Father/Son 500 mile bike trip

Bike Trip Blog as posted in the Muskogee Phoenix Newspaper

A TRIP TO REMEMBER –  FATHER AND SON  – 6 DAYS  –  575 MILES

HOUSTON, TEXAS TO MUSKOGEE, OK IN 100 DEGREE SUMMER HEAT -AUGUST 2-7 ,2005


After flying into Houston at 1:30 pm my sister Tami picked Stephen and I up from Houston Intercontinental airport.

We spent a few hours re-assembling our bikes that we had sent Fed-Ex Ground last Wednesday. Fortunately the bikes arrived in good condition! Stephen and I did a test run this evening and had to fine tune all of the settings on our seats, handle bars, etc.

We hung out with my sister Tami, her husband Darrell and four kids and went to bed around 11 pm for our 4:30 am wake up in the morning.

Tuesday, August 2nd

After a pretty tough night of throwing up several times (no seafood for me for a while) I was pretty queazy and weak in this morning. We had a little breakfast after waking up and Tami took us north of the Houston traffic so we could launch around 7 a.m.

We headed due north on Highway 59 in full bike apparel carrying 25-30 lbs of gear per bike to cover us for the six-day trip.

People were really nice at the several convenient stores which served as our pit stops for filling our water bottles. This is pretty important as we need to drink up to two 24 oz. bottles each hour for six to seven hours of riding time.

All went pretty well in the 97 degree heat and very high humidity. The hardest part of the day was just after a rain, in smothering humidity when we rode over 15 miles in loose gravel on the shoulder. Tomorrow we’ll try to eat earlier than the 1:30 pm lunch stop today. It was way too late due to no place to stop, and left us weak and weary.

Stephen set a good pace of 14 mph with a total of 5 hours and ten minutes on the road. I better go for now since we are pressed for time as we are borrowing a computer at Carpenter’s Way Church here in Lufkin to send our blog to the Muskogee Phoenix Newspaper.

Wednesday August 3

Today had to be one of the toughest physical challenges of my life. It wasn’t as tough for Stephen, as he is in much better shape than his old man. But he did admit that it was his roughest riding day.

We woke at 5 am and ate a quick breakfast at La Quinta Inn in Lufkin, TX. By the time we got bikes aired up and loaded with gear it was 7 am before we hit the road.

The first 25 miles northeast of Lufkin was great, then we started climbing some SERIOUSLY STEEP elevations. Today on our longest riding day of over 90 miles we tackled dozens killer hills between mile 30 and mile 75. We did train on hills, but nothing like these. Several of them kicked by behind, and one I had to take a sissy break half way up. The hills were so steep we cruised almost 40 mph after we finally reached the peak.

Stephen’s favorite part of the day was traveling 35+ mph down a steep decline skiing on wood chips that had been dumped by logging trucks. Anyway, we survived the adventure and lived to tell about it.

I can’t even begin to explain how tough today was. The combination between the 100 degree heat, humidity, and the crazy hills left me stopping several times to cool off throughout the day. Stephen was very patient as we arrived 4 hours later than expected at 6:30 pm! I spent over an hour trying to cool my body off, sitting on the floor of a convenient store with my upper body leaning inside a walk-in cooler. All pride was set aside. I didn’t care what people thought. They could get their beer from another cooler as far as I was concerned. Sitting there I was conscious, but somewhat delusional, and confused, I finally got my body temp to go down, and we hit the road.

We spent 11 hours tackling our most difficult day, and only averaged 10 mph because of the hills.

Tomorrow’s another day as we are riding about 80 miles to a small town called Greenville, TX. I’m going to try hard not to hold us up. So much for my being in shape! By the way, we weighed at the health club last night and both have lost 6 lbs. so far. Great weight loss plan!

Thursday, August 4

Tyler to Greenville, TX

Our day started at 5 am with breakfast at LaQuinta. We started shortly after 6:30 am and continued to tackle the hills that we left yesterday. Although they lasted for 40 miles or so, they were not near as steep as yesterday’s climbs.

After a hot morning of 95+ degrees we stopped for lunch at the “Y’all Come Back Cafe” in Alba, TX. We just couldn’t resist checking it out with a name like that. Overall the burgers were pretty good but we could hardly see across the table for the cancer causing carcinogens in the air.

The next few hours were extremely hot, and Stephen had his first blow out. I’m still winning two to one in that category.

The afternoon temps got close to 100 degrees but then a storm came through to cool things off. That’s the good news. The bad news is that 15 miles from our final destination close to Lone Oak, TX we got pummeled with a hail storm. No kidding, it was coming down so hard we went to a couple of businesses to seek shelter. We were scrambling to cover our bike computers, GPS and cameras.

Fortunately a place called East Texas Furniture Direct became our safe haven as the owner Dawn Kennedy and a friend let us and our bikes in to wait out the weather. Talk about a guardian angel! Forty minutes later with the parking lot flooded and water oozing under the front door of the business, we got back on the road headed for Greenville.

Something I forgot to mention. After we had biked over 70 miles or so and feeling pretty leg weary, another bicycler passed us going about double our speed. The next thing I know, Stephen turns and says “I’m catching him, see ya.”

My son proceeded to spend the next mile or so closing the gap and then completely caught up with him. What can I say, that’s my son, never to be outdone!

Well, tomorrow we cross the Red River riding from Greenville, Texas, go through Dennison to Durant, OK. Ready to see good old OK.

Gotta go for now. Time to chill a little, sleep and do it all over again tomorrow.

Friday, August 5th

Day 4 of 6 Greenville, TX to Durant,OK

This was a character builder, for sure.

Our day started as usual with a 5 am wake up call. We were greeted by severely cramping, aching legs. Definitely it was a challenge to get the bodies going. We even had some conversation and conflict about taking a break for our bodies to recuperate. Didn’t talk to each other for a while in the process. The determining factor for deciding to go on was that 1.5 million people with lupus, who we are doing this ride for, will wake up to aching, hurting bodies, and they will be determined to make it through the day. SO SHOULD WE!

We averaged less than 10 miles per hour and fought the 100 degree heat all day. During the morning we had two blow outs, I’m still ahead of Stephen 3 flats to 2.

After a pretty weak dog chase for about 30 yards from a Collie, we pull into Whiteright, Texas for lunch. The unfortunate things was that Highway 69 North turned right out of Whiteright but we didn’t. We ended up 12 miles west on Highway 11 before we found out what we had done. Well, after taking an unexpected tour of Sherman, and our 18-20 mile detour we got back on track to Highway 69. By this time we were hungry, tired, running low on water, and to top that off I ended up taking a nasty spill off of a steep shoulder of highway 69. Not to worry, I wasn’t hurt, but did provide great entertainment for rush hour motorists of Dennison.

At this point in the day needing bike parts and needing to reach a bike shop before closing time, we swallowed our pride and called our rescuer Jim Pena, a staff member at a local Durant Church. With temps hovering still at 100 degrees we loaded our bikes and ourselves into his SUV and headed 20 miles to The Bike Shop of Durant and to our Hotel.

At the end of the day some Mexican Food helped our situation. I then sat down to write and send the journal for the day. After 1 ½ hours inserting pictures and text I hit send and the computer went down. You guessed it, I lost the whole thing.

Anyway, momma said there would be days like this…

Saturday, August 6

Day 5 of 6 From Durant to McAlester

After a day like yesterday we were due something that looked a whole lot better. Today was perfect in every way. The weather was nice at 90 degrees and overcast most of the day. We fought minimal wind and the roads were good with the exception of the last 10 miles with no shoulder. We complete 75 miles in less than 6 hours total, 60 of them by lunch time. The best part was that Dene’ and Courtney met us in McAlester and are spending the night with us tonight at Holiday Inn Express. It’s so good to see them and to have them send us off in the morning.

We can’t wait to pull into our final destination tomorrow only 60 miles away at Highway 69 and Peak Boulevard just as we come into Muskogee. Channel 6 News will be there to do a short interview.

Wow, has it been a ride, making memories of a lifetime with my son. I told him today that he has to do this same ride with his son when he’s in his 40’s so he can find out first hand how hard this is on an old man.

Sunday, August 7, 2005

From McAlester to Muskogee, OK

Our last and final day of our 500+ mile bike trip.

It was great having Dene’ and Courtney at the hotel with us our last night on the road. We had a nice family dinner at Pete’s Place in Krebs, OK, just ten minutes from our hotel. After soaking our tired bodies in the hot tub, we hung out with our girls a little more, did some blogging, and went to bed around 11 pm.

The last day was bitter-sweet. We were a little sad that our father/son adventure was coming to an end, but relieved that home was our final destination today. After having breakfast with Dene’ at the hotel, Stephen and I headed due north toward Muskogee, OK. This would be our shortest riding day of 65 miles, but that was fine with us since it was to be a very hot day. Also, our bikes were 30 lbs lighter since we didn’t have to carry our stuff with us.

We covered 30 miles before lunch in Eufaula, OK. We watched part of a wake board competition on lake Eufaula as we ate with Dene’ and Courtney. Our girls drove ahead to a couple of points and took pictures and video of us throughout the day.

Our final stretch was one to remember. The heat was bad with little to no air flow. We both got overheated and had to stop at a convenience store to cool off. We were delayed by two flat tires, one apiece, putting me in command 5-3 of the blow out challenge. I also had another flat during the last mile, but I decided to not change it and just finish the ride with it deflated.

What was cool was the greeting from some of our friends as we pulled into our final stretch. They cheered us on in the afternoon heat as I limped in on a flat rear tire, and we all laughed as Stephen nearly wiped out with his victory wheelie.

Man, what a trip to remember, and a tremendous challenge that pushed us harder than we ever expected. What a ride! Six days, 575+ miles in 100 degree

August heat, two guys toting their own gear, biking for a cause they believe in, over 190 bottles of water and Gatorade, two boxes of protein bars, 9 flat tires, 6 hairy dog chases, a hail storm, and memories of a lifetime to cherish.

Most of all, it was for a great cause for people like my wife Dene’ with who wakes up every day with Lupus. It was our privilege to raise awareness and funds for research, and hope for a cure.

Over and out!

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