Across America- 'Frisco to Reno

Discussion in 'Travelling, Commuting & Safety' started by uncle_punk13, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. uncle_punk13

    uncle_punk13 Guest

    Friday May 16, 2003-
    Awakening on the morning of our departure I was filled with many different feelings, thoughts, and a great amount of exhaustion. As you can well imagine I did not sleep well the night before departure. It was very close to like being a kid on Christmas eve. I was a bundle of excited nerves, tensed muscles, and energy. There were a million thoughts going through my head all at once, and all at the speed of light. I tossed and turned all during the night trying to get some rest. It just didn't work. I tossed and turned, drifting off occasionally for half an hour or so, then tossing and turning some more. I lay there going over all the possibilities of the up coming journey; excited to be on the verge of doing something really great, and historic. I kept going back over the story of George, and wondering If I was going to get it right; if I was going to make a difference in getting his story told. All in all I had maybe three hours worth of sleep that night.
    My relatives from the greater L.A. area checked into the motel that morning. They had all come up to see me off on my grand adventure: my grandmother, my aunt, my cousins, and even the newly born Sean, son to my younger (than me) cousin Cassandra. Mom loaded up the first carload of people, and headed into San Francisco. The plan was to drop them off near the intersection of Market and Kearney, then come back out to the motel (in Oakland) to gather up the rest of the family. While the first load of relations was being ferried over to the city, Dad and I took the time to sit and catch up with Grandma. After a little while I wandered back to the motel room to don the wool suit, my tall boots that came close to replicating the 'gaiters' of 1903, my cap, and finally my riding gloves. I thought my grandma was just going to burst at the sight of her firstborn grandchild looking so dapper. We had to have a brief photo session.


    We left the hotel around 10:00 A.M. My father and I loaded up the bike, re-hitched the trailer, double checked our supplies, and headed out. Horray, another boring freeway ride.
    Having Reached San Francisco safely, we parked near the terminal of the passenger ferry that would carry me across the bay to the city of Vallejo, CA.
    Almost immediately there were two parking enforcement officers asking questions about the trip. They had seen the graphics on the sides of the truck and just had to ask about it. We talked, rather excitedly I might add, of the up coming adventure, we had a few chuckles, signed an autograph for the officers (that was kind of weird for me, but it was something I was going to have to get used to), then it was time to be moving up; up the long hill to the corner of Market and Kearney. With a couple of hours to spare, Dad and I took the long way to reach our destination so we could see the city a little before leaving for the Atlantic coast.
    When we finally reached the intersection we were looking for, we found everyone waiting for us in a little cafe on the corner. Mom's shuttle service had worked out splendidly. My Grandma Pat, Aunt Christine, Cousins Erik and Cassie, and Cassie's baby Sean, and of course, my Mom were all smiles and waving from inside. We all ate and had some laughs, while discussing the upcoming adventure. My Grandmother, Pat, was pulling her usual antics and cutting it up quite a bit- as is her usual, fun-loving way of life. She was making faces and waving out the window at who ever was passing by. That's my Grandma; I learned it all from her!
    There came a lull in the laughter and conversation; after a moment my Aunt Christine became quite serious, and with tears welling up in her eyes, began to express her deepest heartfelt joy at seeing one of us from the family actually be able to get out there and follow their dream.
    "I'm just so proud to see you be able to do what none of us has been able to. To be able to follow your heart on this grand adventure, well, it just makes me so happy. To live your dream..."
    "Well, harebrained scheme is probably more like it... ", I interjected.
    "No, it's the adventure of a life time! It's just so wonderful!"
    I wasn't quite sure how to respond to that, so I tried to be gracious, "well, uh, thank you."
    So much for graciousness, my usual awkward and clumsy manner had come crashing through once again. Oh well, on to other things.
    We stepped out of the cafe into the warm afternoon sun on the crowded street corner of Market and Kearney. A crowd had begun to gather around this strange young man in his faux Edwardian garb and his amazing antique looking machine. Suddenly I heard someone asking my name more than calling it out.
    It was Ron Rennie who had come up to see us off and capture some video footage.
    Ron is a wonderful cheery fellow and it has been my pleasure to get to know him over the course of this adventure. He is an avid motorcycle enthusiast as well as an independent filmmaker who has documented motorcycle tours the world over. Ron is also just one of the nicest fellows you would ever want to meet.
    The time had come- there was a crowd gathered 'round, it seemed as though cameras were being pointed and clicked in every direction I turned, and my heart set to pounding. I could feel the blood rushing and roaring in my ears with every pulse. My head began reeling and everything began to blur together and happen so fast that in my own memory it's rather hard to recall. All I can picture is like something from an old 'B' movie; these weird swirling, blurring, images of faceless people with cameras flashing everywhere I turned and people shaking my hand. I was hard at work fighting my natural instincts to run the hell away from all that attention.

    Friday May 16, 2003- 2:30 P.M.
    At precisely 2:30 on the afternoon of May16, 2003 I hugged my Mom, then my Grandma, and on down the line. I then climbed aboard that beast of a bicycle and with a wave I began pedaling down the street. Exactly one hundred years later, down to the exact minute mind you, after my inspiration George A. Wyman, I was off to pay tribute to that same gentleman whose story had so captured me.


    The engine fired and I immediately almost hit the back of a stopped bus. The engine stalled, and I nearly lost my footing in a slick of some sort of automobile fluid.
    So much (once again) for instilling in anyone a sense of awe.
    Riding that few miles down the hill to catch the ferry was probably the worst traffic of my entire journey- I don't drive in that sort of traffic, let alone ride a moto-bike in anything like that. I nearly became a hood ornament a number of times, not to mention all of a sudden the lane becomes a bus stop lane, or a turn only lane. The traffic is bumper to bumper and well; you've just got to weave in and out of that mess on a wish and a prayer.
    I made it down to the bottom of the hill alive and without incident, and was waiting for a traffic signal to turn green, when it finally turned I began to pedal and the good pedal snapped right off! I clobbered myself pretty good on the fuel tank in a rather sensitive area of my person when that happened, but managed to get through my left turn into the far right lane, and pulled over at the curb. This was not a good sign.
    I was hoping that this was not the ominous voice of things to come on this journey. I walked the bike along the waterfront and went down to the ferry terminal. I leaned the bike against the building there and called Dad on the cell phone that he and I had been issued.
    I hate cell phones and swore I would never have one. I found out that this was another one of those tools that was almost as important as the bailing wire, although I still hate the bloody things!
    We had stopped at a store to purchase new pedals while still in Washington, and had already replaced the other one that had broken two days before in Tenino, Washington.
    After a few rings, "Hello."
    "Hey Dad, I need you to bring me that other pedal."
    "What?" (Bloody cell phones)
    "I'm down here at the ferry dock, my pedal snapped off; I need you to bring the other one down here so I can fix it."
    "You need the other pedal?"
    Getting rather exasperated, as I don't really care to talk on the phone much anyway, "YES!"
    "No particular reason, I just thought I'd give myself something to do while waiting for the ferry."
    "I'll explain when you get over here. Oh, and bring a 5/8 of an inch wrench with you."
    "Okay, bye."
    "Yeah, bye."
    Dad showed up in short time and we had that pedal switched in no time. Those el cheapo mountain bike pedals never gave me a lick of trouble through the whole journey! I've still got them in the 'Box O' Parts' in my shop, along with what's left of my trusty steed.
    The rest of the clan showed up and there was this electric, nervous, energy in the air surrounding this odd little group staring out over the San Francisco Bay as we waited for the ferry.
    I rolled the bike up the ramp towards the ferry; when we reached the actual ramp that boards the vessel we were promptly told to stop, that we absolutely, under no circumstances what so ever, could we bring that vehicle on the passenger ferry. I said "Okay."
    Turning to my father I instructed him, "You take the bike, load it up in the truck and I'll see you in a couple of hours in Vallejo."
    The official who had stopped us was still eyeing me, in my costume mind you, rather suspiciously.
    "What is this you're doing?" he asked politely, "It looks like you're doing some sort of history thing or something."
    That was our cue!
    Dad and I began a verbal tag team assault about the finer points of this historic recreation.
    "That's really something!" the official exclaimed, "but I'm afraid the coast guard regulations prohibit the transport of gasoline on the passenger vessels."
    "Oh that's cool, no worries. We had kind of guessed that something like this might happen. No big deal."
    "Well, hold on a minute, let me see what we can do, seeing how you're doing this for historical purposes and all..."
    "Hey Dad, hold on a second!" I looked to see that Dad had already rolled the bike about halfway down the terminal.
    Dad had, evidently, not heard me, so the two ferry guards began yelling at him with me.
    The official whom I had been speaking with sent his partner off somewhere and was telling Pop and I that maybe we could figure something out.
    The next thing I know there's the Captain of the boat shaking my hand and saying how sorry he was but that there really wasn't anything he could do.
    Then said a bit more quietly, "Do you see that bike rack up front there?"
    I nodded, "Yeah."
    "Don't say anything just lock it up and get inside. I could lose my job and my captain's license if anyone hears about this..."
    I winked at him and, with a devilish grin, asked "Say anything about what?"
    We shook hands and those ol' boys wished me luck on my trip. I locked up the bike, went inside, and sat down next to a window.

    Once on board, I settled in for the ride and had to get right back up again as I had forgotten, in my haste and excitement, to purchase my ticket. So I wandered on back down stairwell to the cashier (not an easy task on a moving boat for a land lover), purchased my ticket, then handed it over to the steward guy. I settled back in my seat (again), pulled the journal out of my back pack, and wrote for a bit:
    "I'm sitting here quietly, being stared at by more than a few of the other passengers around me due to the costume I guess, gazing out the window I'm in a bit of a shock as this is really happening. I've taken that first step of 3,000 miles and everything has a gauzy dream-like quality. It's all very surreal and woozy.
    We passed Alcatraz, Angel Island, and just now Mare Island with it's grand shipyards. The fella' forward of me is talking to those seated around him about all the little sights along this route. He is quite the wealth of historic information. I wonder if he really knows what he's talking about or if he's just trying to sound important...?
    It really is a beautiful view; with the choppy water reflecting little droplets of sunlight, oddly enough, in a strange way, it's like the vast fields of morning's golden dew that I remember from childhood. I guess I'll settle back and read my book some more, as there's not much else to write about or to do but wait at this point."
    We pulled into the ferry terminal and I unlocked the bike from the rack, then nonchalantly walked it off the ship. I looked around in wide-eyed wonder at the ferry docks in Vallejo, California. I had just completed the first leg of the hard, long, tired journey ahead. It was amazing. I found a bench and locked my bike to it then sat down, thinking "this had better get a little more exciting pretty soon. I really haven't done anything other than sit on benches and in various vehicles transporting this damned ol' moto-bike around."
    I met up with Ron Rennie while waiting for Dad to show up. We shot some video footage and talked mostly about George and his journey, while also speculating about my own personal odyssey.
    When Dad finally arrived we loaded up the bike into the truck (there were no safe roads to ride upon, it was all limited access highway for quite a ways. Oh goody! Another car ride.) We took possession of the video camera that was being loaned to us by Ron and rolled out.

    My journey up to this point, although exciting, was still rather uneventful. The ferry ride was nice and pleasant; it gave me time to reflect upon the long trip ahead. I still really had no idea of what I was in for. Soon the anticipation would be over and I would be right in the thick of it. We traveled along for quite a bit until we came upon a wide spot on the side of the road. We pulled in to set-up our camp for the night, had dinner, and were just sort of relaxing when a faint sound came drifting into the trailer. I peered outside from the door of the camper to see an owl land upon a limb of a massive dead old tree. Dad and I were watching the owl when suddenly out of nowhere a second owl swoops down to the field and snags some sort of critter for dinner, then flies up to a limb on the tree. Pop and I continued watching amazed at the fact that, let alone seeing one owl, but that there were two. Suddenly there are two more owls sitting comfortably in this tree. It was nothing short of incredible and amazing! This whole scene was awe inspiring to be quite honest. We sat gazing at these owls in wonderment as the sun sank lower and lower in the western sky. Finally I decided to drift off to sleep, as the events of the day had finally caught up and I could no longer keep my eyes open. I crawled into my sleeping bag, and drifted of to sleep; Sort of.

    May 17, 2003-

    The next morning, May 17th, I awoke rather tired as I had not had but maybe three hours of sleep. The road that we were camping alongside was not nearly as less traveled as we had originally though. Plus, we were across the street from a raceway that had been running races halfway through the night and had trailer bringing in and unloading racecars then leaving all night long. I also had to chase off some intoxicated characters of rather 'questionable reputation' at one point during the night. I hung around outside the camper until Dad woke up, we then had a nice breakfast, packed our gear, and I removed the motor bicycle from the bed of the truck. We hitched the camper back up to the truck, and got ready to roll.
    I fired up that bike and eased out on down the highway through the rich fertile farm country of Upper California. From my viewpoint, it seemed that California truly is the garden state. Gazing around perched upon the saddle of my bike I could have sworn we had entered right into the Garden of Eden. I believe that it could not have been too much different from George's view back in 1903. I was really enjoying this luxuriant multi-hued green perspective. I came around a bend in the road, and there alongside the road, working the fields, were some migrant farm hands looking eerily similar to George's description from a hundred years ago! At that point something came to life inside of me; I took that as a sign, and thus I knew without fail that this truly was it. Having come to this conclusion, I settled into the saddle and was ready for this great adventure.
    I continued along through the lush valley farmland for as long as I could. When I came to a point where I could no longer ride, we loaded the bike into the truck once again and drove. The road ended and emptied on to a limited access highway, so there was no choice but to load up and roll along by way of the support vehicle.
    I would like to interject at this point about loading the bike into the truck. It just isn't as simple as putting the bike into the back of the pick-up as we have a canopy on the truck and are pulling a pop-up tent trailer. Whenever we load or unload the bike the routine goes something like this:
    We pull into a spot with enough room to maneuver, stop the vehicle, unhitch the lock on the tow ball, then we grab the blocks for the trailer stand and the wheel blocks out of the truck bed. Then we undo the safety chains and the wiring block, block the wheels of the trailer, crank down the jack leg, and raise the hitch off the ball. Dad pulls the truck forward, we load (or unload the bike whichever the case might be), laying it on it's side- which is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Then Dad backs the truck up with me guiding him, we then reverse the process head on down the road. I say this here so that you will understand what is really involved in loading and unloading the bike when I mention it. I also would like to refrain from describing it every time we do it as this narrative would rapidly become one tedious series of hitching and unhitching the trailer.
    Anyway, we drove through to Napa, and once on the outside of town we unloaded the bike. I rode the twisted serpentine highway 121 through the hills and valleys to the intersection of 121 and 128. There at the corner is a small watering hole where motorcyclists and bicyclists alike tend to stop, re-group, re-hydrate, then head out. I was drinking some water and eating an energy bar thing (made primarily from ground up dates and beauty bark if you ask me) while speaking with some of the other folks refueling themselves, when the cell phone rings:
    "Yeah, Where the hell are you?!?!" (Dad tends to worry way too much. he calls like every two minutes it seems like)
    "I'm at the watering hole at the intersection of 121 and 128."
    "Well I'm way up the road; I'll wait here. Hurry up."
    "Yeah, bye."
    Dad had apparently continued along Highway 128 toward Winters. I finished up my conversation and headed out. I was not but maybe 500 feet away from there when I had my first (and only) encounter with a rattlesnake. I was getting up to speed and saw what I thought to be a stick in the road; When I was nearly on top of it I realized it was a rattlesnake trying to mind it's own business and cross the road. I yanked my leg up with lightning swiftness, while the snake jerked back with only slightly less swiftness. I continued on for a few seconds, all shaking and trembly at the surprise I had just found, when the engine began to sputter and choke out.
    "What gives?!?!" I looked down to find that when I had jerked my leg up, I had inadvertently turned the choke switch on the carburetor to the 'full on' position. I reached down switched the choke off; the bike smoothed out and came back to running nicely, so I continued on down the road. I rode the highway up through the hills and around Lake Berryessa, and Monticello Dam; what a magnificent view there was to be had. The landscape was glorious; I mean it was nearly indescribable. On one side I had these red rock cliff formations with little bits of scrubby plants scattered here and there upon them. On the other was a fair drop down to the valley and river, and after passing the dam, I could view the man made lake while across the other side were more hills and rock formations. At some points the road would become very narrow and roll around a sharp, blind corner between rock walls that had been carved by blasting a millennia ago. I leaned the bike and rolled through the switchback curves effortlessly, letting off the throttle, leaning left, and once halfway through, with a twist of the throttle, the bike would straighten right up. Then once again, only leaning in the other direction this time, to do the same. Oh boy, there is nothing else on this earth like that! There is nothing at all like that sort of ride. It is as close as a human being can come to having a set of wings to fly. If you haven't experienced it for yourself then there's really nothing I can say that will ever come close to giving you an understanding of it, period.
    I passed Dad in the support vehicle on the side of the road, and rode into Winters, California. It was about 12:00 Noon so we stopped at a little roadside restaurant. We stood next to the trailer in the only shade and ate our sack lunches. I felt the need to relieve myself so I went into the restaurant. At the counter was one of the most drop-dead, gorgeous, knockouts I have ever seen. I asked where the facilities were and, afterwards, felt the need for caffeine. I bought a cup of coffee and tried to have a conversation with that petite Latino gal. She was not having any of that, (story of my life man...) so I went back outside. It was well after 12 o' clock noon by then so I climbed aboard that bike, at which I had become very proficient by this time I might add, and we continued on towards Davis. Riding into Davis was pleasant, and I didn't even go off course. Once into Davis, I had a slightly less than stellar dismount.
    We pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall to load the bike up. My riding glove somehow got twisted up with the throttle grip. The engine revved up and I shot up over the curb into a grassy strip, struck a lamp post and promptly fell over in a tangle of mostly knees, elbows, and bicycle. I quickly looked around to see if anyone had seen me. Of course, a few passerby and my father had seen this keystone maneuver. He was laughing pretty good and there were a couple of younger girls not far away snickering. Realizing how it must have looked- a startled expression on my face and my legs flapping around wildly, I couldn't help but laugh a bit at myself. We loaded up the bike and drove until we hit East Nicolaus, where we set-up camp in the gravel parking lot of the general store.


    The town of East Nicolaus itself is nothing more than a crossroads. Four corners with a general store on one corner and across the street on another is a "Dairy Freeze" type burger stand, and a firehouse.

    March 18th, 2003- 8:30 A.M.

    The next morning I again went through the morning ritual of changing the crankcase oil in the bike (I change the crankcase oil everyday, religiously), and tightening whatever may have rattled loose during the previous day. I climbed aboard and began pedaling, again stating to Pop how proficient I had become at the ritual of starting that old beastie. Dad and I shot some photos and some video footage, and then continued on. I rode from East Nicolaus to Trowbridge, then on towards Colfax upon some of the vilest road surfaces I would encounter.
    I have to stop right here though and speak my piece about our so called "modern'" roads. We all agree that George A. Wyman himself would have been most pleased with today's system of asphalted roadways, but there are sections of highway that I almost think George may have preferred to 'bump the ties', when considering the conditions of some of these roads I was riding was comparable to riding down the backs of alligators. It was just down right painful in some places! At one point we once again had to load up the bike, and drive along for a while. We spotted a strip mall in Auburn, CA and Dad pulled in to go get something. I took a moment to call my buddy Tom back home. It was a short conversation, just where I was and how I was doing, what he was up to, blah, blah, blah, etc. Just small talk you know, but I needed those voices all along this trip. My friends (and that damn bloody cell phone) were an inspiration many times on this voyage.
    Dad came out all excited. He had just picked up a little transistor radio to listen to in the truck while driving and at night in the camper. That little radio was a bit of a salvation at times as well. We decided to unload the bike and I'd ride it for as long as I could.

    Somewhere along this route Dad and I got separated and we just couldn't quite get back together, after a few conversations via the cell phone we decided just to go ahead on and meet in Colfax. No offense intended towards my father, as he was a rock and one hell of a good sport through this two month ordeal, and don't get me wrong I absolutely needed that support vehicle, but that period of riding with no support vehicle or anything was the greatest! I was just rolling along through the forested hills of the old mining country. In fact I passed by a mining camp that had been fixed up into a tourist area. I didn't stop but I sure felt as if I had done the time warp back to George's day. As I rolled into Colfax once again I felt some of George's heartache. My coaster brake was not working. nothing at all so it was time for the first of the many rebuilds to come.

    Yup. We wandered around town for a spell, bought a cast iron frying pan (which one of the members of the team had forgotten to pack), took some pictures in the historic area, ate some lunch, and then went to set up camp for the night on the outskirts of town. We found a nice grassy area behind a long abandoned restaurant. A burly fella came along to find out what we thought we were doing. Once we explained him the finer details of our adventure he was all smiles and said that we were welcome to stay as long as we needed or wanted to and that if we needed anything at all his house was just right over the hill.
    I'm finding that people are really into what we're doing; that just seems top be the nature of this journey. We are being treated like family or preferred guests when folks get wind of this celebration ride.
    With the box of spare parts from Brian Crawford, I set to rebuilding that ol' 1940's New Departure Model D rear coaster hub. After getting it all back together, with hands covered in grease, I realized I had no hand cleaner with me. I washed as best as I could, and settled in for the night.
    On Monday the 19th we pulled out of Colfax, looking back through my journal I wrote:
    " I didn't get to ride today for lack of secondary roads. That's all right I guess, but I want to ride the bike, not the damn hot, cramped support truck. We drove up into the mountains and I noticed the snow sheds that George had spoken of, and I could almost see him, his echo of the past, wandering back in search of the lost oil can. We ate lunch and snapped some pictures at Emmigrant's Gap (one of the places George mentioned in his text),


    then continued on and stopped at Donner Pass for some photo opportunities. My friends are all as weird as I am for we all wanted to see 'where they ate people...'. One of America's greatest tragedies and well known story of cannibalism..."


    We drove on into Truckee. We wandered around a while in Truckee, and just as we were getting ready to leave I decided I needed a 'triple shot' mocha. Sabrina at "Joe Coffee" was extremely excited about this trip and asked that we send her a photograph so she can hang it on the 'wall of fame' there in the coffee shop! We found a beautiful spot to camp outside of town along the bank of the Truckee River. Once we were set up, a fisherman came along and chatted for a spell with dad. Well, he was just thrilled with our adventure and offered to catch us some fish for dinner! So for dinner dad fried up those four trout and we had those served over rice.
    The next day just outside of Truckee we unloaded the bike and I set out riding. Now, the elevation at Truckee is right around 3,000 feet and I was already having trouble breathing due to the elevation. I live at an elevation that is pretty dang close to sea level, so as one can imagine my lungs were straining. I began riding along highway 267 to King's Beach on the northern shore of Lake Tahoe, at which point we jumped on Highway 28 and rode over to Highway 431 which takes us up over the final part of the Sierra Mountains and down into Reno, Nevada. Riding that bike up Highway 431 was really the height of the western portion of this adventure, for I really proved something to myself, and showed myself that I had something inside that I didn't think was there.
    Part way up the bike began to lose power. It's engine couldn't breathe, for the air was getting too thin. I set out to pedaling that heavy old, single speed, motor bicycle up to the peak, which sits at around an elevation 8,900 feet. I paused when nearing the top to look back and see Lake Tahoe shining small below. What a view! Dad grabbed his camera and a photo was taken of the bike, myself, and little lake tahoe, with more of the snow capped Sierra Mountains beyond that.
    In my journal I wrote:
    "Part way up the engine began to sputter and lose power. I adjusted the carb once again and gained little.
    I had to begin pedaling that 90 pounds worth of bike, engine, and gear up the mountain range.
    Due to the elevation neither the engine nor my self were getting enough air. The elevation (thin air).
    I took a water break at 5,000 ft. elevation, and the view of lake tahoe and the surrounding mountain range was just breathtaking! Gazing down from the snow topped mountains at lake tahoe, man it almost defies description.
    I had quite a time of it trying to get that bike fired back up, but I did manage to get it started again and continued on. the engine just couldn't do a darn thing, so I began pedaling up, up, up.
    At the summit the elevation is 8,900 ft. above sea level.

    there was also a historical marker. The signage proclaimed this site to be the first meteorlogical station (just here or anywhere...?) est. in 1909. Hmmm, six years after George.
    Of course George was along what is now I-80 (near as we can tell), but still, it's very close..."
    When I reached the summit I shut down the bike, leaned it up against the guard rail, and drew in a deep breath. I slowly unzipped my leather to let the chill mountain air shiver past my skin and help cool me down.
    After a moment of solitude with my eyes closed, I heard Dad speak, "Hey, look at what that sign reads."
    I slowly turned to see the elevation marker:
    8,900 FT.
    "WOW! I just pedalled that?!?"
    "Well a fair portion of it!" Dad was grinning ear to ear. just beaming with pride he was.
    I was breathless. I mean really blown away, not unable to breathe. The fact that I couldn't breathe, after pedalling all that way on a 90 pound vejhicle with the air so thin, seems like it should be obvious.
    It was right there, right then that a wave crashed over my entire body, mind, and spirit. I was never going to be the same again. A whole new person named Rif Addams would be returning to Tacoma, Washington. With this, I knew that not only could I accomplish any damned thing i wanted to, I also had the greater revelation that no longer was I going to have to take anyone's shit, ever again. I could do what ever I wanted as long as I was willing to suffer the consequences, whether good or ill, of my decisions; and so long as I wasn't causing harm to another.
    Yup, it was a real epiphany- one of the greatest breakthroughs in my time.
    Dad began down the mountain, while I hung back for a few minutes. I wanted tio feel this forever; I ould already feel the moment slipping away, but held it as long as I could
    I began my descent; No need for engine power, I just coasted and part of the way down I once again stopped to drink in the view.
    The highway wound down along the mountan side to just a pencil thin line amongst the evergreens; and across the valley (just on the other side of the mountain's wall) was Reno.
    I had done it! The first state burned behind!
    I watched dad wind down the mountain, continued to meditate and reflect upon what I had just accomplished. I ate an energy bar ( in ever thought one of those could taste so good) while watching cars snake along the blacktop serpent down the mountain. when the chase vehicle reached the bottom (appearing the size of a gnat), I began my descent again. At this point I noticed once again a problem with the bicycle's drive train. That bloody coaster brake was giving me trouble again. Already. I do not like what I am forseeing at this point. This just does not forebode well for the rest of the long journey ahaead...
    at one point it was neccesary to start the engine to climb a slight rise, the engine is running stronger but still is rough.

    When I was nearing the bottom I noticed the support truck parked on the side of the road with the hood up and smoke coming out of it! Aw, great. This is just what we need. As I pulled up alongside I realized the smoke was coming from beneath the fenders. It turns out the brakes overheated. We ate lunch there and waited for things to cool down. A neat older Hippie type woman pulled her Volkswagen over to see if we needed help; she ended up chatting with us for a little bit and let us know that the muffler and brake shop in Reno was only about 8 miles away. She also informed us that we had already passed the worst part of the grade, so we should be okay getting to the brake shop from that point.
    Dad rolled on out and I hung out there for a little longer, then headed out myself. We loaded up the bike at the bottom of the grade near Reno. A gust of side wind quite literally picked the bike up and moved me over a few inches, nearly causing me to wreck. That sure slowed me down. A few hours spent sitting in Arby's drinking coffee and reading my book passed the time while the vehicle was being repaired. We found a real nice R.V. park with laundry and shower facilities and decided to stay and play for a couple of days. I've never been to Reno or Vegas or anything like that, and I've never been in a casino, so we played.
    At this point I also needed to rebuild the bottom bracket, re-pack the rear hub on the bike, and just do some general maintenance stuff. So I did this over the period of our two-day layover.
    My journal entry from this time states:
    " The bike is running a bit rough and seems to have lost a little power. The next time we get near a Whizzer Dealer I'll see if they have a service manual that I can purchase. I spoke with Bob Johnson and he mentioned a few things to check and adjust. It's not major; really it's barely noticeable, but I do not wish to have it become a major problem..."
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2015