We have reached the end of our Christmas break. Dani went back to D.C. And I went home to South Dakota. We have been in Mesa for the past few days hanging out with family and waiting for the weather to clear up a bit before we head out on the road. As you probably know, this winter has already been an extraordinary one in terms of weather. Below freezing temperatures and snow have reached much further South than is typical. Phoenix has been one of the only places in the country that has been almost unaffected by this freak cold snap and blizzard, but the surrounding areas down here in Arizona and New Mexico have. Hopefully when we leave here tomorrow, the roads will be cleared off and we can get to the other side of the continental divide without too many snow, ice, or cold problems.
Christmas break was a good break for me, it allowed me some time to see family, go back home for the first time in almost a year, and get some needed rest. My muscles are feeling ready to go, and my saddle sores have nearly completely disappeared. I got to go ice fishing with my dad and see the progress of our orchard. Dani and I miss being around dogs, so it was also good to spend some time with Shy, Zeus, and Callie.
My mom was able to come down to Mesa and see us off as we start riding again on the second half of our trip. We have gone 2,241 miles so far, and we have somewhere between 2,600 and 3,000 to go. We have done all of the maintenance needed on the bikes to keep them running smooth, hopefully until the end of the trip. Dani got a new front wheel, two new fat Schwalbe tires (these things are awesome), a new chain, and new front brake pads. On my bike I finally replaced my front tire that I started with, put on a new chain, and replaced my handlebar tape. I also set up my new Ortlieb panniers that Dani got me for Christmas so that they are adjusted for my front rack and ready to carry our food. Amazingly, after 2,241 miles, our chains were not overly worn. We replaced them to keep our drive-trains in good working order. I attribute their longevity to routine maintenance and cleaning at least a few times per week. Our new tires should profoundly reduce the number of flats we have from here on. Overall I am impressed at how reliable bicycles can be as a form of long distance, heavily loaded transportation.
We are both very excited to get on the road again. If the weather holds, we should be in Texas in less than two weeks. Neither of us has ever been to Texas, so it will be a new experience for sure. Texas leads us into the deep South in Louisiana, then Mississippi, Alabama, and then across the widest part of Florida to the East coast and the Atlantic Ocean. From here on, the whole trip will be through country that is new to us both. Let the adventure continue. Please keep enjoying the blog and feel free to leave us messages as much you like. Hearing from everyone out there really helps motivate us to keep biking and to keep writing this blog.
As Greg wrote, I went home to DC for Christmas. I was thrilled to just relax and spend time with my parents. We did some Christmas shopping, but mostly we stayed home and baked cookies, or spent many hours making wonderful dinners. We felt the intense winter storm in Arlington during my time at their home. On the Friday before Christmas,shortly after leaving a performance of “The Nutcracker Ballet” it began to snow, heavily. In the next 24 hours, practically all of Saturday, it snowed. When I say snow, I mean really snowed. We ended up with 20.5 inches at my parents' house, with some surrounding areas getting as much as 24 inches! We had an awesome time on Saturday. We skied from the house to the grocery store (about a mile) to get ingredients for dinner. It was coming down so hard that when you went to shovel the walk, there was about a quarter inch of snow accumulated when you came back to the porch. My brother Marc came home on the day before Christmas, and I was happy I could spend some time with him. As Greg said, I got two amazing new tires (Schwalbe Marathons) and I am very excited to try them out. Hopefully I will no longer be the one who always gets flats. Now maybe neither of us will have to deal with that problem much any more. Another adjustment to our gear list is the switch to bike shorts. After trying the Andiamo padded underwear for all that time, I realize that real biking shorts are the way to go. Greg has a pair, and I now have two. We plan on finding one more pair for Greg. I also have a new raincoat, yay! My former raincoat has seen its day, being re-waterproofed several times, having mouse chew holes in the fabric, patched with duct tape, and then going through the torrential rains of Oregon, it was time.
The day I flew out of DC we went to an exhibit at National Geographic called “Terra Cotta Warriors.” The first emperor of China had a whole army of clay created to guard him tomb. An estimated 7,000 warriors were made, of which they have only actually uncovered 1,000. I got to see about 15 of the figures at this exhibit. It was quite amazing to see all of the intricacies of these figures, especially considering how many were created.
I had a great time resting and relaxing at home, and I am ready to get back on the road, my legs are itching! I can't wait to see all of the new country ahead of us. I saw a clip of El Paso on the weather station yesterday, and there was snow on the ground. I hope the weather clears up for us. If there's one thing I can be certain of, there will be lots of interesting and fun adventures ahead. Stay tuned...