Tuesday, August 3, 2010

In the end all is as it was

SA Sign

It is incredible how difficult it is to compose one blog when you are faced with responsibilities again. I have been back for one week and am just now able to do this. I honestly dont know what is going to come out on this one simply because I dont have hours on end to think about it.

The last week was riddled with rain and flats. Longer than that, actually. Ominous clouds followed me since I first entered Alabama and I had flats on a regular basis for the last two weeks. Its pretty bad when one refers to such things as "my daily flat."

A couple of blogs ago I said I would accomplish one more feat of strength and stupidity before my miles were met. The flats encouraged this. What happened was, I was so tired of patching up tubes that I decided to end it all. One last run in one day. Houston to San Antonio.

It was all planned out. Start at 5:00 AM, ride throughout the day, stop only when necessary, eat while riding and it would be done. So I appropriated all needed supplies: Twelve slices of stuffed-crust meat lovers for carbs and protein, a box of Zebra Cakes for sugar and a resolve to not deal with flats anymore.

Special thanks to this animal for providing the protein on the last day.
Pig Truck

The ride took 16 hours total with about 15 hours of riding. A large part of the hour off the bike was mainly dealing with a flat in the rain. The other part was shifting food around. I would tie the bag to the cargo net securing my sleeping bag and then reach back and grab a slice whenever hungry. I also rode through the rain, which added up to a couple of hours of riding.

At the end of the day I finished 3 days early and smashed my previous recored of 151 miles in one day by covering 202 miles in one day. The last two hours were in the dark. If anyone says that night-riding doesnt count because any record can be broken when you dont stop at night, know this: before the sun slept, I cleared 180 miles.


I ended the ride at Fisher House two mornings later. I was greeted by the managers, volunteer staff, a couple of Soldier's Angels, and guests of Fisher House. It was great meeting the guests because it gave a face to the cause. Many pictures were taken but no one who took any have emailed them to me. It would be great to receive the pictures of I took with the many people I met on this ride.

Now, well after the end of the ride, I am awake and the chance to dream is passed on to another. Whatever your desires, wherever your heart lies, turn aspirations to action and dreams into reality.

I dont think this is the best I have written but there is not much more to share. The one thing I have left is this:

As victorious horn heralds journey's end, I bid new friends many thanks, farewell, may we meet again.

John Reyes


Donations will be open for a few more days.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Microscopic Mindest

In Montgomery, Alabama, my host stated "Friendly people live in a friendly world, hostile people live in a hostile world. What do you think about that?"

It was funny that he asked me that because that was something I have thought about this entire trip. Not in those exact words but the spirit of the statement.

The summary of my response was, "From my experience, all people want to help. On an individual basis everyone is very friendly, but on the macroscopic level everyone is hostile."

Since Im at the opposite end of the color spectrum, and am often confused for many other ethnicities, my main concern was racism. Thankfully I havent encountered any. Almost everyone I have met has been friendly. Those that werent were usually in cars and I only had a moment of interaction with them.

On a microscopic level, the individual level, everyone wants to help someone. The desire to help transcends many things. Age, class, social status, economic status, race, religion, so on and so forth. However, there is one thing this desire cannot overcome, social mindset. From our youth we are raised to believe "dog eat dog," "man vs. world," "fend for yourself," etc. What this does is cause us to become introverts and the macroscopic world becomes hostile. We see people we can help but we dont because it is not our problem. So we live and let live content behind these walls around us.

What we should do is stop seeing the world as a sea of faces and apppreciate the individual. Strange as it sounds the people you meet in the briefest of times can sometimes have the greatest effect. So adopt a microscopic view and live in a friendly world. When you do, you allow yourself to influence others as well as be influenced.

So how can you start thinking on a microscopic level? Start by helping at a level you are comfortable with. You can donate blood, money, clothes, food, etc. You can also volunteer to do many things. Big Brothers Big Sisters, soup kitchens, Soldiers Angels. The first step covers the greatest distance.

Thats what I've been thinking about on this trip. I have seen the greatness one and now see the potential of the whole.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Orleans is a fantastic city. It has everything I love. I do believe the following picture perfectly sums it up.

Jazz Gumbo

The also had one of these. Something I think every city needs.

Every cities needs these

Of course being the birthplace of Jazz I had to take in some of the sounds. I came across a great jazz club on Bourbon Street.


Of course I gave a recap on Youtube and Im assuming that video was watched by those that read the blog. If you havent seen it, click the link below. There is one thing that I didnt elaborate on. My attendance to a city council meeting.

Cityt Hall

When I heard New Orleans doesnt have pedicabs I was very surprised. By coincidence, there was a meeting the day after my arrival in which the future of pedicabs in NOLA was to be decided. Being a pedicab operator in San Antoonio, I was eager to show my support. So the following day I went to the city council meeting and ended up speaking for a couple of minutes.

Being at the meeting was interesting. The main argument is pedicabs will take rides from the taxis and carriages. As an operator in a city that has all three institutions I can say this is not true. It was strange hearing the various excuses those opposed to pedicabs came up with. Some legitimate but exaggerated and others absurdly funny. My favorite was a man against pedicabs list health issues, to a panel of women mind you. He said helmets would be needed and since they would be shared that would be unsanitary because, "you know these long-haired girls be having head lice." Oh, the look on the women's faces was priceless.

At the end of the meeting the guy spear-heading the pedicab movement came up to me and said "That speech was incredible. I couldn't have written a better speech. You have some public speaker in you." The ordinance will now be passed on and then another meeting will be held in September. It feels great to think I helped pedicabs get approved in New Orleans.

A sign that sums up the beginning and end of this ride perfectly. The first and last major stops on this trip.
Street signs

Only a few days left.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

The End Is Nigh!


Traveling without a GPS was interesting. Florida was an kind of easy. I wrote down all the directions before I left and then rode using the written text and cyclometer.

While in Florida I had an epiphany. Unless at a campsite, I cannot relax in nature. I went to the beach but kept wanting to paraglide. The reason I couldn't was because I'm too skinny. Apparently the weight to wind ratio works better when you are heavier.

I ended up leaving a day early because I was kind of bored. Turned out to be a good thing though. The next day had scattered storms so Florida wouldn't have been pretty anyway.

The storms also kept me from reaching my ideal destination and I had to stop in Mobile for the night. I met a freight-hopper that was stuck just outside of the city for three days because he couldn't figure out a way in. A 30 mile state road detour, a tunnel, and a river kept him out. He and I were able to hitch a ride through the tunnel where we parted ways and I got a room.

Throughout my 12 hour ride I managed to stay completely dry. I paid for the room and headed for it and SPLASH walked right into a puddle. Both feet. Soaked.

The main reason I wasn't too worried about the lack of GPS was because its pretty much a straight shot on the 90.


Nearly impossible to get lost. Nearly. I did somehow get turned around, biked 10 miles on the wrong road, and had to ride another 18 to course correct. That's another reason I didn't make it to my intended stop.

Not quite.

I then spent two nights at a campsite with a couple I met at the beginning in Missouri. It is interesting how life works out. I met them about 12 days out and now, with 12 days left (at the time) I was meeting them again.

I also made the most perfect camp stove pancakes I have ever made.
Perfect Pancakes

Now I am in New Orleans, having fun and some other stuff that I will blog about in one dedicated to my stay here.

A friend made me realize that a big accomplishment is not just finishing the ride on time but finishing it safely. On this ride I have done the following:

650 miles cleared in the first 6 days.
77 days riding with under 7 non-riding days. All other days hit at least 20 miles.
The Appalachians and foothills in near or over 100 degree weather.
100 miles in 6 1/2 hours
151 miles in one day
Giving a pint of blood then riding another 30 miles to finish the day.
Riding without a GPS.

Taking all this into consideration makes me realize what the human body is capable of. Before this ride's end I will add another item to that list. People may say I'm crazy or extreme but I will simply expand upon the statement I told my friend.

Life is experience magnified by memory. Things that seem miniscule, trivial, or troubling become cherished moments as days go by.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Everything has changed


This state has been a lot of fun.

Of course my route is ever-changing. My daily end points are always being altered.

This allowed me to meet some more great people, initially I was going to camp my way through Alabama. My host in Auburn was great. I had an unexpected amount of fun AND was able to check something off my to-do list. I wanted to eat a one pound burger and accomplished that at Cheeburger Cheeburger.

My host for Montgomery asked me something very interesting that I will include in a blog I have been thinking about for a while.

Jumping back a bit, when I did the 151 ride I rode with my cycle shorts only to better my pedal-stroke. Ever since then I have been riding in them. Cursed me, Im a lycra freak now. They are just so comfortable and breathable.

I was waiting for the rain to pass. I usually have more room than this.
Waiting for the rain

My luck has also changed with the weather. It has been raining on a regular basis ever since entering this state. I have been able to avoid getting caught in it but it is slowing me down a bit.


Finally, I saw a blood donor van today and decided it would be a great idea to donate blood. Of course being a pint short makes the ride just a bit harder because there is not as much blood to circulate oxygen, but it makes the ride that much more fun.

Giving blood 2

There is also something else that has changed the ride a bit, for some information on that, check out the video.

Unfortunately donations have become stagnant again and there is less than 3 weeks left. If you are able to, please consider donating to a fantastic cause.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

This side of the Rubicon

It has been a long time since I have blogged and a lot has gone on. Many trying times and a enough good ones to keep me moving. Here is a recap.


I wore out my rear tire and had to replace that. The largest hole in the tire resulted in a flat. I also had to make a near 100 mile ride for the day. Not the first time I have done this and it wont be the last. At this point my mental strength was starting to be tested and my body felt like it was finally failing.

Worn Tire

I was able to eat Lexington world-famous barbecue.

Slept in and had a short run to Charlotte. Upon arrival I had a choice of exploring the city or resting as my host's home. I decided on the latter. When I arrived there, my host asked if I wanted to stay there or go and watch the mountain bike race he participates in weekly. Obviously my only option was to ride in the race.

I was passed by EVERYONE. Bear in mind I had cleared 60+ miles before race and then had a flat. I finished by jogging the bike the last five miles across the finish line.


Entered South Carolina
South Carolina

Another hot day with a weary mind and body. Up the hills and down. All I was able to think about was of the rest day coming up.

Entered Georgia

At this point I was riding in 100+ weather which, in itself, wasn't bad but I was also physically weary. Riding was now becoming a chore to be done in order to maintain a schedule instead of the vacation it previously was. This made riding a very difficult endeavor given the fact that I was entering the foothills of the Appalachians.

Upon reaching Toccoa I met a man who aspires to tour via bike as well. We conversed for a few minutes with a torrential storm looming on the horizon. We said our goodbyes and well wishes and soon parted ways and I continued the last mile to the campsite.

A few minutes later he drove up by me and asked if I would like to stay the night with his family, an offer I readily accepted. Not 20 minutes after arriving the storm hit and it seemed to rain off and on the entire night. A divine act spared me the experience of being rained out.

It is not a good feeling waking up after 8 hours of sleep feeling physically exhausted. I had breakfast at a diner in Toccoa just to avoid the ride before me. When I finally did leave I was very slow moving, crossing barely 15 miles in two hours as waves of fatigue crashed against my being. My every thought was of walking, hitching a ride, taking as train, stopping for the day and camping. All this before 9:00 AM.

As my strength waned and my iron-will became malleable my pride stepped in and kept me one pedal stroke ahead of failure. I had traversed 4000 miles without pushing my bike and I was not about to do so in the last 20% of the ride.

On a long road a rider opposite me passed and we waved. A minute or two later he came up beside me and said, "I thought you would like some company for a few miles."

I'm not quite sure how long we rode together, maybe 25 miles, but we talked about various bike related topics and my morale slowly returned to me.

When out paths separated I was the rider of past and flew through towns and counties.

Now, in Atlanta, I am relaxing and recharging, confident that I will be able to finish the ride, and finish it well.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Something unexpected

Im very tired so this will be a short one but I really wanted to share this.

My host in Richmond set up a place to stay for the following night in South Hill North Carolina. In an interesting turn of events my "host" was a comped room at the local Days Inn by an employee of said company.As she and I conversed over dinner about what Fisher House is and what they do, she became more interested in trying to support them as well.

She has spearheaded a campaign to show support for the Armed Forces before and was looking for a new project to express that appreciation even more. Things are still in the infancy of planning but I will keep in touch with her and she with Fisher House in order to put something together for Fisher House as a donation.

I am very happy to have been shifted here, as I was originally scheduled to be somewhere else that night. In my effort to raise money and AWARENESS, an unexpected donation of non-monetary value but still of high-importance may present itself.

This was something I never considered happening but I am honored to have served as muse for it.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Philadelphia, America's Birthplace

Philadelphia has been 99% pleasant.


After dropping my gear off at my host house I headed into the heart of the city. I started exploring kind of late and didnt really have an objective so I didnt see much the first day. I did however see the Liberty Bell and Penn Landing. The rest of the day was spent riding around figuring forming a plan for the next day. It was very cool to see a cop pull someone over for blatently cutting me off while riding my bike. Quite surprising.

A different view of the Liberty Bell
Spider 1

I woke up very early (this would be my 4th day averaging 5 hours sleep) and went to pick up my ticket for Independence Hall. This day I was able to see Independence Hall, two other building on the property whose names escape me, and the Graft House where Jefferson wrote the declaration. At this point I decided to have lunch which consisted of a giant banana split and a phily cheesesteak, in that order.

Independence Hall


I then spent an hour or more at the Betsy Ross house, who is of course famous for sewing the first American Flag. I didnt think there would be much to interest me there but I was happily mistaken.

Betsy Ross House
Betsy Ross Plaza

After that my journey took me to the Rodin Museum which has some incredible sculptures. My first official day of exploration ended with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Of course, I had to run up the famous steps that Rocky ran up in the movie. It was here that I finally realized I am not the runner I used to be.

Rodin' Thinker
The Thinker

Evil Eye
Evil Eye

What I though I would look like at the top.

What I really looked like.

The third day I slept in. There was a time when sleeping in meant waking up at 1 pm. Now it is waking up at 8:30. My final day in Philadelphia was primarily spent in the Ben Franklin Institute. I was there with one of my hosts and their child so we were there for quite a while using all the exhibits.

Philly's got heart.
Philly's got heart

And here I am at the end of my final day as minutes become hours and my time of departure creeps ever closer. I shall venture forth upon paths unknown to a new city and a new home.

True Freedom
Im Free

The one percent dissatisfaction was because my pricey airpump was stolen.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

What Fisher House Is

For those not greatly familiar with Fisher House or dont know about Fisher House at all here is a brief interview with Russ, assistant manager of Fisher House Fort Sam Houston.

This was initially supposed to be a youtube video with the manager of the Boston Fisher House but time was short and we were unable to do it.

1. What does Fisher House do?

Fisher Houses provide a home away from home for family of injured or sick military members and their authorized dependents receiving treatment at a medical facility. Patients recover more quickly and completely when family members are here to support. As Mr. Fisher said, "Family is the best medicine".

2. How many families have Fisher House helped since its inception?

How many families served since inception?

Over 11,000 saving them over $15 Million in lodging costs plus savings on food and transportation costs..

3. How long can a family stay at a Fisher House?

As long as necessary. The longest stay we have had at our Fisher House (Fort Sam Houston) was 668 days. Don't know if any other Fisher House has a longer stay.

4. What fees do families pay at Fisher Houses?


5. How many Fisher Houses exist?

Currently there are 45 fisher Houses. Five more under construction and at least 12 more on the drawing boards.

6. How does Fisher House acquire funds for operation?

There are Army, Navy, Air Force and VA Fisher Houses. Fisher Houses rely on donations for their existence. I believe VA Fisher Houses receive funding but the rest of us rely on donations.

Russell T. Fritz
Assistant Manager
BAMC Fisher Houses

There you have it. The standard room includes a bed, television, alarm clock full bath room, iron/ironing board and computer. Sheets and towels are provided as well as cookware, tableware and laundry detergent. There is a house kitchen for cooking and free washer and dryers for laundry. I'm sure I'm leaving some stuff out. It is basically a home away from home.

Hopefully this clears up and misconceptions or provides a better understanding of the organization that I am riding on behalf of in order to raise money and awareness.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010


It Sure Is 2

I made a video revealing some interesting things about me, in regard to the ride, but the lighting was horrendous so I took it down. Guess I should start watching them before I post. Or pick better spots. I will re-record the video and post it soon.

Boston, halfway.

It was a great stay, I had a lot of fun, and a lot of firsts. The first day was productive but no exploration was accomplished so I will skip forward to the second day.

While here I was able to ride some of the Freedom Trail but I was sidetracked by a Beatles tribute band. They were actually really good and I ended up watching them and making a meal out of free samples for nearly an hour.

The band's name was Beatle Juice
Beatle Juice

I was able to walk through Paul Revere's house and visit a very interesting cemetery. In addition to these excursions I went to Boston Common, the Public Garden and purchased some nifty and needed bike gear.

Revere's House
Revere's House

Cemetary in Boston

The first day of exploration ended with a dinner with a family I met through Soldier's Angels (all the Soldier's Angels people have been incredible) and they took me to eat fried seafood at a delicious restaurant called Seawitch*. After dinner, they took me to Salem, which I was very interested in seeing, for ice-cream. Salem had some great sights too and the history I heard about certain places there was fantastic. I was very glad to have met these people and seen these sights.
*No witches were present.

House of Seven Gables
House of Seven Gables

Statue in Salem
Witch Statue, not really

My second full day truly was a day of firsts. I kayaked for the first time along the Charles River. Kayaks could only be rented on the weekend along the Hudson so I wasn't able to in New York but I was glad that I wasn't. Kayaking at my turnaround point was a great close to the second leg. A few people commented, in a positive manner, that I was moving pretty fast.

In the Kayak

First Person View

After kayaking I went sailing for the first time. My host in Boston loves sailing and offered to take me on the river. That was a lot of fun as well. It reminded me of being on a water-park ride. The views from the water were incredible but I didn't have my camera from me as I was wisely advised that I should leave them on shore.

During this time I recorded the video that I didn't post because it was too dark then went back to the host home for dinner and preparations for the next day. Dinner was home-cooked lobster. Not better than the haddock the night prior, just different. The lobster reminded me of eating steak, consistency wise. Thus I shall refer to it henceforth as "steak of the sea."

So it seems in a city of history my exploration of was lacking but I thoroughly enjoyed my stay, for it consisted of experiences not previously known.

I realize that the writing style of this entry becomes very distinct at the end, to say the least. I shall attribute this to a fatigue induced poetic delirium.

And I ride on. . .

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Reminder of reasons

The Wall

"While in DC I saw some incredible memorials and thought about all the sacrifices that have been made to make this country what it is. Yeah things are not perfect but the translation for Utopia is "No place"

If you can, try to visit DC sometime in the future. Walking these streets and seeing the monuments and memorials, you realize that we live in the shadow of great men. Men that truly believed in the idea of America and fought, and sacrificed, in order to breath life into that idea.

Those morals are carried on today by our Armed Forces that fight and sacrifice so much that we may live comfortably."

The above is a direct copy from the description I posted in my Youtube video about my stay in DC.

The reason I am posting it here is to remind all that this ride, this blog isn't just a chronicling of my experiences in America. It is a fundraiser in order to say thanks for all that the Armed forces have done and sacrificed in order to help preserve our freedom.

The past week+ the fundraising part has been stagnant. I don't place and blame or disappointment on anyone. I understand some are not able to give financially. I also understand some may be waiting until the journey is complete to donate.

But if you are straddling the fence about whether you should or shouldn't donate just think about what life is like on the other side of the fence. Our troops don't have family with them when they are deployed. Some may only have their pictures and memories. Some can get online but not all. They may not be able to shower everyday or eat their favorite food. They can't hug their loved one or sleep in their own bed. The reason they can't do that is because if these few didn't sacrifice their luxeries we could all lose ours.

Unknown Soldier

By donating a few dollars, $1, $5, $25, etc. you aren't saying you support the war or are against it. It isn't about that, it is about supporting our troops.

Korean War

If you are able to give a few dollars and are willing to do so click here. Bear in mind I make no financial gain from any monies earned through donations. All money is given in full to Fisher House Organization.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Here's the situation


The past few days have been a lot of fun and I feel very accomplished.

In Hershey, I was hosted by some great people and had some incredible food. I was also able to fulfill something that I have wanted to do for a long time. I went to Herhsey Park.


It was delicious, fun. I was surprised at how many rollercoasters they had there. I was able to ride all but one, but I hear that one isnt all that great. At least thats what I heard from the person I went with.

Hershey had some very cool coasters and we sat right up front on each one so the experience was that much better. Of course I had to buy a chocolate bar there and purchased a big Special Dark Hershey bar but forgot it at the house I was staying at. I remembered when I was about two blocks away but I was too far gone at that point. I have a strict no back-tracking policy, lest I be lost and need to because I took a wrong turn. Enjoy the candy bar you two, its in the freezer.

Chocolate World

Riding out I passed through Amish Country and saw Amish carriages, kids in straw hats and bonnets, and bearded men worthy of the name Ezekiel. That was a really cool sight to see. I had been waiting for that since Illinois.

Amish Carriage

Today, in New Jersey, was able to visit a sight that I have been very excited about. I have wanted to see this since I first heard about it years ago. In a small town called Grover's Mill lies a monument to The War Of The Worlds. I have been a fan of this book and HG Wells since I was a kid so I was more excited about visiting this place than New York. The only thing I regret is not recording a video there. Maybe on my return, if I pass through here again.

WOTW Monument 2 edit

I was met there by a nice couple that live nearby treated me to lunch. I hope I get to see them again on the "andback" portion of this ride. Perhaps I can treat them to lunch that time.

All in all, I have had a great week and hope that New York caps off the weekend proper. I just havent decided if I should have New York pizza or hot dogs first.