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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ferry Godmother

Look how skinny he is! At least he remembered his rain jacket. The blue jacket is Jill, the "fan" Ed met on the road. She was riding to the ferry also, but was freezing and bundled up. A guy in a truck came upon Ed and told him there was some "Russian guy on a bike" behind them and maybe Ed should wait for the guy and ride with him, just in case.

Well, it turned out to be Jill and after the two bike nuts swapped gear lore, Jill said "I'm headed to Juneau." and Ed said, "I'm headed to Denver."

So Jill said, "Oh, you're THAT guy - I've been following your wife's blog!" Her comments are on Sunday's post.

Now that Ed's on the ferry, here's the last Map point he sent me this morning:


Comments straight from Ed
Against Ferry:
  • Cussedness of doing it as planned no matter.
  • Much of anything that ever happened in this part of the world is from plain stubborn cussedness. This almost won the day.
  • Jasper\Banff. The other end of the overland route. Problem is, with elevation, by the time I get there, same problem with snow in the passes already getting here in the north.

For Ferry:

  • Mancation is fundamentally a pleasure trip.
  • Better to board ferry of my own volition than be forced to load the bike in the back of a Mountie's vehicle or onto a Greyhound across a thousand miles of Canadian prairie.
  • Never been on Haines road or seen southeast Alaska. Road spectacular, we will see about the ferry passage.
A StoLat to the Cooks of White River Yukon Territories (see "Smarty Pants" post). It was a privilege to sit by their stove. They have been in the area since 1969 and I am sure there are travelers all over the world that share this sentiment.

Among their comments:
“Need some gas?”
“I suppose your wife's new boyfriend in Denver lent you the bike.”
“Take care, there are Lions.”

It seems the trip has developed into three distinct phases:
1. Spectacle Headwinds [just completed]
2. Passage No Berth [about to begin]
3. East in the West [in development]

If you get any at all, they will be coming from an unknown email address at the giftshoppassportphotoplacewithcopymachine. I had to pick some, print actual pictures, and now they are supposedly going to scan prints and email. I kid you not.

I’m sure there was a better way, but was in no position to argue.

I did try to group them by location or theme such as the Yukon, or Cold Enough for you, but no telling how and if you will get them, and of course you will have to make up your own captions as I was unable to attach my wiseass expert commentary. I have many more, but will have to wait for next opportunity. Raining, rain, rain, here. Will call while loitering at ferry terminal for hours this evening.

So here are some pictures, without captions, so how about this: Give us YOUR captions in the comments section.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

BOOMER! and the bear

Yesterday was a great day for Ed and for Sooner football. Since we are both University of Oklahoma alumni, and I was born and raised in Norman, we are football nuts. We helped start the OU club of Alaska, which is still going strong, and one of the first things I did in Denver was join the OU Club of Colorado.

On this bike trek, Ed has been wearing his OU bike jersey ("Wherever you go, there you hate Texas") and he has encountered some Texans along the way (see previous posts). Last Thursday, he was miraculously able to see the USC-Oregon State game and we talked and texted back and forth as the Trojans bit it hard. USC cannot lose enough for me - they could lose every day and I would not be satisfied.

Anyway, as Ed trudged toward Haines on Saturday, he saw a roadhouse some miles outside of town. His general rule is that wherever he encounters a place offering food, he stops in. You never know when you'll have a chance again to have something besides freeze dried spaghetti...

While eating his BLT at Roadhouse 33, he watched NASCAR on the lone TV above the bar. He saw the scrolling scores on the screen and noticed a pattern: Top 5 teams losing and the Sooners holding tough against TCU. He asked the bartender if he could switch the TV to football. In true Alaska fashion, he said no.

"The cable box is in Joe's cabin up the hill, and Joe's not in now, so we're stuck with NASCAR," was his explanation.

Thoughts raced through Ed's mind: "Florida Lost, Roll Tide - BOOMER SOONER! We're gonna be #1 - must...see...game!"

So, the time trial to Haines began. He had 33 miles to pedal and he decided to haul it to see the second half of the game. With fully loaded panniers, he started the race to Haines for glory. The pace up to this point had been leisurely - but this was about football not cycling, and he was going for it.

The first hill was a tough climb and to add to his final humiliation in Alaska, he encountered head winds. But the Sooners were going to be #1 and he could not stop just because of a strong breeze. So he stood on the pedals and rode harder.

Then he saw it - a small black bear on the side of the road. BUT --- he saw the bear AFTER he passed it. The little thing was LEAVING the road. That's when Ed realized something: he had charged a bear and didn't even know it. When he passed the bear, he was so close he could have slapped it. The poor bear probably saw the fire of victory in Ed's eyes and ran off.

Still, Ed didn't stop. He still thought he could make it to town in time for at least the 4th quarter. He pedaled harder. That's how strong Sooner football fans can be.

Unfortunately, he couldn't find access to the game on TV when he arrived in Haines. So he fired up the cell phone and watched the play summaries on the tiny phone screen. When we talked later, he told me the bear story, and now I'm telling it to all of you.


Tomorrow: Ed meets a fan on the road.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Snow Wins

He's made his reservations on the ferry from Haines and will leave Monday - it will take about 5 days to get to Bellingham and who knows how long to get to Denver. So much about this is a great idea:
  • No more worrying about the weather - no anxiety about having to take a Greyhound through Canada or trying to flag down a mounty to strap his bike to the horse and hope for the best
  • A chance to see a part of Alaska he's never seen: southeast (he can see Russia from the ferry, so now has foreign policy experience; well, okay, he can see Russians probably ON the ferry, but you know)
  • He may get to Denver earlier

Since it's not a Princess Cruise but a mode of transportation, the cost for a stateroom is outrageous, so he will do like most ferry riders and camp out on the deck or inside the covered porch. No doubt there will be some backpackers with guitars and a few prison escapees, but that's how we build community.

As a side note, while riding through the Yukon Territory, Ed is remembering how much we liked Canadians the first time we went through there 14 years ago.

"They're nice, clean and smart," is what we remember. For example, the litter problem is almost nonexistent in Canada.

"I can tell you, because I've ridden on border roads where one side was Canada and one side was Alaska," Ed told me last night. "There's trash on only ONE side of the road, and it's not Canada."

Last night, he was in Haines Junction, YT, which is still a two-day ride from Haines, Alaska.


Hopefully he can upload more pictures in Haines. But for now, just picture him riding through sunny Canada and back in to Alaska, hopping on the ferry and hunkering down for a slow scenic ride to Washington.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Smarty Pants

I think Ed is trying to stay in the places that won "creepiest travel destination name" in a previous issue of Freak Traveler magazine or something. A few days ago, it was Dead Man's Lake and yesterday it was Destruction Bay. Makes me want to buy up some land in Canada and name it something strange - like Desperation Cove or Inconsolable Isthmus.

Those of you who know Ed know that he's not much of a talker on the phone. I find I have to just let him stop and think for a while and then, he comes up with stories. For instance, when he stopped to get his daily V-8 somewhere near the Canada-Alaska border, he happened upon an isolated store that was truly arctic in spirit.

They sold crystals, Miracle Grow, peanuts, soda, and other random things. As a business model, you would think "huh?", but up there, you never know what people are going to need, miss from back home or have a craving for, so you stock it ALL in small quantities.

The couple running the place were "65 if they were a day" and just talked smack to each other and their guests all day long. The wife ran the register and constantly reminded the husband to actually take money from the customers for items he was selling them. Apparently, he felt it was enough to schmooze and make jokes, but she was focused on paying their exorbitant mortgage and perhaps saving enough to leave. What a harpy.

When Ed rolled up on his bike, the old boy was outside moving rocks around or something. He saw Ed and asked, "Need any gas?" Smarty pants.

Ed told him that he had eaten Buckshot Betty's spaghetti and meatballs last night, so he was fine for fuel. So the guy made up some kind of song on the fly about Betty and her spaghetti and Ed and his bike. Seriously in need of cable TV in the arctic, I guess. They have all that creativity to waste - sad, really.

At one time, I could picture Ed and I having a life like that - running a little hotel or something and giving people good-natured grief all day. But I have to say, it's good to be in civilization again. Driving around Denver, I see more bike riders on the road every day. He's going to fit right in here.

After thinking it over, he's probably going to take the ferry, from either Haines or Skagway weather depending. It's just too stressful for all of us to be focused on when he'll run in to snow - as he surely will.

For now, here's the link:


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Alaska won't let him leave easy

The Wrangell Mountains

I had a hilarious conversation with Ed last night. His GPS locator isn't working properly or doesn't have a signal where he is, so he just recounted for me the last 20 miles in Alaska and the first several miles in the Yukon Territory.

"Alaska did not let me leave easy and that makes me proud," he said. Apparently, when he left Tok, he had a decent ride and said to himself 'should be an easy last 20 miles into Canada.' Then it started to snow.

It was passable at places, but where it wasn't, it really wasn't. He is now considering a backup plan of riding to Haines junction and taking the ferry to Seattle, but he doesn't have to make that decision just yet.

At Border City, he met up with Cross-eyed Bruce who recommended Ed stay at Buckshot Betty's hotel in Beaver Creek, YT. Unfortunately, Buckshot Betty's was full, so he wound up at Hotel 1202 with plans to go to Buckshot's in order to pick up her new CD that just dropped last month. Arctic people are so multitalented (our former financial planner in Anchorage was also a piano tuner). You do what you have to in order to survive.

Cross-eyed Bruce told Ed a guy had blown into town after the snow started and frantically told Bruce to call the Troopers because he'd seen a "guy on a bike out there." Bruce was hesitant to bother the authorities on account of "people on bikes are usually there by choice." He further pointed out that the driver could've stopped for Ed if he really wanted to help him. True dat.

Ed mentioned before that he was wearing his Oklahoma bike jersey for the ride, showing Sooner pride wherever you go is an obligation for OU alums. At Dead Man's Lake, just before the snow storm, a truck containing two Texans waved Ed down and said hey. They were driving the truck TO Alaska after one of their sons had been deployed overseas. After exchanging the standard Oklahoma-Texas barbs (starting with "You're from Texas? I'm sorry"), they extolled the wonders of the Alaska wilderness.

Ed informed them that if you're on a road, you're not really in Alaska wilderness. They agreed, stating that when you see a Sooner pull up on a bike in the middle of nowhere, you're really not in wilderness after all.

Even though his Spot device isn't working, I can at least give you all a link:

And a few pictures to keep you settled:

Tanana Valley camp site

Wrangell Moutains and fall foliage

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pictures and a Platypus

Doesn't he look like he's having fun? I'm not sure where this was taken, but it's obviously a river bed with a fabulous mountain in the background.

There are nights when Ed stays in hotels and others when he has to camp. When he camps, this is what it looks like:

Nice to see he has priorities - bike AND himself in the tent.

Here's the rig - notice the gear in the panniers and the camera mounted to the bike.

The camera is courtesy of our sponsor, Platypus Dreams, a Marianne and RasKal production. They do marketing and branding and whatnot. They are also related to us so THANKS!!!
Modern equipment against a rugged primitive backdrop.
And now,
See - he's almost to Canadia which is full of Canadians. Hopefully he will meet the border guard who called him courageous. Tomorrow - more pictures and perhaps an answer to the leather washer argument. Weigh in now, it's gonna get ugly.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pictures at last!

Over the next few days, I'll be posting the pictures Ed was able to send me at the Tok public library.

First, here's the map link of where he was last night:

Now, getting internet access from the library in Tok is no easy task. The facility is staffed by volunteers and the hours posted on the door are merely a suggestion. Luckily, the woman who ran the front desk at Ed's hotel was one of the library volunteers and she was able to open the door for him on her lunch break.
They do have standards at the Tok Public library, though - they will not open if it's -35 degrees outside. They're not animals, for Pete's sake.

Now for a recap of Ed's first week on the road:

Here's Ed leaving our house - which is sold, by the way. Thank God for that!

Notice the gray and gloomy day. Our friend, Glenn Cravez called and wished Ed, "Tail winds, brother, tail winds." Unfortunately, he did not say "poo-poo-poo" like a good Jewish aunty and Ed's had nothing but head winds throughout his ride. That will make any normal person reconsider, but not Ed. He just considered it a challenge. Still, when I talked to him last night, I repeated the wish AND added poo-poo-poo.

Before leaving Anchorage, however, he had to stop at Samurai Sushi for one last plate of fabulousness. When he told the owner what he was up to, the guy went behind the counter and made Ed a huge "sushi ball", which Ed claims saved his life on a bad section of road.

The Sushi ball:

The bad ride

The Sushi ball takes a break and enjoys the mountain view before being eaten.

Just remember, to leave comments, click on the word 'COMMENTS' below and register. Then you can make all the statements you want. Tomorrow: More pictures of Ed, the route and a shout out to our sponsor - Platypus Dreams.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Glennallen to Tok

Apparently, Ed met some other pilgrims on the road - going the opposite direction back to Anchorage, but still. Of course, being a boy, he did not ask them anything about where they came from, how long it took, or where they got their fabulous shoes. Honestly, don't boys talk about anything important?

We'd like to point out that Ed's not the only one who's ridden out of Alaska on a bike. A friend of ours rode TO Alaska from Michigan by herself and said it was the trip of a lifetime. She is a serious bad mamma-jamma, too - weighs about 90 pounds soaking wet and carrying something heavy. So anyone can do it.

Gotta cut this short - I'm the only wage-earner in the family and have to get crackin and get to work. Not all of us can just ride our bikes all dang day...


Peas out,

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Where he's at...

Somewhere between Sutton and Glennallen, which in Alaska terms is not too far from home. He is on highway 1 (I think there are six highways all told). The way the land lies, he has to go North before he can go South, so don't worry about his sense of direction.

For those of you who have been calling and emailing that you can't find the links in the blogs


What I like about the Google Map device he uses is that there are photos of the places he will be - they are not our photos and some of them are definitely from the Department of Tourism. They were probably taken while standing ON the city dump to avoid photographing the city dump.

Oh, I forgot to post Ed's last email before he left Anchorage:

"Anchorage Weather:Same as 97 of last 103 days, gloomy with promise of continued glomy.Various forcasts: Some Sun or more rain, or coninued gloom, or...Also various wind readings: South or East or West or North

Goal for Day: Possible will be short with late start. King Mountain past Sutton.~80 miles. Thank you again for being so supportive."

Yeah, like I'd crush his dream. Please.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Ed finally left Anchorage today! Of course, he had a lot of last minute errands to run, and of course it was the Monday after Free Money Day in Alaska. Do you know about this?

Every year, Alaskans get a bonus check for braving out the cold, high prices for every freakin' thing, being far away from family and enduring the poor grooming of some of our fellow Alaskans. It's really a portion of the oil revenues that's put in a sort of investment fund and we get a check with our interest earnings.

Since Ed had this weekend to get the final things ready, he had to battle the crowds of people at REI, Wal-Mart and Best Buy all spending their Free Money. Ed was getting survival gear and others were getting, well, survival gear. After riding with loaded panniers (bike baskets) across town to the bike store for better gloves, he made it back to our old house and was met by our friends, the Magids.

Leah took pictures to document the historic start of the epic trip. He rolled out of the driveway and on to the greatest adventure of his 44 years.

But first, Ed stopped for sushi at one of his fave places in Muldoon, rode for about an hour then stopped in Eagle River for the night.

Click Here to see where started. Once he pushes the button again, I get an email with his coordinates and a link to Google Maps.

He's hoping to get to Sutton tomorrow or maybe further. Hey - he's on vacation, don't pressure him.

More tomorrow...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Is there a Cause?

The photo at left is Ed last winter

On Friday Ed spoke with the Canada Border Info [BIS]. He reports:

“After spending some time explaining to the Border Service agent the nature of my travel intentions, he replied, ‘Courageous‘. I explained I had heard a number of different words, but that was the first time I heard that word. I advised I would be forwarding it to my wife for her blog.”

Most people ask him - "Are you doing this for some kind of Cause like...?"

And the answer is Yes: Ed's Sanity [see Manifesto comment #1]

Alternatively, it‘s for “Freedom from the oppression of wage slavery.” [concept courtesy of Jack London]

The other questions are about his bike, gear, route and what he plans to take with him.

Ed says, “I have been accused at times of some gear freak leanings. I thought maybe there was some truth to the notion. Then I ended up on some fender mounting blogs. Now there are some freaks.

The heated exchanges regarding leather washers and rubber spacers were both passionate and troubling. Shout out here to the guys at Speedway Cycles in Anchorage for getting my Hondos well mounted."

As for travel equipment:

1991 Ford F250 Truck with 6 foot trailer - the biggest pain in the tuchus ever
That’s how we got up to Alaska



  • 2003 Gunnar Sport
  • Shimano 105 w/Nashbar [yes, that’s right] 50/34 compact
  • XT 11-32 cluster
  • Hondo Fluted Fenders
  • Nitto Noodle Bars
  • Conti Top Touring 2000 700x32
  • Axiom Rack and Panns
  • Gortlieb Compact Bar Bag
  • Egg Beater SL
  • and of course: Brooks w\Ti rails
Other gear:
  • Black Diamond Mega-Light [Pyramid\Teepee\Tarp]
  • Custom Feathered Friends Bag [Fat\Overstuffed\PTFE] (Maybe the best fathers day gift the other side of the Dumpster. Thank you dear)
  • Old School Thick Camp Rest
  • No Stove\No Pots [Road Houses and No Cook Groceries]
  • No Water Filter [Public Services\God's Creeks\Water Pills]
  • 8x8 floor plastic left over from trailer move.
  • Mini BD HeadLamp [Thank you Evelyn for the loan]
  • Conrad[Always]\Kerouac[Its about time I read]
  • Small 1st aid Misc Toilet BugDope\SunScreen
  • Misc repair and just in case kit developed during 14 Alaskan years
  • Bike Tools\Tubes\Tire\etc.
  • Ipod, DigiCam, Cell, HeroCam, SPOT
  • Bear Spray
  • Candle Lantern
  • Stuff I forgot to list
  • Stuff I plain forgot
List subject to pending subtractions additions and angry destructions.

And, just so you know where he is, here’s the map link:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Manifesto

So Ed's getting things in order for the epic journey from Anchorage to Denver. His last day workin' for the Man is Thursday. After the requisite good-bye potluck (featuring Little Smokies and Ro-Tel), he'll have all weekend to get ready for the roll-out. I hope some people will join him on the ride.
Here are some answers to the FAQs:
1. It will take him about five weeks.
2. Yes, I am totally okay with his trip.
3. No, I'm not worried about him.
4. Yes, it is cold sometimes in Alaska.
5. No, I did not vote for Sarah Palin; I campaigned for Andrew Halcro
6. He will have a device on his bike for search and rescue but it features a link to Google Maps.
7. Family and friends CAN add to this blog by entering their comments below. Let 'er rip.
And, with a little encouragement, Ed emailed me the following:
The "Manifest Bike Manifesto"
Laws according to Ed

Statement 1:"I am not crazy, most everyone else is, really."

Statement 2: "My trip expectations are some of the great days of my life. With maybe a couple of the tough ones."

Statement 3: Quotes by other people that are awesome:

"If you have paid your debts and made your will, and settled your affairs and are a free man, then you are ready for a ride."
- Thoreau/Witterholt, Walking/Cycling

"One of the gladdest moments of human life, methinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of habit, the leaden weight of routine, the cloak of many cares and the slavery of home, man feels once more happy."

- Sir Richard Francis Burton

(and Tara's personal favorite)

"Don't sell all your time." - Dick Gregory

Next up: The machine. But first, a picture -

Ed finally got the living room the way he likes it and now he has to move:

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Little Bit about Ed

The Crazy Bike Guy believes in extremes - about two years ago, he decided to really be a bike guy. Sure, he has a day job, but that should never keep anyone from doing things they love.

It all got serious when he and our daughter decided to ride a 50-mile race on a tandem in the
Fireweed Bike Race in Alaska. Now, Ed had done the Fireweed a few times before - first a 50, then 100 miles, then he did 200 miles alone. That last one nearly did me in - he underestimated his nutrition and electrolytes by about 50% and wound up finishing but nearly passing out at the finish line in Valdez.

Let me just say it's very hard to keep yourself together when the man you love arrives at the end of a long day looking jaundiced. You never want them to see the panic-stricken facial expressions, but it's important to get them Gatorade and bananas ASAP.

So I shuffled him back to the hotel, drew him a hot bath, gave him two foot-long subs and made him go to sleep. The next day, his color returned and he insisted on driving us back to Anchorage.

The following year, he did the full 400 miler with our friend, Glenn Cravez. Glenn is the manager of our synagogue's softball team, the 10 Plagues. The team members took on one of each of the plagues. Ed chose Darkness and Glenn chose Blood so their team name for this race was - you guessed it - Blood and Darkness. I drove the support car with another guy from Ed's office, Steven.

Now, Steven was a really nice guy and interesting conversationalist, but he kept sneaking into the Blood and Darkness food stash. I could only see the yellow-pallored Ed the year before whenever Steven would pull out the pack of Fig Newtons or the Fluffer Nutter meant for Ed or Glenn. I was not interested in picking up two jaundiced guys after 400 miles, so I may have come off a little terse.

However, I think he got the message the second time I flung the food back to the stash area in the hatch and reminded Steven that he had his own peanut butter crackers and bottled water to rely on.

The following year, it was time for our daughter to ride. Ed borrowed a tandem bike and bought our kid a hot pick riding kit. Since she was too short to reach the pedals, he got plastic electrical cases from Home Depot and attached them with hot pink duct tape.

They finished the race and her comments made it into the post-race video. Lucky for me, she doesn't want to ride from Alaska to Denver with him. Date of departure is about September 13-ish.
And yes, he's decided to go all the way to Denver. Next blog will be about his nutrition plan that lost him about 40 lbs and got him leaner and meaner for those tough climbs. Plus, we'll talk gear - yay!