Wednesday, May 20

Further Planning

School has finished up and I continue to prepare for the ride. It's been nice the past two days to really devote my time and energy to thoughts about the ride. Prior, I worried my planning for the ride was at the expense of my schoolwork; it was just so easy to put down the theology and pick up a map. Not so anymore. Well, still easy, but at least I do so with a free conscience.

You will notice to the right I've posted links to rough google maps of the route. Though I will not stick to these exact directions (I have more detailed maps), they do allow for a basic view of the direction I'll be heading as well as some specific cities I'll be adventuring through. I'll be working from Adventure Cycling Association maps. The benefit of these is that they are specifically made for cyclists - detailed cycle friendly roads, bike shops, elevation profiles, etc. - serving as an added safety feature. Further, as posted in their Q&A section:

I'm going to ride across the country by myself. Will I be safe?
There are advantages to riding on our routes as far as safety is concerned.
Other cyclists will also be on the route. Because these routes are established,
folks along the way are accustomed to seeing cyclists. People are generally very
kind to cyclists, but it is important to trust your intuition and to use common sense.

Common sense? Good thing Mr. Maddux gave me so many Common Sense Quizzes in 7th grade.

Later this week, I'll be meeting with David Fraccaro, my friend and boss over at Sojourners, to discuss specific presentation content. Currently we are working together to plot out a list of churches who will have me. I am also drafting a letter to send to the several networks I've found myself in over the last few years, telling them about Sojourners, the ride, and ways in which they can help. Regarding health and fitness, I have decided to start a kind of conditioning. I'll be running for the next few days until I'm back in Greencastle, IN and can get on my bike. Then I'll have five days of getting my body ready on the bike before heading back to NYC for the ride early June.

Finding a partner to ride beside me has been very difficult (as I expected). Not many are ready and willing to sit on a bike for +4000 miles... My friend Ivan was considering it seriously, but recently declared, "I enjoy nothing more than jumping headfirst into something big and new... But this time I think I'm going to have to sit on the sidelines." Not finding a partner has caused a lot of worry and serious wrestling with the issue of riding at all. I continue to stay the course however, shooting for the June 1 departure.

Thursday, May 14


I've been wrestling with the idea for a good six or seven years now, and I've finally decided to do it.

On June 1 (tentatively), I will begin to ride my bicycle from NYC, headed west, to the Pacific Ocean. The end point is still in question and something I need to figure out within the next two weeks. I'm thinking San Francisco or San Diego. Or somewhere in between. I hear Santa Barbara is nice. But before I can plan the end, I need to finish planning the beginning stretch.

In one sense, I ride for the joy of riding, adventure, and long distance travel. In another, I ride to share with anyone who will listen about the situation many immigrant asylum seekers find themselves in once arriving to the United States.

I work with an organization called Sojourners (NOT Sojourners as in Jim Wallis or the magazine) which works with asylum seekers that have been detained in Elizabeth Detention Center, in Elizabeth, NJ. We take van loads of folks over to visit with detainees, build relationships, share life, and let them know they are not forgotten. It's a sad thing - many who flee their home country because of religious or political persecution come expecting to be welcomed into the land of the free but find a different kind of greeting.

Instead, they are immediately put into detention centers around the country, despite being non-criminals, where they go through the immigration courts in order to prove their case - that they do indeed face persecution in their home country. Between harsh living conditions, being separated from family members, predatory lawyers, non-transparent court hearings, and the difficulty that comes with learning a new language, the process can sometimes be quite dehumanizing. We visit to acknowledge their humanity, claim their dignity, and share life. For more information, check out the Sojourner blog.

Planning is going well - I've budgeted my costs, looked over maps, and this weekend will begin to plot out the detailed route so I can contact churches, Rotary Clubs, and other community groups that will have me (thinking maybe 2-3 a week).

Decisions still to be made:
My diet. Cycling long distance = lots of calories being burned .: What kind of diet am I going to need to not die?
Will I have a partner to ride beside me? (My friend Ivan is considering. If not, I may hold interviews for interested Craigslist adventurists!)
What will my book list be and will I take an iPod?

This is my vanilla! It's a small scoop by now, I've been licking it for years. So long now that I almost forgot it was there. Currently, I'm trying to get it all over my face so I can still enjoy it but get to the mint-chocolate-chip (Breyers, of course, for those that know me best) in time before it melts. Damn I love ice cream.