Archive for May, 2011

Day 2: MooseFail

Meet Moose: An 80 lb. workhorse with a little too much junk in the trunk

I believe Apollo 13 was coined “A Successful Failure.” On a much less epic scale, that’s what happened to my ride.

After Edward, Katherine, and Keith said farewell to me in Staunton, I set up my tent and fell asleep to a light drizzle. Woke up Tuesday morning to the pitter-patter of rain. Fell asleep and woke up again to rain. I didn’t want to get everything wet trying to break down camp and load the bike, so I made a couple peanut butter-banana sandwiches and listened to a Michael Pollan audiobook while waiting for the rain to abate. Close to midday it did, so I quickly changed clothes, packed up the tent, removed the giant slugs from my bags, and took off.

My destination was Monterey, VA, on the border of West Virginia. It was on and off drizzles all afternoon. I was climbing/pushing my way up Shenandoah Mtn when I heard a scraping noise coming from the rear. Upon closer inspection, one of the spokes on the rear wheel was loose. That’s no good, especially after only 60 miles. So I decided to head down the mountain and back in the direction of Charlottesville until I got cell phone service. While riding, some thoughts came to mind:

  • Probably shouldn’t have waited until the night before my trip to see if all my stuff could fit in my pannier bags. They did…barely…all 50 lbs.
  • Probably shouldn’t have waited until the night before my trip to test ride a bike with 50 lbs. of gear loaded on the back. It was a bit absurd; you could lift the front of the bike with your pinky.
  • Thank God this happened early enough in the trip that friends can rescue me instead of in the boonies of nowhere.

I made it back to Churchville, still with no service, when I got caught in a thunderstorm. Fortunately, a stranger pointed me to a dollar store over the next hill where I was able to borrow another stranger’s phone to call Edward. I checked the spokes again while waiting for Edward – all the spokes on the right side of the wheel were loose. Moose was definitely not rideable. Fortunately, Edward was able to get me and the remnants of my bike back home. To the kindness of strangers and friends!

So the trip had a rough start, but I’m hoping to be on the road again soon. After explaining what happened to the guys at a few bike shops, their recommendations included a stronger, hand-built rear wheel and a front wheel rack to distribute the weight better, or pulling a trailer with my gear behind the bike. I’m hoping to revamp Moose and start again in early June!

Also, thank you to everyone who has taken an interest in this trip and why I’m doing it, and to those who have donated for my cause. It means a lot to my family and me.

Here are some pictures of the two days on the road:

Pumped for a ride to Staunton

Buckling up

The top of an intense climb of Afton mountain

View from Afton

Beers to celebrate in Staunton!

Grandma's Bait, Staunton

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What a Start

In a public park in Staunton, VA

I may just have the best friends a guy could have.

At the break of 10:30am, I headed out from Charlottesville, VA. But not alone…Edward and Katherine, two amazing friends, decided to join me on my first day on the road. Together, we conquered a 1000′ ascent up Afton Mountain, shared granola bars and turkey sandwiches, met other touring cyclists bound for Oregon, and rolled 40 miles into Staunton, VA. Not only was I treated to celebratory beers and dinner, but they even followed me, Jeep-in-tow, until I found my campsite – a public park, nestled among a few low-hanging trees.

Forecast for tonight: rain.
Forecast for the next week: rain.

There are a few things from today that I can’t believe: 1)how the start of my trip coincides with a week long east coast storm, 2) how I have internet service in this park (a weak wireless linksys signal from who knows where), and 3) how I can’t get this smile off my face. What a way to start a trip. Thank you Wizzard, JV, and Shogun for being awesome people and making Day 1 better than anything I could hope for.

Takeoff!

Welcome back to BClineinJapan, where BCline is…not in Japan…but plan to once again stock the pages of this blog with tales of my misadventures! Quick background:

After I returned from Japan in August, I had a few weeks with family and friends, then headed down to Fairhope, AL to begin Outward Bound training. Outward Bound is a non-profit outdoor education school that has bases all over the world. The Southeast region (Florida and Alabama), is their At-Risk program where we go on month-long canoeing trips with at-risk teens. So I did that until December. Positives: Loved being outdoors 24/7, instructors are awesome. Not so positive: The kids, while sometimes having good days, had many more “F U instructor” days. Definitely an interesting experience, it just wasn’t something I could see myself doing long-term (long-term for me being a year or more).

Since then, I’ve moved to Charlottesville, VA where I’ve been living with my collge roommate of 1st, 2nd, and now 7th year, Edward Brown. I’ve been working part time helping his mother at her work doing administrative tasks and part time building a bike. There’s so much more I could say about how much I love Cville, but I do need to get on my bike sometime this morning. In any case, the amazing friends, weather, and town (and the fact that my little brother is attending UVA in the fall!) have a strong pull on me returning after this trip.

Which takes me to now! In about a half hour, I plan to head out on a cross country bike trip to my hometown in Manhattan Beach, CA. Edward has decided to join on my first ride to Staunton, VA. If anyone knows people (or yourselves!) I could potentially stay with between Virginia and California, I would be incredibly grateful to sleep in a bed now and again. What follows is a letter I wrote giving you an outline for the trip and my reasons for doing it.

Family and Friends:

I have (possibly foolishly) decided to ride across the country on my bicycle this summer. From Charlottesville, VA to Manhattan Beach, CA, I will no doubt experience the most mountainous and flattest, the most humid and driest, and the friendliest and most barren parts of the US.

I am dedicating this ride to my father, Larry Cline, who has frontotemporal dementia. We began to see changes in his behavior and personality in his mid 40’s, when I was heading off to college. As the genetic disease progressed, it became increasingly difficult for him to show empathy, behave appropriately in social settings, and care for himself. Put simply, our family was slowly losing a husband and father. Today, he is in an assisted living home with a full time staff to care for him.

I write to you today with a request for fundraising support. I am riding for my Dad and to raise money for AFTD (the Association of Frontotemporal Degeneration – http://www.theaftd.org). What better way to stay motivated when staring at a 5,000’ ascent in the Rockies than to ride for a cause and in honor of a loved one. It will be one of my most difficult summers, but it will be worth it at the end. (I mean, who wouldn’t want tree trunks for legs?)

There is no minimum donation and all are appreciated. If you donated a penny for every mile, that’d be about $40 (this is going to be a looong ride). To donate online, just go to AFTD’s fundraising page at http://www.theaftd.org/about/get-involved/donate/electronically and follow the directions.  In the “Name of person for tribute” section, please type Larry Cline. Or you can send a check to:

AFTD
Radnor Station Building 2, Suite 320
290 King of Prussia Road
Radnor, PA 19087

Please note in the check memo that it is in honor of my Dad.

I thank you in advance for your generous support!

In search of tailwinds and smooth roads,

Brandon