South Dakota

We would have never guessed the fun and adventure we would encounter in South Dakota. We enjoyed incredible scenery, epic & grand views, majestic animals and fun with family.

We spent May 30, 2019 through June 6, 2019 in South Dakota.

Typically we do not take in tourist regions and activities but we both wanted to check out Wind Cave. We did a cave tour. It was considered a strenuous one but neither of us were even remotely winded from the many steps through the belly of the cave. There are a few interesting cave formations like the box work and the cave popcorn but all in all the lack of stalactites and flowstones made it less appealing to me. I love active, living caves with drops of water falling from above through limestone. This is not one of those types of caves. I did enjoy it none the less.

We got in a few epic bicycle rides on the road bikes. We had planned to go up to a peak north of Wind Cave but were turned around by large herds of bison with new babies that were not only along the road but on the road. These mamas are aggressive and I would rather tackle a car than a bison while on a bike! The Prairie Dogs are hilarious as they chirp and cackle. Antelope look like deer with diapers. I love the cycling thorugh such majestic areas.

We camped at the Wind Cave campground, enjoying the solitude since there were few others here.

There is such a variety of birds and flowers and butterflies and other forms of wildlife. Seeing these from the seat of a bicycle makes it somehow feel more “real”. There is nothing between me and what is laid out before me.

We took the Salsas out on a local trail from Cottonwood Camground outside of Hotsprings, SD. There is an incredible trail and we had a blast. We saw three badgers although only one stayed above ground while we cycled past. After leaving the trail we encountered amazing double track on our way back to Cottonwood. This campground was perched on top of a hill and was incredibly quiet.

Meeting up with my sister Juli, her husband Ed and their friends Portia and Sedona was a lot of fun. We cycled to meet them for coffee in Hot Springs, SD. We then drove to meet them later in Interior, SD which is due south of the Badlands National Park. We enjoyed some grilled ribs and roasted marshmallows.

No trip to SD is complete without seeing Crazyhorse Monument.

We also saw a Bicycle Monument along the roadway. This was a pile of bikes with a few “sculptures”. Very odd!

We camped near Mt Rushmore at Wrinkled Rock Climbers Trailhead. This place allows camping up to 14 days. There is no water or electric but there is a vault toilet. This place was amazing and it allowed us to cycle around Mt. Rushmore and then cut back up through on the Centennial Trail in pouring down rain. What a FUN ride!!

The Bandlands National Park is what we would consider a windshield park. It is beautiful and the storms are intense when they roll through. There are pulloffs to see the views and very few hiking trails. We drove through before boondocking our van at the National Grasslands outside the park.

The area that we parked was on the edge of the Bandlands and we were greeted to a most phenominal sunrise.

Good morning world! Life on the road is incredible and full of things to see and do and so many incredible sites to witness.

Our time in South Dakota was incredible and I have no doubt it is a place we will return to.

Friends We’ve Never Met Before – Colorado

The world really is a very small place and meeting friends for the first time is FUN! Although we’d never met before, it was as though we’d known each other for many MANY years.

A couple of years ago we were introduced to Jenn & Ron via our Crazy Guy on a Bike journals. We kept in contact and on May 26, 2019 we got to meet for the first time face to face. What an incredibly fun young couple! We spent a few days together taking in a bike ride and several walks.

Curtis, Jenn, Ron and Jenny
Enjoying a fun day on the bike trails in Centennial, CO

We left Centennial, CO on May 29th and headed on for a quick visit with yet another amazing couple, Curt and Cathy .

https://rideoffthearth.wordpress.com

Curt and Cathy ride a tandem and have spent over 15 years on the road toruing various locations throughout the world. We would have loved to spend more time with them but our schedule said otherwise. But, I have no doubt that our paths will indeed cross in the future.

Kindred Spirits … NO DOUBT!

Curtis, Jenny, Curt, Cathy and their delightful Granddaughter.

Mark Twain Natl Forest Fun – Missouri

It’s been a rainy spring, a very rainy springtime and many areas are flooded out. But this wouldn’t stop us from having some fun, both hiking as well as cycling. We want to ride some of the Ozark Trail and there is access to the trail at the Greer Crossing Recreational Area in Missouri. We rolled in and for $10 a night we had a beautiful campsite, fire pit, potable water as well as pit toilets. For an added perk, with the annual national parks pass the cost was cut in half so our total fee for the 2 nights we spent here was $10 total. Just having access to water and a secure place to leave the van while we are out playing on the bikes was so very well worth is.

It’s raining and now it’s not and then it’s raining and then it’s not. Rain, rain and more rain, rivers and streams are swollen. We hopped on the Salsa bikes and headed south toward Greer Springs Trail. We knew we couldn’t take the bikes on the trail but that didn’t mean we couldn’t ride them to the trailhead.

The Salsas were locked to a tree at the trailhead to the springs.

Greer Springs is incredible, the water boils up from the ground under the Greer Spring Branch, thousands of gallons boiling like crazy. The rain created green lush everything. Beautiful!

We got back to the campgrounds and decided we really wanted to check out the Ozark Trail.

Well, all that rain caught up with us, the trail was flooded out and our ride on the trail ended all too soon. But we did enjoy the spring time flowers.

Upon leaving Greer Springs area, we headed for Falling Spring Mill. It was nearing lunchtime and we opted to picnic at the spring. This place was beautiful! The original cabin and the old mill house still stand.

The butterflies are incredible! They are such amazing insects.

Magic!!

There is something magical about butterflies and we spotted these large clusters on the road. Oh sure, they are feeding on scat that was left behind on the gravel road. These beauties are very docile and I was even able to pick one up.

We headed to our home for the night at Pinewoods Lake. There is a bike / hiking trail around the lake and with it being such a clear day we opted to take a quick ride around it.

There is a lot of beaver activity on the lake. So much so that the whole end of the lake flooded out the trail due to the beaver lodges and dams.

It’s been a remarkable couple of days, skies cleared and we enjoyed fantastic blue skies. The Pinewoods Lake is a free campsite and even though there was no potable water or services, we had a blast.

Our coutry, the USA has such diverse areas, such beauty but we have to look for it. And find it….we did.

Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon

“I’m going to run a marathon”, those words tumbled out of my mouth as I slowly pedalled my way up a steep Peruvian mountain pass. I could only think of one marathon that I would even be remotely interested in doing, the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon #RuntoRemember. But could I realistically do a full marathon with virtually no training? I planned to be back stateside and pretty much off my bike by Feb. 1, 2019. That gave me Feb – April to train but again, a full? Well, after chatting back and forth with Amy Downs Head, a survivor of the horrific bombing back in 1995 that killed so many and injured many more, she stated that she would be walking the 1/2 marathon. Count me IN! I signed up from my hotel room in Punta Arenas, Chile.

We had so much happening and my training was non-existant for this event and I have to admit I was very concerned about my ability to complete a 13.1 mile walk. We all have those little voices that say “you can’t” or “you are going to fail” or “you won’t finish” and I am no different. Those voices were loud and I talked myself out of the 1/2 and then back into the 1/2 numerous times. When the time came though, the decision was really easy and after rolling into OKC on April 24, 2019 I was fully committed to doing it.

Moni has a beautiful stand of purple and yellow Iris.

Oklahoma Freewheel, a cross state bicycle ride brought many life long friends together. I met Moni in 2007 when I did my first of seven OKFWs. We spent our time in OKC with Moni. We also got a chance to visit with Moni’s bike partner, Mel. It was really great to see him again.

On Friday, April 27, 2019 we set out on “The Moni Tour” of OKC. I needed to do packet pickup for the Sunday 1/2 Marathon. The tour took us from Moni’s home to downtown OKC.

We cycled to the Cox Convention center where Moni and Curtis waited for me outside. I walked in and the signs hit me; this just got REAL! I’ve done a number of 10Km runs but never anything of this distance. I shoved those nasty little voices to the back. I will do this. There were few people at the Expo and I had no wait time to get by Bib# and my participants shirt. I also purchased a 13.1 decal for the back of the van. This is real.

We made our way back to Moni’s house via some really awesome bicycle trails. This city is incredibly bike friendly and we really enjoyed that.

Saturday Curtis and I took off on trails and made our way to Pro Bike, hoping to pick up some tire sealant. The man behind the counter was Andy, another OKFW friend from years ago. Monday night he will come over to Moni’s for supper so we get a chance to visit more in depth.

Parking and traffic for the marathon was insane. There is a shuttle bus from some local hotels. We decided to head to an IHOP for a 4AM breakfast, start the day off right and then I could catch one of the shuttles from right there. This worked out fantastic. Curtis remained behind, opting to not fight the traffic into downtown. He was able to track my progress via a phone app.

Amy Downs Head and I at the start of the 1/2 Marathon. We were in Corral E because we are walking.

The day was incredible! The energy of this race was awesome. Amy and I walked much of the race together. The first 5Km I walked a brisk pace, then I dealt with a very long bathroom line. Amy passed by while I was in line but I was able to jog and catch up to her, allowing us to chat away the last 10 miles together. We encountered a lot of fun and fun people along the route.

Amy & I walking the 1/2 Marathon. So awesome and such an honor to do with this remarkable woman. It is a privilege to call her “Friend”.

My goal was to complete the race with a 20 minute walk pace. I was so happy to have achieved that goal and finished. I had aches and pains like anyone else and I did it.

I bumped into Mary and Curt, two more OKFW friends and we had a chance to chat before collecting my finishers shirt and boarding the shuttle back to the IHOP.

I did it, I am still in shock that I did. My legs are a bit sore but I am grinning ear to ear.

I DID IT!

Kerrville, Texas

Easter weekend, three days of cycling through the hill country of Texas and a chance to get together with my kiddo, Mike. Yea, he’s in his mid thirties but he will forever be my kiddo. Mike’s bride is visiting friends in Washington so he opted to spend the weekend with us.

The first day of cycling was based out of Fredericksburg, Texas. I have been through this town in the past but never started a bike ride out if it. We opted to keep our days short, doing the 30 mile routes. We’ve focused so much on the van build these pasat two months that our sit bones have gotten soft so we really need to ease back into the bike saddle. Thirty mile rides, three days in a row will definitely be beneficial. Photos for day one out of Fredericksburg, well they didn’t happen. We were so enjoying the fresh air, the countryside, the views that we just hung on tight and let the miles click by. Before we knew it we were back to the van, the ride was done an we hadn’t taken a single shot! Oh well. The memories will be those in our brain.

We headed on to Kerrville, TX where we had a campsite waiting for us. Mike joined us late in the afternoon and we built a fire in the pit. So much laughter ensued as the BS around the campfire got thick. Man I loved it!!

Building this fire was way too easy! We found partially burned pine boards that were very dry, burned fast and easy. The jokes and the BS around the campfire ensued and we laughed late into the night.

Day two of riding we left out of the campground. Mike sent one of his drones into the air and followed us for a bit on the route.

The route today is one of my favorites, fantastic hill climbing. The “Good Morning Wake Me up Hills”, love them!! Sunshine, blue skies and wind; yea wind! But to be honest the wind was not at all bothersome and just added to the delight of the day.

The route was again right at 30ish miles and we totally enjoyed it. We got back to the campground and refilled small canisters of propane from our big tank. For us this is not a holiday or vacation, this is life and chores are necessary.

After chore time it was fun time with the fire … again. But tonight we roast PEEPS. It is Easter after all and Easter is all about the Peeps and the Chocolate Bunnies. We all partook in the roasted Peepery, is that even a word? Anyway, it is now. Peeps, yea, roasted over an open fire. We tried the Cotton Candy Peep Chicks as well as the traditional yellow Peep Bunnies. They all roast about the same but the sugar on the outside carmelizes and creates an internal gooey marshmallow goodness.

With a wonderful fire going we threw brauts on the grill along with aluminum packets filled with potatoes, onions and asparagas. We ate and ate, then ate some more. We had so much fun with Mike, I laughed and chuckled and then laughed some more.

Mike is such a talent. He flies several drones and created a fun video for us commemorating the weekend.

Our final morning of riding was overcast. We still enjoyed our 20 mile ride.

We got back to the camp and just chilled. Monday morning we headed out and Mike headed back to College Station. He and his beautiful bride Rachel will be moving to Connecticut shortly. I am so very proud of them both.

Big Bend National Park

Springtime in Texas, an explosion of flowers and this spring showed Spring in all it’s bright and bold colors.

The van is liveable and we left Aransas Pass, TX on April 9. It’s time to check out the comfort of our new home after all it’s our new living space for the next while until we can officially find a piece of dirt to call our own. In the meantime our home is on wheels.

After living in a tent for the past 2 – 1/2 years, this van is a huge upgrade. We’ve learned to live without running water and in a small space. With a full solar system we are now able to live without plugging in. There is no worry of leaks in the mattress and we have a two burner stove. We can now get from one point to another faster now. Cycling is still our Number 1 mode of transportation but the van will get us great distances quickly when we need to.

The new Salsa Fargos hang, they are very long. The two road bikes sit on the floor. We still have space for some firewood, a 4 foot ladder, lawn chairs and “stuff”.

We set off for West Texas. Texas is a huge state and the drive will take about 10 hours. Wow, 10 hours in a van; that’s like 10 days worth of cycling. The van makes quick work of a longer distance.

Big Bend National Park is a spring destination that I have wanted to witness. I do love the desert, especially the high deserts. No surprises to anyone who knows me, I love the flowers and the bloom did not disappoint. The cactus were incredible and the other pops of color competing for show were everywhere.

The animals and birds are waking up and we had quite a show with the variety we saw.

I was surprised as to how hot it got during the day and the wind! This was Patagonia style winds, strong and they whipped up the sand and the dust, blowing all night. I really hate wind.

Now that we have been to Big Bend, we probably won’t go back. It’s a huge investment in time and effort to get to it. But it’s not really cycle friendly. There are no bike trails other than the roadways. There are some incredibly 4×4 roads within the park and we did cycle a few times on them but the lack of services, no water other than a few locations makes it very difficult without carrying days worth. We did however get in some riding on the new Salsas and had a blast. These bikes are an absolute dream and the upcoming adventures we are starting to pencil in and plan are going to be incredible.

We did get a chance to do a little bit of hiking and checked out Balanced Rock. This was a 2.2 mile round trip trail that we took in at sunset. Beautiful. We cycled to the trail head, locked the bikes to the sign post and headed up. We were the only people there and the views were breath taking.

We have committed to each other the explore North America, the lower 48, Alaska and Canada for a minimum of 2 years and this was our first major stop on our new journey.

If this is what our next couple of years has in store for us, BRING IT ON!! I cannot wait to see what is around the next corner, the next hill and we both really look forward to getting back on the bikes and exploring this incredible planet.

The Ides of March

Van conversion has consumed our waking days and the project is coming along very nicely. Check out the tab above “Van Life” for the on-going build out. We hit the road on April 7, 2019 and what is done will be done. A few minor things like trim work will wait but we are so ready to roll. Not just roll in the van but roll out of the van. We will carry at all times 4 bikes. For the most part we will carry the Surlys and the Salsas. On rare occasion we will swap out for the roadies, it will just depend on the upcoming ride details. When we roll on April 7, 2019 we will have the entire van build out documented on the tab above. It’s been a work of love and let me add, we completed in a mere 36 days from start to finish!!! Long hours, dedicaction and a whole lot of custom work. But I have to say the finished product is amazing. Stay tuned for details and watch the above link!!

From the road

Our discovery of the Americas is winding down and WOW!! what an adventure it has been.  We have purchased flights back home, leaving South America on January 18, 2019.  At that point this journey of the America’s will end.   A new chapter in our lives will start and future tours and fun times will be played out on this  blog site.

We will leave the journals up on the CrazyguyonaBike website.  These included lots of photos and details including maps.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/cjbiketours2018  Our South American Tour

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/cjbiketours2017  Exploring Mexico & Central America

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/cjbiketours2016  Alaska to Baja

Return to Medellin

Lethargic depression is what we call it, that longing ache to get back to our lives.  We had only been stateside about 2 weeks when it started creeping into the far reaching corners of our mind.  We missed the every day routine, seeing new sites, hearing new sounds, experiencing new things.  Cycle touring gives us purpose, it’s what we do and who we are.

Plane tickets had to be purchased in advance, medical tests were scheduled in advance without knowing if there would be required follow-ups.  Luckily, we are healthy which is a very good thing.  However, now we had so much time to burn in the states.

The words “Is it Dec. 6th yet?” were said often, too often.  We compensated by eating and drinking too much, we gained weight and with that we longed for the open roads even more.  Dec. 6th could not come quick enough.

We spent Thanksgiving in El Dorado, Arkansas with Curtis’ mom and sister.  We spent time in our Little House in the Piney Woods.  I flew to Minnesota for a Girlfriends Weekend with my bestie Colleen.  We did medical tests, eye exams, dental check ups and other such things in Longview, TX.  We visited with friends and finally we made our way back to Aransas Pass where my folks reside.  It felt like we were off our bikes years and years but alas it was only roughly 2 months.

And then it happened, Dec. 6th rolled around, the calendar days moved forward and we welcomed our flight day back to Medellin.  Back to our bicycles awaiting our return.  My sister Juli and my Mom took Curtis and I to the Corpus Christi airport.  We had a 7:35 AM flight so it was an early arrival.  They dropped us off along with three large bags to check.  We got in line, checked the bags and waited for the flight to depart.  The flight to Houston was non-eventful, as was the flight from Houston to Miami.  We had a two hour layover in Miami.2Cool, our flight was on time.  Just as the flight was beginning to board, our names were called to the flight counter.  They were not going to allow us to board the plane since we had no exit flight our bus ticket out of Colombia.  They were wanting us to purchase a return flight. It took about 15 minutes of discussion and for Curtis to explain that we were on bicycles before they finally allowed us to board without buying a return ticket.   They required the name and address of our hotel we would be staying at, luckily Curtis had one booked so we were able to provide that information.  I have to say other than that snafu the flight was amazing.4Each seat on our Avianca flight has a built in screen for us to enjoy a movie or tv program.  In addition, we were offered a full meal on board which turned out to actually be pretty good.  This made the three hour flight go fast.

Immigration was a snap, they never even questioned our exit plans, they did ask where we were staying so again the hotel information was needed.  We were just stamped through and that was that.  Next was baggage claim and we heard our names called over the loudspeaker again.  It seems that our 3 bags decided to remain in Miami but we were assured they would be here in the morning and delivered to our hotel, again very relieved to have had a hotel selected that we could provide information about.7Curtis had arranged a taxi to pick us up.  It is about an hour drive from the airport to our hotel.  I have to say it felt good to be back in Colombia.

The hotel was booked for one night, tomorrow our bags arrive and we will be off to reclaim our bicycles, or so we thought.1The next day, Dec. 7 came and went, no bags.  We found out that they were sent to Bogota and would be on a flight soon.  We stayed a 2nd night at the hotel.  Finally, on Dec. 8 at 9:30am we were informed that our bags were on a truck bound for our hotel.  What we thought was right away turned into hours.

Our bags finally arrived at 3:20pm and by 3:25pm we were in a taxi enroute to Casa de Ciclistas.  Our wait was over and we had our bags in hand.  These bags contained basically our whole lives!  Tent, sleeping gear, camping gear, clothing and all of the bike parts to totally rebuild the bikes.  We were even more relieved to find that the bags were not even opened, consequently nothing was missing or lost.

Our adventure awaits!!

 

 

 

Camping Texas Style

 

We have a few new items, replacements that we needed to make while we were stateside.  Not wanting any surprises in a negative sense once we hit the mountains of Colombia and beyond, a shakedown mini-camping tour is just what we needed.

We utilized a website http://www.freecampsites.net and hoped to do mostly free camping or wild camping.

Our first site was superb.  It was called Neches Bluff,  coordinates 31.5673910, -95.1634620  This area has a number of places where you can camp and includes one pit toilet.  It appears to be an area very busy during hunting season on the weekends, but we were there mid week and had the place to ourselves.  We chose a very large site with a bit stone fire ring.  Finding a good source of hickory wood, we built an incredible fire and cooked our supper over the open flames.   Coyotes sang to us throughout the night as did the owls.

 

We departed in the morning heading for yet another free site at Lake Limestone.  31.4481370, -96.3774730    I had never heard of this lake but there were three sites listed.  We checked out each one and settled on the 3rd site.  The camping was incredible.  There was a couple of fishermen than came and went but for the most part we had the place to ourselves.  We walked around a bit, walked the shoreline of the lake and checked out the one bathroom.  It was not in the best condition but it was useable.  I had to laugh at the sign posted in the womens bathroom to cover a broken front window.  It seems that they have a weight limit on ladies using their potty.   One of our Thermarest pads has a leak and we attempted to find the leak, no luck.  Tonight we will try and make sure the valve is secure, maybe that’s all it is.  We spotted a Great Horned Owl and it along with 3 others sang to use through the night.  We did hear coyotes a long ways away but for the most part, tonight was a night for the owls.   There is a fire grill smoker looking thing at each site and we built a fire in the firebox.  Supper was potatoes, sweet potatoes and sausage.  We ended the evening sipping Baileys Irish Creme, watching the sun set over the lake.  Beyond beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

It froze last night and was quite cool this morning when we ate breakfast and drank our coffee.

The air mattress leaked again, there is no doubt there is a leak in it.  Hopefully we can find it tonight.

Our driving route took us through Waco, Texas and we discovered Cameron Park.  It has over 20 miles of hiking trails and we enjoyed about 5 miles of them.  In addition, we had a wonderful picnic lunch.

 

 

Freecampsites.net is not infallable; our first choice was at Lake Witney which claimed to have several free areas available.  We discovered upon arrival that the park has open/closed hours, it also had an on site park host and very prominent No Camping signs posted.  To really use the freecampsites website, you have to do your homework as some of the sites are not listed right or out of date.  Rather than push our luck, we opted to head for Meridian State Park and pay a fee tonight.

We checked into Meridian State Park into site#30.  It is a primitive site and we had the entire side of the lake to ourselves.  It was wonderful.  We were greeted by a large hawk and it kept close eye on us the entire time we were there.  There are fire pits and we gathered up some cedar to make a beautiful fire.

 

 

What a fabulous night last night, coyotes were close and sang to us.  We finally found the hole in the thermarest, it is on the bottom.  While we were eating breakfast we got a message from friends in Colombia, seems we still had 4G network at the park.  They are also having thermarest issues.  We were planning a trip into Georgetown, TX to REI to buy repair stuff for our thermarest.  We also now needed to buy a replacement pad for them.   Morning coffee was awesome, we replaced our worn out filter with a new unit that will double as a funnel.  This collapsable piece is working better than we could have imagined.  In addition, our new coffee cups work like a charm.

We packed up and headed for the shower house, a perk with the pay campsite.  It felt so awesome to have a hot shower and be able to get scrubbed clean.  Now for the drive to REI.

New things are always coming out and while we were at REI we looked into the different pads.  We ended up buying 2 new pads for Curtis and I.  These weigh a fraction of what our big ones weigh and a lot smaller in size.  We are going to ditch the thermarests and go with the  REI Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad.

 

Our fourth and final night of camping was again a free site. Camp Creek Recreation Area near Smithwick, TX  https://www.lcra.org/parks/Pages/camp-creek.aspx
30.5639207,-98.1918536

We set up under a huge pecan tree and this was so beautiful.  Doves ate cracked pecans on the driveway, squirrels were busy storing up nuts for the upcoming winter.  We enjoyed a small box of wine on this last night of camping.  Our fire was made from old pecan limbs and burned hot.  After supper we curled up on our new pads and listened to the night sounds.  I love camping, the sounds and the fresh air, the peace and freedom it allows.

27

The campsite next to us was home to a 22 year old woman from Amsterdam.  She is a traveler, exploring the US before heading out to Panama around New Year’s.  Meet Silver, an extrodinary young traveler with a zest for life.  I love meeting these young people.  Travel and exploring the world is such an incredible learning experience.  All people should get out and travel, 3 months, 6 months, a year, however long.  It is sad to see so few American travelers.  I have heard these words, “It’s not proper”, “You need to be working”, “You can’t take the time off”, “It’s too dangerous”. HOGWASH and bullshit!

I embrace my new title of traveler.  I embrace the different cultures I get exposed to.  People are people no matter what part of the world and I only wish I had discovered the joys and excitement that traveling shows us.

Get off your couch, do something new, take a chance, LIVE!