Sunday, June 30, 2013

Flat tires and sore butts

Day three just finished. Finally get to write.

Day 1, June 28, Fremont, CA to Pittsburg, 63 Miles, 3300 feet ascent

I stopped many times to fiddle with my trailer.
I rode 63 miles following my phone GPS. Which promptly drained my phone within 4 hours.
Hooked up my solar charger and made it. There is no way to have done the first 2 days without GPS. There must have been a 40-50 turns a day. Turns out riding a bicycle Fremont to Pittsburg is complicated. It was also hot at over 100 degrees.
Upon leaving I tipped the scale at 179.5 pounds with my hair wet and a full bladder.
My trailer weight was 57 pounds, which turns out is too much. More on that later.
Stayed in Motel 6, had Popeye's Chicken for dinner ....and breakfast, both a first for me.
I collapse into bed, sore and tired.

Day 2, June 29, Pittsburg to Galt, 50 miles, 1100 feet ascent

Temperatures rising to a 106 degrees by 2:00 PM.
Had a flat tire on my trailer. Turns out my patch kit had dried up glue in it. I am in nowhere.
My solar charger is not working and I am out of batteries. I decide to ride with a flat tire, which is very hard. Now here comes the lucky part. A quarter mile further on the road, which like I said is in nowhere is a building that houses a trucking company. Yes trucks get flats too. Problem solved. Nicest people. Send me off with extra glue. This turned out to be the only building for the next 15 miles.
Astrid met me in Galt , as arranged to bring some supplies and support.
Best Western Hotel. I like showers, very much.

Day 3, June 30,  Galt to near Jackson. 32 miles, 1700 feet ascent

Went shopping for a few more things needed. Since I did not have the time to do a test ride, I knew that the first few days would be filled with adjustments and changes. Was done at noon.
Astrid chose to follow me due to concern about the weather. I decided to make it a very short run for the same reason. 25 Miles to the small town of Ione. Both where good decisions, as the high temperature was 114 degrees just before Ione. We decided for Astrid to stay (and dogs) for the night. No dogs allowed in hotel. Nearest choice was Jackson, the capitol of Amador County with a population slightly larger than 30,000. That would be another 12 miles and 1500 feet of elevation gain. And it was still 112 degrees.
Still I felt good enough to try. I had several times stopped and sat in the air conditioned car for 15 minutes prior on this day. In all honesty, I could likely not have tried to go on without that.
About 5 miles before Jackson, after an arduous 2 mile climb, I chose, to my misfortune, to rest underneath a beautiful Black Oak tree. After I sat down, I noticed dozens of spikes sticking out of my trailer tires, and several on each bicycle tires. I had a total of about 50 flats at one time. There was ground cover, that produces these seeds with 3 spikes of 1/4" length of incredible sharpness and toughness, aptly named  Goathead,  I rode right through it. My bicycle tires were fine due to me having added stuff called "Slime" before leaving. It seals holes. And this was the field test. This stuff works.
Did not do the same for trailer. Both tubes and tires are landfill. Time to call Astrid. Got ride to Jackson. This being Sunday evening, the only bicycle store in the county, is closed. Mondays they are closed too!
I went to bed figuring the answer will come in the morning. It did, at 5:45AM.
I am writing this from the comfort of my home. I will do some regrouping, thinking until Wednesday night.
Thursday early, Astrid will drive me me to a spot near the certain Black Oak tree, a safe distance away and leave me to conquer the Sierra Nevada once again.

Lessons learned:

  • Turns out, I did have time for a test run.
  • I am able to consume 2 gallons of water and not pee until the afternoon. (Day three)
  • Pulling a 57 pound trailer slows you down by about 30%
  • Pulling a 57 pound trailer creates a strong rocking motion (forward, backwards) on step uphills, as you petal hard, transmitting it to the bicycle through the piece of rubber that connects the two. 
  • Trans-versing this continent self supported, at an age when you need a thicker mat to sleep on, is much harder than being supported, or having the money to always sleep in hotels (motels), leaving the trailer much lighter.
  • Dietmar can do it!

Total distance so far: 145 miles
Total ascent so far: 6100 feet

Sunday, June 9, 2013


My name is Dietmar and I am 51 years young.  I am about to embark on the second great adventure of my life.  The first being Africa at age 20 for one and a half years. This trip will take me from San Francisco to Washington D.C..   It will be me, my road bike and a little trailer made by WIKI.

The idea probably came to me about 4 years ago to do something daring, different, difficult. To test myself against nature and my own limitations. It was born on the heels of a very difficult time and has morphed into something very different since. Part of the initial reasoning was to also bring awareness to environmental issues, which I still intent to do. But the bigger reason for going has emerged as a way to find balance, find peace. I started collecting aluminum cans in order to help pay for the trip shortly after the idea was born. I knew it was silly to compete with homeless people for resources (which of course I generally won because I could run faster). I found it incredibly soothing to improve the environment wherever I go by removing debris, all the while saving some money for the trip. I had all the money in an envelope and labeled nicely, but unfortunately about a year and a half ago, I ran out of money completely and used it to pay bills. So I have to guess at the total I collected from the cans, but I think it was around $1,100. It will help. I've had girlfriends scramble down steep embankments, my daughters diving into lakes, jumping over fences along freeways, all in an effort to collect those cans.

The starting date for my trip has been a moving target and stands at June 27th , from Fremont, CA, heading east.  I am ill-prepared for this trip, as I did not take enough time to train, ran out of money and of time. Still, I feel prepared mentally, facing the adventure with a calm resiliency.

 I fear with ascending levels the following:
            -Difficulty sleeping, leading to decreased performance
            -Edible food

I am optimistic about:
            -Channeling the resiliency I have shown through a very hard 5 years into the loving core
              that I have
            -Sleeping better
            -Beating my ego
            -Making friends
            -Nature’s beauty

I will miss my daughters, my friends (except my gay friend Yan), my bed, predictability.  I expect the trip to take about 3 months.  I will plan the final route as I go, for the peace of the journey will show me directions I cannot see right now.

Failure is not an option, as defined in failure to stop if it gets to be too difficult or too dangerous.