Crossing For Cancer

Uphill Battle…

Posted by crossingforcancer on September 3, 2008

August 27

Well, Sheep’s Ditch wasn’t bad compared to the ditch created from the flash flood just outside of Las Vegas.  I didn’t make much distance today due to the lightening storm and I found myself stopping to take photos through the rain.  I thought I got distracted in the studio – wow, this is even more of a distraction.  I have to say, the culture shock from being surrounded by neon to nature’s neon is crazy.  I sit in my tent writing, red light on my head like a miner, and look around at the silence and the crickets.  I can hear the howling of coyotes and know there have to be scorpions crawling around the tent.

Today I came so close to running out of water, but was approached by a nice park ranger, named Samuel.  He filled up my water bottles on the way to Lake Mead.  I’m so grateful for people like him on this journey.

Anyway, the storm definitely cooled off the desert a lot – a nice 96 degrees.  It made me want to set up my tent on high ground, so I pedaled a little bit through the darkness to feel where the tent should sit.  When I’m pedaling and the time comes to stop, I just sense where it’s going to be – I just feel it. As of tonight I’m on high ground so I don’t end up awash in the night because of flash floods.

Last night I woke in my tent and thought I was going to blow away, the wind was up to 40 knots and the thunder was roaring.  I got up in my skivvies (it was so hot out) and tried to put rocks on the steaks b/c they were pulling up from the wind.  Got back into the tent and finally calmed down only to awake again at the howling of a coyote.

I’m on my way now, late start – it’s hot out, what else is new. The humidity from the storm’s kicking in and I’m trying to get to a small town called Overton (in Utah), after I get through the Valley of Fire.  I’m about out of water and flag down a truck that directs me to a marina at Lake Mead.  It’s so out of the way but I had to do it, just to stay hydrated.  I met a bunch of really great people at the Marina, but had to get back on my way.  Continuing through the Valley of Fire I thought I was literally on fire – at one point I got off my back and did a drop and roll, it must have been a hallucination or something.

I finally got out of the Valley, made my way into Overton and stopped at a small ice cream shop.  I’m almost out of the heat and I’m sitting here while the town kids are in the shop doing their homework.  I love this small town mentality.   In Overton, I checked into a hotel/apartment.  I met some really great people, including some construction workers and all of the apartment tenants, who invited me to their potluck and insisted that I go.

August 28

After my stay in Overton, I left full of food and well-wishes, from the potluck.  As I rode out I saw some beautiful farms, mostly with horses.  The morning light, I left really early, was amazing for the camera.  Pedaling for Mesquite at this time, before it gets hotter than it already is.

I went over the 500-mile marker today for the Crossing.  Right now I’m at 600 miles. 

I ended up getting to Mesquite finally – it was brutal.  Uphill pretty much the whole way.  Found the only tree in I don’t know how long and gave it a big hug.  I was near a park, blew up my air mattress and fell asleep for about two hours.  I woke up to a line of ants crawling over me.  I don’t know what the deal is with the ants.

At this point I’m 40 miles away from St. George and wanted to try to make it there, but had to go through an area they call the Gorge – a river gorge and highway that has no shoulders.  I had to race trucks over the narrow bridges so they wouldn’t run me down (on Highway 15).  It’s so hot – still in the 100’s.  I go to take a nice refreshing drink of my water and its like drinking hot tea.  I made it to St. George finally at about 11 pm.  I was exhausted, my legs felt like iron they were so tense, so I went pedaling through town at about 11 pm and had to stop almost every three minutes.  I thought I was going to have to sleep on the lawn of the bank; I was so tired at one point.  As I was pedaling through town I saw a Mexican Restaurant – I was craving Mexican, so I wanted to remember it for lunch the next day.

August 29

I slept for 13 hours.  I got up to the sound of fire trucks – woke up and headed down to get the Mexican food I was craving and the joint was on fire!  And this wasn’t a mirage – like when I thought my shirt was on fire, this was really happening.  So instead I left town to cooler temperatures at Cedar City, 50 miles away.  Cedar City is definitely cooler, but an uphill battle at about 20 knots right into my teeth.  I have a pretty good wind gauge – if my hair is blowing – than the wind is definitely at 20 knots (just take a look at my hair to see what I mean). 


I can only get a 5-mile an hour average at this point.  At one point I laid my bike down, to take pictures, and an officer came up asking if I’d been knocked down a few miles back.  Apparently someone called in a fallen cyclist, but I was just lying on the ground to take a picture.

Rested up in Cedar City and I’m getting ready for my first big climb in Brian Head, UT, but first I stopped in a small town called Kannarraville.  Kannarraville has the only all-female fire department, so I immediately call 911 to report my bike on fire in hopes of being rescued by an all-lady brigade (ok, so I didn’t actually do it).

August 31

I got kind of a late start today because I was resting in the cooler temperatures, but eventually headed up towards the top of the mountain from Cedar City. Let me just say that the landscapes are stunning, unbelievable, life changing. 

Started at about 9am, ascending from 5,500 feet to about 10,500 or 11,000 feet in a mere 25 miles – it’s one of the steepest climbs in Utah.  And about the shoulder in the road?  Well, there isn’t one.  I’m pretty much white lining-it the whole way and hoping, over the holiday weekend, that these trucks and trailers veer around me.  Pretty scary.

While riding up the mountain, I approach a guy on a bike about 11 miles ahead; he was resting from a day ride.  His name is Michael, a really nice guy, and his girlfriend Stacy pulled up too.  They were so amazing and offered to make me lunch, so we sat and ate and talked for about an hour.  Now I’m ready to approach this beast of a summit.

At times I’m only maintaining 3-4 miles an hour on the shoulder, which was so small I felt I had to walk a bit.  And meanwhile, I hear there’s a massive storm approaching.  Seeing the luminous clouds billowing up like enormous mushrooms, my sea barometer dropped pretty quickly.   Something was up, something bad was up.  But, at the same time I have to say that I feel so amazing.  My spine is just alive with chills.  Climbing this first mountain was so exhilarating.

Remember Summit Road?  Still have two miles to go and the weather is getting dangerous, with lightening. Of course I’m on the tallest peak in Utah- 11,000 feet, pedaling faster.  The air is so thin I can barely breathe.  Finally, I’m approaching Cedar Break National Monument, which is pretty much the limit.  The ranger let me peek over the edge and my eyes just rushed with emotion.

It’s kind of hard for me to express this, but I looked over this peak at the top of this mountain, and the tears flowed out of my eyes – I felt like my mom was standing right next to me looking out over everything.


I had to get going because the storm was coming in pretty strong and the lightening was all around – I had to get lodging and wasn’t even sure where I was going to go.  My spine was on fire with chills – it was only about 48 degrees.  The temperature dropped in a matter of minutes and I had to put on my rain gear – I saw what appeared to be snow.  Well, I was wrong.  At that moment I had to take cover – there was a massive hailstorm, so bad that I had to ride through about an inch of slush on the road.  Three miles to go, very cold now, I wasn’t able to shift my gears because I couldn’t feel my hands.  I was worried about potential hypothermia since I didn’t get my gear on fast enough, so I pumped my pedals as fast as I could to get warm.  I made the decision to stay in Brian Head assuming that I could get lodging because it’s a ski resort and it’s not peak season.

But it just so happens…. There’s a biking National championship race going on when I arrive!  I pull up to the lodge and wait for my order of pasta and hot cocoa.  It was a great atmosphere talking to all of the riders, with the bikes strewn everywhere.

I told one gentleman what I was doing on the Crossing and he generously bought my lunch.  Later I came across a man named Larry – a man that is amazing, only to realize that he is the announcer for the entire event for this National Championship.  Later, I meet the rest of the crew – Team Big Bear – a great, great, crew.

Team Big Bear

Luscious Larry

Dee Super Deelicious

Princess Patty

Jason Heiko

The Little German

Riddler Chris

They were so kind – an amazing group of people – we have a similar passion.  I rode up to the middle of the stage in the arena the day of the competition and right there, in the middle of the race, Larry announced the Crossing for Cancer and told the whole story to the crowd of 500.  I thank you deeply, Team Big Bear, for everything.

When the storm subsided I thought I’d head on my 30-mile downhill adventure.  Later, I realize Brian Head is expecting their first snow at 8,000 feet to hit, so I’m trying to descend to Panguich as fast as possible.

September 1 

I’m headed to Brighton Canyon right now and then up a major mountain – Boulder Mountain.  Out in the wild again without a connection to the outside world.

I’m going to be here for a little while longer, aiming to reach Colorado’s border.  I obviously won’t make it today because of all the mountain ranges, but I should be at my first Colorado stop soon.  It’s pretty crazy stuff.

Before I sign off this time, I want to thank Jeff and Josh for handling everything back at home base and Meghan and Chanelle for all of their work on the newsletters, events and details.

I’ll talk to you all again soon.


8 Responses to “Uphill Battle…”

  1. Gina DeGirolamo said

    Hi Scott,

    Just want to see keep on pedaling! You’re doing a great job and I know your mom is with you. I am up in the middle of the night reading PanCan stuff. My bro-in-law is getting treatment here in Los Angles. He lives in Vegas so I am his support team here. We are in a wave of great news. He seems to be clean right now of any cancer. Keep telling everyone you can about this disease and as my late mom would say, “embrace every bit of your journey will all it’s joys and all it’s sorrow’s”.
    Love to you,

  2. Char said

    hey Scott, glad you are doing well. I know mom is watching over you all the way. We love you in Texas, stay safe and see you in November.
    Love ya Char and family

  3. Karen and Stu said

    It was such a pleasure to meet you today. (It was in Utah, at the rest rooms off the side of the road. We had the green SUV with the mountain bikes on the back). I am so glad we can check your blog to see how you are doing on your amazing journey. We must have traveled today what will take you the next four days or so to cover.
    Wishing you all the best in your travels,
    Karen and Stu Hutchinson
    Lake Elsinore, CA

  4. Cousin Lori said

    What an awesome experince for you…keep pedalling and taking in the sights and feelings…you know your Mom (Aunt Bonnie) is truly with you. Looking forward to seeing you safely in Illinois!!!

    Love, Cousin Lori

  5. Guisseppe said

    Nice work G. I’m following your progress. Wish I was with you

  6. Marissa said

    hey Scott, nice pics! and them drawings are pretty sweet too…. we miss you and cant wait to see you and that handsome face a yours! be well and don’t take any wooden nickels!( but if you do,((take any wooden nickels)) give em to me, cuz i think wooden nickels are neato just like you.)

  7. Dana said

    Hi luv,
    I spent the last three quarters of an hour being touched by the adventures you have encountered on your travels, the strength of your spirit and the your beauty soul. Between ants in your pants, the endless generosity of others and hallucinations that you are on fire, I’d say you’re having on hell of an adventure. Your road portraits are unbelievably soulful and some of the photographs are as beautiful as any I have seen in museums. I know that your mom is with you in spirit every minute.
    Harold and I miss you tremendously. It is Sunday, Harold is in his studio listening to jazz and painting away, Paul came back from his CNN Internship at the Democratic Convention an empowered man and has started a blog entailed, I am working on publicity for my upcoming jewelry shows. Harold and I will be showing at the Pasadena Playhouse ARTWalk on October 11.
    We wouldn’t mind a phone call or two sometime just to hear your voice.
    Sending love and light,

  8. Jennifer Paddock said

    Hello Scott,
    Just checking in on your website to see how things are progressing. My husband and I chatted with you at the top of Vail pass in September. I gave you the green “Donate Life / Done Vida” bracelet. Wish I had had cookies to share too!
    I am so impressed with your drive. We have ridden up Loveland Pass as far as Arapahoe Basin and know how hard one can suck air at just under 11,000 feet. Can’t imagine having another 2000 feet to go and an extra 80 pounds to haul!

    Hope the rest of your ride is lovely and uneventful-I do enjoy being able to participate vicariously.
    Jennifer & David from Boulder

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