In summer of 2006 at the Tour de France I was sitting with several Trek Dealers and Trek Travel guests and we were all commenting on how each of us has always wanted to ride across the USA. Each of us said it would need to be around a month long and no one wanted to camp on their crossing. This conversation was the start of the Trek Travel Cross Country trip. It has been a major undertaking to research, plan, route and execute our inaugural trip.
I was lucky enough to be in Charleston for the finale of the Cross Country trip where I greeted 21 dedicated riders as they crossed the finish line and were welcomed by friends and family. After 34 days the Atlantic Ocean was a welcome sight. Everyone headed straight to the water, some dipped their toes others their bike tires. It was one of my proudest moments at Trek Travel. To see all the smiling faces and witness the accomplishment of these amazing people. It is something many people dream of doing but only a few are able to achieve. They have all now joined an elite group of cyclists and should be extremely proud of what they just accomplished. I personally would like to congratulate each and every one of the riders for riding 3200+ miles, in 34 days across the United States of America. It is truly a spectacular feat!
I also would like to thank the guides and massage therapists for their fabulous energy, enthusiasm and never ending support. They went above and beyond to ensure that each rider was taken care of and made it to Charleston safely!
I guess it is my turn!
Tania Worgull, President Trek Travel
Well after 2 days of rain, today we had a beautiful sunny day. It day started with patchy fog as we dropped into river valleys and then climbed back out into the clear. We continued on with renewed vigor just in time to get chased by lots of dogs! We also have realized that the armadillo apparently doesn’t stand a chance on the roads of southern Missouri judging by the amount of them “sleeping” on the shoulder.
There certainly has been some tough, rolling hills through the Ozark plateau and mountains, but we finished the day with a great dinner at Café 37, a funky bisto with great food that feels slightly out of place in rural Missouri.
Nate Lohmeier, TT Guide
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Day 13 Pagosa Springs, CO to Taos, New Mexico 141.5 miles
I’m not superstitious, but day number 13 lived up to its reputation as an unlucky day for most of us. Today was to be the longest and toughest day of the trip with expected riding times of 10 hours or longer depending on the weather. We were to pass into New Mexico and go over the continental divide. 60 miles into the ride was a 3000 foot climb over a mountain pass 10,500 feet high. After that, it was all down hill. Simply said but that was not how it occurred.
We all had a great breakfast at Victoria’s Parlor in Pagosa Springs, Colorado in the very early hours of the morning in order to get an early start on the ride. The weather was expected to get nasty in the afternoon and we wanted to get over the big pass before the weather got cold and rainy. By noon, we had our lunch at Chama, New Mexico and visited the Tourist Information Center at mile 46. They had an up to date weather forecast of a large front moving our way toward Taos. Our only chance of finishing today was to beat the front to Taos.
The ride up to the base of the mountain was not all that difficult and the weather looked surprising pleasant. However, after the ascent started, the wind picked up and so did the cloud cover. The farther we went up the hill, the colder, and windier it got. By the time we crested the pass, we knew we were in trouble. A mixture of bad weather, including high winds, rain, sleet, and a long painful climb forced most of the gang into the van for safety reasons. The majority of the van riders could have made it to Taos if it hadn’t been for the bad weather. Luck was not with them that day. Only few riders made it into Taos for the complete 141.5 mile ride braving the cold, rain, sleet, hail, wind, thin air, and long mountain climb. At one point some 30 miles away from Taos we got held up from the rain in Tres Piedras. We had a spectacular view of the valley into Taos and could watch the storm move over the city. And as the weather cleared from the Rio Grande Gorge, spectacular rainbows with the most brilliant colors stood out from the black ominous background. It was an awesome sight.
Tomorrow is a rest day and very well needed. The last three days have been in the mountains and wore us all down. That will give us time to lick our wounds and get ready for another 2 weeks of riding before our next rest day in Nashville, Tennessee.
-Perry Wilbur, XC Rider
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Seligman, AZ to Grand Canyon, AZ 104.5 miles
Today’s ride started with a temperature of 37 degrees as we left the hotel for Lilo’s Westside Café in Seligman for breakfast. Everyone looked like they had everything on that they brought for the trip. Long underwear, shoe covers, leg warmers, long sleeved jerseys, cycling jackets, ear warmers and helmet covers were among the necessities keeping Jack Frost away. Of course there is always that one person who has to be different. Steve from Canada shows up with his regular warm weather attire and his rain jacket as his only means of warmth. He never complained once!
Today’s ride leaves the barren, open and desolate geography to a more interesting picturesque landscape. We rode up in altitude over 6000 feet and for once noticed real pine trees and forests on the way to the Grand Canyon. We ate lunch at Kaibab Lake Park which was beautiful little lake off the highway. Here we had access to shade under the tall pines but today everyone wanted to be in the sun to keep warm. Our tour guides made sure we had a great lunch, as they do everyday, and off to the Grand Canyon we went.
We entered the Park with the usually fanfare of pictures of the park entrance sign. The group totally forgot about checking in their rooms because of the spectacular views from the hotel lawns . The view was more than impressive then any picture could replicate. Everyone had their cameras out taking pictures of each other and with their fellow cyclists until every possible permutation was tried. That may not seem all that exciting but we were competing for space with the scores of bus loads of people that passed us along the way up to the south rim.
Today’s ride was great but the end of the ride made it all worth while. What a great reward!
Here they are, the cross country crew for our inaugural trip. Wish them well, they have a ways to go yet!
(Click for larger image.)
(Click for larger image.)
Twentynine Palms, California to Parker City, Arizona. 112.3 miles.
Today’s ride was a long day winding our way through the Sheep Hole Mountains in the southern part of the Mojave Desert. The most notable highlight of the ride was the sign on the outskirts of Twentynine Palms which said, “No services next 100 miles.” That may have been intimidating but all 21 riders continued on confident they would make it.
Not known for their benevolence, the Mojave Desert “gods” smiled on us. We enjoyed an unusual cold front which held peak temperatures to the high 70s – low 80s, as opposed to the usual 100s. That, plus a light tail wind and a route that descended more than climbed, put us all on the fast track to cross this barren stretch of the US.
With most of us formed into pace lines of various sizes, we cruised toward Arizona at speeds faster than we expected. Traffic was light and, fortunately, no incidents marred our steady progress – with one brief exception. 7 riders were about 20 miles out of Twentynine Palms, in the middle of nowhere, cruising at a comfortable 20 miles an hour when all of the sudden out of the scrub brush leaped an incredibly huge, black, wolf-like dog that seemed to be 4 feet tall and wanted to eat every last one of us. Man, you should have seen the pace line bow out into the roadway! With a solid jolt of adrenaline, we quickly left that canine monster behind us.
As we approached Arizona, our first state crossing was marked by – of all things – rain sprinkles. Not enough to even moisten the road, it was yet another pleasant surprise on a day that we had approached with some trepidation, but wound up calling one of the most enjoyable rides we have ever made.
-Perry Wilbur & Jim Cox, XC Riders
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Before the sun was up today the wind was whipping! As any seasoned cyclist knows, it can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It was hard to tell from the hotel which way things were blowing. The first half mile out didn’t bode well either as we struggled to go 9 mph without getting blow off the road. Then…..we turned! And oh, what a beautiful turn it was! For most of the morning before our feed zone, we had a pretty nice tailwind. The scenery was amazing as we wound our way out of Victorville and into the Mojave Desert. Some smoke was still lingering in the valley from some of the late forest fires they’ve had up in the mountains in that area, and we passed by a camped out group of fire fighters. After a great lunch by our mechanic Matt, we took off heading south, and unfortunately into the wind. It only lasted 15 miles or so until we turned East again and turned the afterburners on for the last 20 miles into 29 Palms. We stayed at our own “private oasis” at The 29 Palms Inn, enjoyed a great meal, and they had a small band playing by the pool. A few of us grabbed a drink and relaxed, chatting about the previous days’ rides and looked forward to the days to come. We fell asleep to a sky full of stars and coyotes howling, though only 250 miles away, it felt like we were a long ways from Santa Barbara.
-Nate Lohmeir, TT Guide