Crossing For Cancer

In between moments…

Posted by crossingforcancer on September 17, 2008

Hi everyone,

I’m writing to you from my tent at about 1 am.  This morning I woke to a 70-mile stretch of ride all the way to Green River, with my speed baramoter steadily decreasing.  There are thunder-storms where I’m headed within the next 5 days, but at least it will be cooler…

September 7, 2008

On my way to Green River I hear someone honking as I’m cycling along I-70.  I don’t like riding on the freeway, but for this stretch I didn’t have a choice.  I turn to see where the honking is coming from and see the largest butt I’ve ever seen in a car window.  Yeah – I got mooned!  So that’s what happened on my way to Green River.

Earlier today I was sitting in a restaurant looking at the “Green River” – it should be called the Brown River, there’s nothing green about it.  The ride here was tedious.  It’s sad to be going 70 miles a day with nothing to see, no towns to stop in, no people to speak to.  I’m just pedaling as much as possible.  I was going to rest up in Green River, but took a look at the “Brown River,” choked down some French toast and hit the road once more.

It’s almost as if I’m playing a chess game with nature.  She always wins.  I’m just looking for a few key moves.  The wrong one out here could mean disaster.  From hypothermia to being caught on the mountain at the wrong time, so I get going while I have the upper hand.  Plus, I want to get to Grand Junction to pick up my new wheel, Clif Bars and art supplies.

I want to take a moment to truly thank Cindy and everyone at Blick Art Materials.  They’ve been providing me with my supplies this entire ride and I haven’t run out once.  Thank you.  I really appreciate it.

Once I was in Grand Junction, I was pretty overwhelmed by the city lights – I need to get out of here and back to nature.  Luckily though, I stopped at a bike shop to get a complete tune up and get the new wheel on.  One of the mechanics, John, offered up his spare bedroom while I was in town, which was really nice.  Good guy.  I’ve wanted a day off for a while now, but the storms were rolling in, so I had to get ready for the steep climb in the rain and snow.

September 10, 2008

I made it to the town of Parachute today, in my opinion it’s a town to skip.  It’s filled with oil refineries and just recently had a big boom that brought a bunch of guys down from Alaska with diesel trucks working 20 hours a day.  An angry little town. 

From there, I rolled into a town called Rifle, CO.  As I was cycling through I look out and see a metal worker who has an art studio out in the woods with beautiful work.  It was amazing and totally changed my spirits.  He worked with metal and acids, which I do with my work in a way.  [My latest collection] EnvirOnomy was evident in these parts.  I’d look to the left of this little street and see two beautiful horses in a perfectly green field and then right across the street I’d see a bunch of guys working in an oilrig.  It’s exactly the last series I’ve drawn about – the clash of the environment and the economy.

People ask me if I get bored, and yeah, I do – when I’m on the road and want to take my mind off of the pain, I make up songs and lyrics using the pedal strokes as a metronome.  I wish I could right some of the lyrics down but it’s impossible.  I make up so many songs and just forget them.  It’s fun; I might have had an album done now had I actually written them down.

But, it takes my mind off of things.  I find myself acting like Bill Murray in Caddy Shack talking to the Mountains or a bird – you know, how he used to talk to that groundhog on the golf course?  It’s ridiculous.  I do end up talking to nature quite a bit.

September 12, 2008

I’ve been riding through thunderstorms for a couple of days now and am not far from Vail.  I stayed in a town called Glenwood Springs last night, which was really amazing.  They had a 15-mile bike path.  Imagine that you’re on the neatest, nicest, smoothest bike path in your neighborhood.  Now take that path and put it right next to the Colorado River, in the Canyon – it’s absolutely amazing.  Right now, I’m sitting in a little restaurant in town and got caught in conversation because so many people wanted to hear about my journey.  It got pretty late, but I left the restaurant at about 11pm.  I’m getting close to Vail – the hotels are really expensive and the question arises: where am I going to camp?  I’m riding my bike and I don’t know where I’m going, I can’t really see anything. 

The moon is starting to come out now, so it gets brighter with help from the moon, I wish you could hear the Colorado River swirling by as I write, I’m camping right next to the shore – a little finger of it.  It appears that I’m on hole 9 of a golf course.  I’ll have to continue writing tomorrow and let you know how this all transpires because right now I’m in the woods on a golf course – I think?  I’m a little worried about bears, but I have a bear repellent in the tent and the food all locked up in Tupperware.  I’m at about 8,000 feet right now and I can see my breath.  As the chess game is being played, I’m going to try to summit the mountain tomorrow, when it’s supposed to be sunny and 60 degrees, but you never know.

I’ll let you know what happens tomorrow – if I’m awoken by a bear or some golfers teeing off I just don’t know – we’ll see. 

September 13, 2008

Well, it turns out it’s the golfers that I wake up to – out on Eagle Vail Golf Course – right next to this amazing river.  I heard the golf carts driving by, so I packed up my stuff and headed across the fairway to get back on the road.  People had to wait for me to pass before they could tee off – not too long though.  It was 24 degrees and I shook the ice of my tent to head to Keystone.

One thing’s for sure – Colorado has their land set up well for cycling.  There was a great bike path for many miles to go over Vail Pass at 11,000 + feet.  I was looking down at snow – it was absolutely mind blowing.  At times, when I was climbing, which was steep but not too bad, I’m getting used to the mountains now.

I met a lot of great people on the climb coming up from Vail and going over the pass. I want to say thank you to all of the people that I met.  I appreciate all of your encouragement, especially the folks at Gear Exchange in Glenwood Springs – they hooked me up with a lot of much needed services for my bike and this Curious George stuffed animal.  Amazing.  One of the guys actually invited me to ride with him and Lance Armstrong, who is currently training in Aspen.  But, having to get over the Continental Divide before the weather took a bad turn, I had to decline.  Just wasn’t meant to be this time. 

After wrestling with mother-nature yet again, I finally made it over Vail Pass at 10,000 feet then I went down into a town called Frisco.  Of course, meanwhile I’m talking to a lot of people – I’ve seen hundreds of cyclists.  Descending down now into Frisco through and around this really beautiful lake, right nestled down in the mountains.  I took another bike path all the way around to Dillon and I’m now at the base of the Continental Divide in a little town called Keystone.  Tonight it’s supposed to get down into the 20’s.

As I write, I’m out in the woods at the base of Loveland Pass, having just left Keystone. The moon is so bright coming over the mountains – I can see the snow.  I didn’t even need a flashlight to set my tent up its so bright tonight.

I’m literally 10 feet away from a moderately rushing river; the sound just makes me sleep so soundly all night, I can’t even explain.  I’ve been staying fairly warm.  Tomorrow, I’m going to get up and summit the Continental Divide – or what I think the real Continental Divide is – Loveland Pass.  I’m going far above the Eisenhower Tunnel, which is what they build so you wouldn’t have to summit the mountains.  Yet, I’m going well above the tree line, one hell of a climb, to descend into Denver tomorrow.  I’m still playing the chess game with mother nature – it’s my move and I’ve got some good weather, so I’ll set out tomorrow.

September 14, 2008 

I begin my 10-mile climb to the top of the divide, which took me three hours plus with this bike being about 90 pounds, but such an amazing rush.  I was getting shakey about 1/2 way up because the protein bar I had for breakfast lasted me, well, no time at all.  At this altitude anyone would require a lot of fuel but I have no food.  There was nowhere to have breakfast and the town was pretty desolate.  I need to flag someone down for a candy bar or something.  At that very moment, presto, a mini-van pulls up with two couples inside.  The van was descending to the bottom of the pass – they yelled my name out and four great people popped out of the van.  They had heard about my trek from another cyclist I had met in Vail. 

They were so friendly and wanted to talk – I managed to say “hi, how are you doing,” but immediately followed it with asking for a candy bar.  I chowed down about 8 mini snickers in about 6 minutes.  They had so much food, which basically saved me.  I think it would have been really tough.

I have four more miles to bike to the top and my bike is about 75 / 80 pounds after throwing out a beard trimmer and some other random things.  The pain in my legs and the altitude made it really hard with the load of the bike, but ironically I didn’t want it to end.  This is what I’ve been cycling for from sea level – the pain, the beauty, the rush of emotion.  For all of you reading this blog, I felt that I was supposed to stay here and pedal forever.

It was a stream of emotions as I approached the snow capped tundra above the tree line at what I call the summit of love.  It’s actually called Loveland Pass: 12,000 feet.

For about the last mile or so, I was standing up on the pedals and decided I wasn’t going to stop and rest even though it was hard after 20 – 30 pedal strokes with the air so thin.  I just kept going, this was the moment of approaching the top of the summit.  My emotions took over then.  I forgot about everything my body was telling me – to stop.  I made it to the top and am standing on the snow with my heavy bike.  I was engulfed with amazement that I had reached the summit, of what it felt to be in between two worlds: the past and the future, but nothing except the present on your mind.

I caught my oxygen and looked around.  I knew my mom was looking through my eyes to see what I saw, and to know the battles of people suffering every day – with one pedal stroke at a time, just as I was.  Although, for me I knew I would reach the top and not have to pedal while riding downhill for a while.  Many people will have to pedal until the end.  This trek was easy in comparison to the struggle of the people of the world and especially those fighting this cancer.

At this point, I was sad to see that I would not be looking to the west anymore.  To know no more mountains, stifling heat or coyotes were in the future.  Nothing like that stood before me and the house where my parents live, my finish line.

I’m sure I’ll be safe with a new set of rules and challenges and will cherish the struggle to this point forever.  As I begin to descend down, I took one last look over the land that I had traveled and saw it all in a flash from 20 degrees snow tundra to 118 degrees of red rock.  I said goodbye and looked down to the 50 mile descent to Golden, CO where I’ll be taking a needed rest for a couple of days.

Pictures and words are just no way to truly describe this experience.  I wish I could do better.  I want to thank everyone who has been helping me do so, back at the starting line of this journey.  Thank you Meghan, for holding this operation together. 

Until next time… 

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6 Responses to “In between moments…”

  1. heather said

    right on, my friend! your words and tenacity are such an inspiration. we love you and keep you in our thoughts daily!

  2. Harold said

    Hi Scott!!

    I remain amazed. You are writing so well I can literally feel what you descrbe. You and your mother are having an everloving blast!

    Harold

  3. Hey Scott,

    Your commentary has been riveting. It is wonderful that you are able to capture the emotion of this epic journey, its ups, and downs.

    You are doing something heart wrenching yet also monumental in an era where such perseverance, and advocacy are not given their due glory. Your mother must be proud

  4. I love your journal entries… your photos… your sketches. I wish I was riding along with you.

  5. Just found out about your website from Mom. She said Uncle Charlie told her you were in Colorado now. What an amazing, unforgettable trek you’re on. I am very moved and so proud of what you are doing for others, you are an inspiration in how to live ones life. I know Aunt Bonnie would say, “to hell with that”, as far as participating in your journey. But I can bet she is so proud of you and is with you all to way. I’ll be following along with you now that I know where to find you. Be safe and enjoy the ride. Lots of love from Louisiana – Kathy.

  6. Sue and Roy said

    Hi Scott, we are one of the couples who were in the mini-van in Loveland Pass with all of the candy bars! We are so glad to have met you, you are a true inspiration to every one of us. Take care and good luck on the rest of your journey.

    Roy and Sue from Sussex, Wisconsin

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