandise
AlphaGraphics on South Palo Verde - Keith Cooper - thanks for the help with the stickers -
Summit Hut - Tucson 20% discount on camping gear
Adventure Cycling Gave me member price on Maps

Paschal "Pal" Alexander - a great friend who has donated his help in too many ways to mention.