John & Pat’s Bike Trip 2005

New Hope, MN to Fort Collins, CO & back.

Updates Issued During the Trip


Date: Fri. May 6th, 2005


Hi all,


It has been a while so I thought I would let everyone know what Pat and I are up to this year.  First as some of you know, Pat gave us quite a scare a couple months ago when she went to the Doctor to have a mole removed from the underside of her right forearm.  They found out that it was cancerous (melanoma).  The short story is that they did a Wide Local Excision at the site and removed all the skin down to the muscle and about 2 centimeters around the mole, took skin from her thigh to graft where they removed the melanoma and did a Sentinel Node Biopsy in her right armpit to see if the cancer had spread.  The good news is that they seem to have removed all the cancer and Pat is all healed up and ready for our 2005 Adventures.


This year we will have two adventures.  The first is a 2000 mile bicycle trip starting tomorrow (May 7th and going through about June 22nd.  We will leave from home and bike basically due West to Mt Rushmore (Western South Dakota).  At Mt Rushmore we will turn South and travel to Fort Collins to visit with our daughter Natalie and Andy.  We will spend a couple days in Fort Collins and join Nat and Andy and their friends Aaron and Jenny along with about 40,000 other people on Memorial Day to participate in the “Bolder Boulder” a 10K Run/Walk event in Boulder, CO (can you say BIG party). The first of June we will bike back home.


Our second trip will be a hiking, climbing, camping and sight seeing car trip to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons and a return to Mt Ritter near Mammoth, CA.

We have backcountry permits for both Yellowstone and the Tetons.  Pat and I will spend about a week at each place and then head to Fort Collins to pick up Natalie.  The three of will spend a week in the Mt Ritter and surrounding area.  I have some unfinished business to take care of from last year on Mt Ritter.  We will be leaving around July 15th and returning around August 17th.  More on our second trip as the time gets nearer.


We will be emailing or phoning updates to Natalie while we are on our bike trip and she will be forwarding them on to all of you.  If you would like to be removed from the list or would prefer that we use a different email address, let us know.


Pat and I hope you all have a great summer.  Think warm and DRY thoughts for us while we are on our bike trip. …… John



Date: Wed. May 11th, 2005


Hi all,


Just a short note to let everyone know how we are doing...We are in Watertown, South Dakota.  We will layover here a day to let the weather out west get a little better and rest up for a big sprint to Redfield tomorrow.  They had snow about a three days ride from here last night and more expected today.  We will take a day here so hopefully the weather will be better by the time we get there.  The weather, as I am sure you have seen, has been very challenging.  We got wet Saturday, Sunday and several times on Monday.  Tuesday was dry but very blustery.  We have been struggling with a head wind every day but have still been able to average about 8 to 9 miles an hour during the time we are actually riding.  Needless to say, breaks have been very frequent.  Tomorrow (Thursday) the wind is supposed to be at our back 15-25 mph with scattered rain.  The plan now is that if it is not pouring in the morning, we will be on the road about 6 am to take advantage of the tailwind to get to Redfield about 75 miles due West of here (Watertown).  If in the morning the rain is heavy with electrical activity, we may lay over another day.


The problem we face in this stretch is there is one camping spot about 65 miles west of here or motels in Redfield about 75 miles.  With a high temp in the 40’s the next couple days and the lows near freezing, if we are wet after a day of peddling in the rain, it is hard to think about setting a tent up in the rain so we basically have to push on to Redfield.  We basically can not layover until this weekend when the weather is expected to break because we would fall too far behind schedule.


So far mechanical problem have not been too bad.  We had two flat tires on BOB (the trailer) on the same day just a couple hours apart.  I broke a spoke on the rear wheel of my bike but did not have to replace it until we pulled up for the night so that was no problem.


Pat and I are in great spirits.  We are both struggling with sour and stiff muscles (especially the butt).  Neither of us prepared as well as we should have so we are training en route.  More to follow later.  …John



Date: Wednesday May 18th, 2005


We have gone over 550 miles, fighting strong headwinds each day since last report.  We did three 70 mile days in the last five days to try to make up some of the lost time.  We have made up one day and we’re still one day behind.  It rained 3 out of the last 5 days but the rain had minor impact on biking, except for the accompanying winds. 


John blew out the sidewall on two different tires on his back wheel, the second one resulted in John taking a slow speed header over the handlebars, but both bike and rider are OK.  The tire was changed with the spare they carry and they were on their way with just a minor shoulder bump and a small helmet crack.  They have seen hundreds of pheasants, a few dozen deer, a couple rattlesnakes, a few yellow-headed black birds, and a few hawks.  The south to north trip through the Badlands National Park was quite a challenge with lots of up and down hills and a killer headwind out of the northwest.  In the last couple days, there have been minor mechanical problems with only one broken spoke to report.  Pat and John are in great spirits (as of Wednesday night) after having a nice steak dinner in Wall, South Dakota.  With favorable head winds, they should be at Mt. Rushmore on Friday.



Date: Wednesday May 25th, 2005


Our last update was from Wall, SD.  The following day Pat was not feeling well so we did not leave Wall until about 10 am Thursday (5/19).  We made it to Rapid City, SD.  Friday was a tough day as we climbed about 2000 feet over 28 miles with about 800 feet in the last 2.5 miles to get to Mt Rushmore.  Mt Rushmore has certainly changed in the 30 years since we were there last.  The large parking ramp, enormous cafeteria, big gift shop, huge amphitheater and massive stone pillars leading up to the viewing area almost make the sculpted heads incidental.  We stayed at a nearby KOA campground and they had a shuttle that we took to return to Mt Rushmore that evening for an evening program and lighting of the monument.  It was a very nice program.  At the end of the program, they invited all the veterans to come down to the stage and participate in retiring the flag for the evening.  I was fortunate enough to be one of the color guard that folded the flag.  It was very inspirational.


The following day (Sat 5/21) we traveled on the Mickelson Bike Trail for about 60 miles to Edgemont, SD.  The Trail was nice but it was all gravel and some of the spots the gravel was very loose that made for some tricky biking.  The majority of the portion of the trail that we were on was down hill, which was very nice after a tough day of climbing up to Mt Rushmore.


From Edgemont we traveled to Harrison, NE most of the way on gravel roads as we were out in the middle of "nowhere"!  From Harrison, we went to Scotts Bluff, NE, the best day of our trip so far.  We had a strong tail wind and dropped about 1500 feet from 5000 feet to 3500 feet.  We averaged just less than 12 miles per hour while biking and enjoyed a lot of long down hill coasting.  At Scotts Bluff, we camped at the city park that was next to the Zoo so we got a chance to visit the Zoo too.


We got to Kimball, NE last night (5/24) just ahead of a massive thunder storm with lots of wind and lightning.  The winds picked up over night and currently are sustained at 25 mph with gusts over 40 mph out of the Northwest.  We were supposed to travel to the west to Cheyenne, WY today but the wind is too strong.  We will wait until noon and if the wind does not die down, we will stay in Kimball for another night.


No new major mechanical problems to report.  Only one flat tire in the last several days.  To date we have traveled over 860 miles. 


Pat and I are in great spirits and are finally getting in good biking shape.  More to follow later…John & Pat



Date: Saturday May 28th, 2005


Just a quick note to all to let you know that we completed the first half of our bike trip.  We arrived in Fort Collins, CO about 2:30 Friday afternoon.  This marks the half way point of our bike trip.  We will spend a couple days with Nat and Andy and their friends Aaron and Jenny in Boulder, CO.  We will participate in the Bolder Boulder 10K Walk/Run event on Monday with about 40,000+ other entrants.  It should be very interesting to say the least.


To date we have completed 1047 miles.  During the first half of the trip, the weather has made it very challenging.  We had to bike several unplanned days over 70 miles to make up for the lack of progress due to the weather.  In the 21 days that we were out, there were only two days that we were not fighting a strong head wind and one of those days it was in the 40's with rain.  We are looking forward to more favorable weather on our return trip.


We hope everyone has a great Holiday weekend.   We will be back on the road on Tuesday (5/31).  ..... John and Pat



Date: Wednesday, June 8, 2005


Well we finally got to a town that 1) had a library with internet access, and 2) the library was actually open when we were there.  We had a super Memorial Day weekend.  We walked the Bolder Boulder as planned along with the other 47,000 runners and walkers.  It was a very nice weekend.  Nat and Andy's friends Aaron and Jenny let us stay at their place in Boulder the night before and we walked the few blocks to the start line on race day.  The weather was overcast so the skydivers and the air force fly-by did not happen but the rain and hail held off until that afternoon after the awards presentations and memorial addresses were completed. 


We left Fort Collins on Tuesday, May 31st and traveled 49 miles to Briggsdale, CO.  Wednesday was 66 miles to Sterling, CO.  Thursday was 42 miles to Jumbo Lake Reservoir near Lion, CO.  Friday was 47 miles to Brule, NE. Saturday was 65 miles to North Platte, NE.  Sunday was 45 miles to Arnold, NE.  Monday was 36 miles to Victoria Springs Recreation Area.  Tuesday was 48 miles to Burwell, NE and today was 65 miles to Albion, NE.


We had rain each evening except for the last two.  Fortunately we were in our campsite and set up by the time the rain arrived each evening.  Thursday evening the weather service issued a severe thunderstorm warning with baseball size hail possible.  We set up the tarp we usually use to cover the bikes as an additional layer a couple feet above the tent, no hail but the winds were 65-70 mph.  I had to hold the side of the tent from the inside for awhile during the night to keep one of the poles from collapsing.  It could have been a disaster had we not used extra lines on the tent and set up in a cluster of small trees as a wind break.  The weather radio saved us that time as we knew what was coming and prepared for the worst. 


On Tuesday (5/31) and Wed (6/1) as we traveled through Pawnee National Grassland, we saw 38 and 28 deer respectively.  Most were a fair distance from the road and in groups of 2-4 but there were a couple groups of 8-12.


Although the wind has not been the robust tailwind we were hoping for on our return trip, it has not been too bad.  Today was the first day that we had an assisting wind all day.


On Monday (6/6) as we left Arnold, NE heading east out of town, we got to do our own bicycle version of the movie "City Slickers".  We caught up to a rancher who was driving his cattle down the road to a new pasture.  There were about 10 wranglers ranging in age from 7 to 70 on horseback driving the cattle.  We biked up along side them and road along with them for awhile.  The wrangles said that we could go through the herd if we just shouted at the cattle; they would get out of the way.  We slowly peddled into the herd and the cows moved out of our way.  At one point Pat and I were completely surrounded by the cattle.  It was really neat.  We passed on through the herd of about 100 cattle and continued on our way.


Since we left Fort Collins we have traveled another 460 miles which brings our total trip distance to about 1500 miles.


Pat and I are in great spirits, good condition, and looking forward to the next few lower mileage days.

 More to follow later............. John and Pat 



Date: Monday, June 13, 2005


We had a couple very easy days since the last update.  Thursday (6/9) was 36 miles to Neliegh, NE.  Friday was 37 to Norfolk, NE. Saturday was 46 to Laurel, NE. Sunday we crossed the Missouri River at South Sioux City, NE to enter Iowa at Sioux City, IA.  We stayed last night at Stone State Park about 10 miles north of Sioux City, IA.  We will spend the day biking north in IA and then cross over to South Dakota to a State Park for the night and then on to Sioux Falls, SD on Tuesday and then to Pipestone, MN on Wednesday, at least as the plan is now.  We have been modifying our route based on the wind when we get up in the morning and listen to the weather radio.  This morning we had a strong tail wind from the South and got in 35 miles before lunch.  We are currently at Hawarden, IA doing some laundry, having lunch and getting caught up with the email.  We will continue on to the north after lunch as long as the wind is pushing us.


Yesterday I had a big milestone.  I turned over 10,000 miles on my bike.  It sure is getting beat up pulling the bike trailer (not to mention the rider too).  The only original equipment left on it (the bike) is the frame and the break levers.  Oh well.  We are still getting rain every night but have been extremely lucky in that it comes after we have the tent set up and are settled in for the night. 


More to follow later.   ..... John and Pat 




Date: Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Sorry for taking so long to get the last report out but when we got home (Sunday June 19th) we had a lot of pressing issues to deal with as I am sure you can imagine after being gone for 44 days.  As of the last report, we were at Newton State Park in South Dakota on June 13th.  I think I mentioned in the last report that we crossed the Missouri River at Sioux City, IA.  What I forgot to tell you was that we happened on a very nice bike trail there that went North along the river for about 4 miles.  That got us far enough out of town so we did not have to deal with the traffic plus it was very scenic and there were lots of hikers, bikers, boaters, etc to observe along the way.  From Newton, we went 43 miles to Brandon, SD (just east of Sioux Falls, SD) on the 14th.  42 miles to Pipestone, MN, on the 15th. 45 miles to Lake Shetek State Park (near Currie, MN) on the 16th.  63 miles to Sleepy Eye, MN on the 17th.  56 miles to Peaceful Valley Campground near Le Sueur, MN on the 18th.  After getting up on the morning of the 19th with a favorable tail wind, we decided to complete the remaining 69 miles and push all the way home on Sunday.


The last few days were fairly typical of this trip.  We had mild head winds each day except the last.  In the last six days it rained 4 of the nights in the evening and on the 15th, it rained on and off most of the day and that evening we had dime size hail.  The tent held up well in spite of the pounding it took.  We had a couple flat tires that were fixed enroute, no problems there.  We did not get much sleep on the evening of the 18th as the Peaceful Valley Campground was anything but peaceful that night.  It seems a good friend of the owner was having a birthday so they had a pot luck dinner for every one in the campground.  They also hired a Karoke guy for entertainment.  We thought they would go until about 10 pm and call it a night.  Silly us, they decided to give up about midnight and then a few people near our tent were so charged up, they stayed up around the campfire until early in the morning.  There were however, a few very good singers in the group.


Find below some statistics from the trip:


Duration:                                  44 Days (May 7th through June 19, 2005)

Biking Days:                             39

Total Miles:                              2045

Non Camping Nights:              9 (Motel, Friends or Family)

Longest Biking Day:                 76.0 Miles (May 15th)

Longest Biking Time:                7 Hr and 44 Min (May 15th)

Shortest Biking Day:                 22.9 Miles (May 25th)

Shortest Biking Time:                2 Hr and 45 Min (May 25th)

Highest Daily Ave:                 13.7 MPH (May 12th)

Lowest Daily Ave:                 6.3 MPH (May 18th)

Flat Tires:                                 Pat 1, John 7, Trailer 4

Broken Spokes:                        John 2

Crashes:                                   John 1, tire side wall blew out, no serious injury




It was uncanny how unusual this trip was with respect to weather, road construction, and mechanical problems.  We have never experienced such weather extremes on any of our bike trips.  In the first week, we had rain, 90 degree weather, frost and snow.  Winds so strong we did not even attempt to bike in them.  It did not seem to matter which direction we were heading, with the exception of three days out of 40, the wind was always against us.  We were in 65-70 mile straight line winds, numerous tornado watch areas, numerous severe thunderstorm watch areas, a hail storm and many nights of rain.  We were however very fortunate that most nights we were in camp and set up before it rained.


This was also the most road construction we have encountered.  Fortunately again, only two of the areas that we encountered forced us to add additional miles following the detours.  The longest of which was six miles out of our way.  Most of the others were of the type where we spent time waiting for the “flag man” or nervously trying to negotiate roads with lane closures with no shoulder and numerous cars and trucks traveling much faster than they should have been under those conditions.


In all the years that I have been biking, I have only experienced a bicycle tire sidewall failure once before and that was not a catastrophic failure.  In that case there was plenty of “warning” that something was wrong.  In the two cases that I had on this trip, both were of the catastrophic variety were the failure results in the inner tube coming through the side wall of the tire and contacting something (brake, chain, crank arms, etc) that causes the tire to puncture.  In the case of the second failure that I had, there was enough of a warning (strange noise from the rear tire) that I began to slow down to investigate and the inner tube “exploded” when it was punctured and blew the tire off the rim which wedged itself between the rim and the brake and the wheel came to a compete and instant stop.  The trailer jack knifed and tipped to the left throwing the bike to the right.   Thankfully, the SPD cleats on my biking shoes released from the pedals and I did slow roll over the handle bars.  The first point of contact was my helmet and the second point was my right shoulder. I believe that I continued to roll to my feet but it all happened very quickly.  I find it very curious that I should have two such failures.  The first tire was a high quality mountain tire.  The second one is more understandable as it was a $10 tire I got from a hardware store after the first one failed.  My spare tire is a “foldable” tire that I only use as a “spare” so I changed it after we got to a town that had a replacement tire.  Needless to say, I am now much more of a believer in helmets than I was before although I rarely rode any distance without one before.  I was very lucky to say the least!  That could have been a very messy issue for Pat to deal with.


A few final thoughts to close.


In spite of the weather, construction, et all.  It was still a great trip.  As always, we met some very interesting and friendly people along the way.  We saw some fantastic scenery, shared some great times with friends and family and had the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company in completing this challenge.  There is a tremendous feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that makes the hard work and daily challenges of a trip like this all worthwhile.


With any luck, some of the pictures from the trip should start appearing on our website in a week or two.  As usual, Pat kept a daily journal and that will be available soon on the website too.  


Have a great summer and watch for more info on our Yellowstone, Tetons and California camping, hiking and climbing trip coming up in mid July through mid August.   ....... John and Pat