Amy Bikes & Builds Coast to Coast

Bike & Build [North Carolina to San Diego 2009]

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Scavenger Hunt

Today's a van day for me; thus, despite the fast-approaching 9-o'clock hour, I sit in front of a computer at a McDonald's in Garden City, KS. After our usual 5 am wake up, I ran a few errands and am now using internet, a much rarer commodity these days. Although, Garden City is a much larger town than I would've expected.

Today, we head into a new state, taking rest at a church in Lamar, Colorado. Looking at a map, I cannot believe how far we've gotten, nor can I comprehend of how much time has passed. We've completed 5 weeks and I have no idea where the time's gone.

Since I don't have an iphone and do not update nearly as much as my friends, here are a few highlights:

Yesterday's 57-mile day that took 8+ hours due to a lengthy (and incredibly amazing) scavenger hunt -- I had a golf "date" with two gentleman at a golf course in Dodge City KS, involving multiple misses with a club and a golf ball and finally hitting (onto the fairway, I might add). I also might have gotten two kisses on the cheek scoring 10 points; don't tell Adam. :) However, this cannot compare to the Sloan Ranger's near makeout session with a lady in a cafe, garnering his team 20 points. We also made the most amazing human pyramid in front of a windmill with a self-timed camera, which came out pleasantly crooked and with tall grasses in the foreground (to be posted later). Reenacting the classing painting 'American Gothic' made up one of many spectacular Wal-Mart moments, along with honking a trucker's horn and taking a picture of us "getting the hell outta Dodge." We tried to cook an egg on the radiator of the van, but this failed due to the fact that everyone got to lunch (@ mile 35) well past 11, leaving the engine quite cool. One final highlight was finding a "cowboy" and dressing up in his boots, hat and belt. Danielle and I were definitely swallowed up in those boots, but they were amazing with their spurs. Greg got on the 11 o'clock news last night, here in Garden City, by the way. His (& Dylan's) PR skills are truly something special.

A few days prior, I rode with Steve and Nhan on their sweep day into Coldwater, KS. The views were phenomenal. Kansas is not nearly as flat as I had predicted, and although it poured down rain, at least we were not riding into 30 mph headwinds.

Thursday, we will be in Colorado Springs, CO, and I can't wait. After a build day and a day off there, we will ascend several thousand feet of elevation, to top out around 12,000. Then, a fiesta of riding will begin, with only 3 build days remaining (one in Durango, CO and two in Prescott, AZ) and no other days off. San Diego here we come!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day off in Memphis

Currently in Memphis, TN. After a raucous night of minor league baseball (Memphis Redbirds v. the Zephyrs), carousing down Beale St., dancing in bars and making friends with a huge bouncer named Larry, I awoke with a wicked headache to the sounds of people getting moving for breakfast at a local diner. Wearing the clothes from the night before, we headed out as a critical mass of Bike & Builders to said dining establishment. After breakfast, I returned to our host location to catch up on some much needed shut-eye. A few hours passed when I awoke to find out a group was headed to Graceland. Not one to pass up an excursion, I jumped in the van. However, my intentions were different. While Graceland was quite appealing, a small group including myself, the one and only 'Cookies' Parker, Timur & Drew hopped on a bus headed for downtown Memphis. We made our way to the National Civil Rights Museum, only to find out it is closed on Tuesdays. Disappointed but not deterred, we spent a while in front of the museum where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot. The Lorraine Motel remains, and there are also two vehicles in front to represent the cars he was to ride in that day. At the end of the block was a woman who had been protesting the museum for over 20 years (it's been open since 1991) because she viewed it as fiscally irresponsible. We meandered about the area a while, stopping in a coffee shop for beignets and iced lattes. Beignet is the French word for fried dough, and they are a staple in New Orleans. Next we headed to Sun studio on Union Ave., or the general birthplace of such rock & roll legends as Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Although we did not have time for a tour, I acquired a number of postcards and pictures. We ended the day with a stop at 'Cookies' aunt's home for dinner and a pool party. A-ma-zing. This is our 4th pool party of the trip.

New state (Arkansas) tomorrow!
Build day in Little Rock!
8 (?) days of riding in a row before a day off in Bartlesville OK.
Yay B&B!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Here are pictures from the start of the trip. We're now in Sweetwater, TN, over 2 weeks into the trip. Despite a calamitous first week (2 cases of pink eye, 2 bikes stolen, 1 staph infection, etc), things are finally beginning to calm down, and thank goodness for that. Bike & Build is becoming a way of life and that is both strange and wonderful. The day of the week has lost all importance, and time only matters when it comes to food and getting to the host location before dark. Our first two weeks also included some serious mileage, with a century on day 4. However, the past 3 days have been short (40 miles), with a build day in Maryville, TN, in between. Enjoy the pictures, ciao.

In Nags Head for leader orientation. In front of our host location. From L to R (all trip leaders): Gabe, me, Anna, Steve.

Trip leader shot at the wheel dip ceremony in Nags Head. (we dipped our wheels in the Atlantic and will dip them in the Pacific on July 18th). From L to R: me, Anna, Steve, Gabe.

First day of riding into Swan Quarter NC. Note the river in the background. It poured buckets every day of riding, except one, for the first seven ride days. From L to R: me & Neel.

Riding sweep & saving a box turtle from certain destruction. From L to R: Alex, me, Anna.

Obligatory hay bale picture. First day riding sweep. From top to bottom: me & Alex.

At Duke Chapel on Duke University's campus, on our way to Chapel Hill.

Build Day, Hillsborough. Pre-wall.

Build Day in Hillsborough, erecting walls, gettin it done. From L to R: Alex, Andy, Mike, Nhan, Kelly.

At our host in Chapel Hill, Chapel of the Cross. Right on Franklin St.

For Bill.

At the museum: "Thank you for smoking your Winstons outside." Anna in background.

At the Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Memorial, outside of Charlotte NC. Awesome stop. From L to R: Rebecca, Anna, me.

At the Eastern Continental Divide. From L to R: me, Timur, Sharif, Anna.

Amanda in deep thought at a waterfall off of our route from Gatlinburg TN to Maryville, TN.

Where we are staying tonight, at the Armory for the Army National Guard in Sweetwater, TN.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bins and watermelons

As I sit writing this blog entry, I am acutely aware of the whirlwind that is Bike & Build. I am in a room on the main floor of the church at which we're staying, surrounded by an explosion of clothing (wet & dry, clean-ish & very dirty), gear, tarps, incredible amounts of food (a crate of watermelons, a box of pita chips, tubs of frosting, cookies galore -- thanks mom & dad, and other odd assortments of goodies), coolers, sleeping accoutrements, shoes & other what-have-yous. Everyone has left for the night for we have a day off tomorrow, meaning no curfew. I chose to stay in, however, preferring the solitude of the space (yes, I am an only child), and knowing that I have a ton of B&B work to do tomorrow, the least of which involves re-packing my bin.

And here we get to my favorite item of the summer. Yes my bike is awesome, along with all of the assorted bike gear I have collected, but my current focus is my bin. 68L, green & heavy duty; it's what I am living out of for the rest of the summer, and I love it. Sure, it may be excessively heavy and compact, and it may also explode everytime I pull the straps off of it, but it is still very much worth the trouble. In 2007, I decided to move to northern California taking with me only items that would fit in my two-door Honda. Getting furniture and the like was a pain in the rear, but it was incredibly refreshing, literally and spiritually, to get rid of all of the crap in my life. Bike & Build, and the aforementioned bin, allow me to experience this on a small scale.

In other news, we are in Chapel Hill, and we had our first build day today. We completed and put up all of the outside walls and nearly all of the inside walls. It was incredible. I also learned how to take down scaffolding, at least the kind on one of their job sites. Finally, I got a short tour of the neighborhood in which the house we worked on is being built. It was actually in Hillsborough/Fairview, and by the end of this year, Habitat for Humanity of Orange County will have completed something like 30 houses in this one neighborhood. It was very evident how Habitat had turned the neighborhood around, and that was inspiring.

Tomorrow, I'm going to stop in at a coffee shop and work on some B&B stuff, including (hopefully) uploading some pictures. In the meantime, thanks to everyone for the support and for keeping up with my blog!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I'll be brief

I've been trying to post for several days now, but internet has been less than cooperative. I also wrote an entry, which is saved to another computer, and will be posted in the coming days.
For now, it's 7:30 am, our latest wake up yet, and we are getting ready to leave Wake Forest for Chapel Hill. It's a short day (40 miles), following an accidental century yesterday. I ate so much food yesterday, it's absolutely ridiculous. After today, we all will have ridden just shy of 300 miles since Sunday!

Unfortunately, I can't stay and chat. Riding to do, breakfast to eat!

Monday, May 11, 2009

To Nags Head Tomorrow!!

I leave tomorrow to become oriented to Bike & Build life in Nags Head, NC!! Given that the rain gods have been drenching us for the past few weeks, probably to make up for the droughts of the previous years, I foresee wet times ahead. I am excited nonetheless.

The party at the French Broad was awesome! Thanks to all who came to show their support. Also, a big thank you to the bands, Ian Thomas, and Cary Fridley & the Down South. The music was amazing and the show was a ton of fun!

My shoulder is healing nicely. I went on my first bike ride since the injury yesterday, and it wasn't terrible. It's a bit tight, but fully functioning. The road rash is healing well, although I did get an infection from failure to properly clean my wounds. I knew something was wrong when I was only getting bug bites on the left side of my body. There are no painkillers strong enough to make me want to scrub out fresh road rash, but next time I will be more likely to follow my dad's advice, "grab a stick from the yard, stick it between your teeth and scrub at it with a clean washcloth."

This past Saturday, I worked on a ramp build with Mountain Housing Opportunities here in Asheville. The weekend consisted of MHO's Annual Ramp Festival, where groups of people get together to build wheelchair accessible ramps for those in need. I joined a group headed up by one of the attorneys at the law firm I'd been interning at this semester, Roberts & Stevens. Made up of members of his ministry group, they were all incredibly nice, showing me how to use certain tools and being patient with me as I hammered the same nail 100 times. Needless to say, I am no expert builder. Our timing was perfect: as we were finishing packing up, the rain poured down once again. I went home soaking wet, tired, but feeling good.

Today will be spent getting last minute, important items such as chain lube and a rain jacket, and packing my life into a 68 liter plastic bin. Leaving tomorrow, I've got mixed emotions. I hate having to leave my man-friend for 2 months, but I am so freakin excited to bike 70 miles per day, every day, for 2 months.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

1st Bike WRECK. tango with road, love affair with helmet.

I had my first real bike wreck! Given how much it hurt to type that exclamation point, one would think I'd be less excited. While I'm not particularly happy about the resulting bodily damages, I do feel as though I'm a  legitimate cyclist now. Allow me to recap: 

Coming off of several weeks without riding, courtesy of my impending graduation from college, I chose to take it easy and do some short climbs around town. There's a road that comes up behind UNCA's campus to a really beautiful view, and before starting the very short, sloping descent, I stopped to adjust my saddle and return a call to my dad. I got back on my bike, shifted into a harder gear and went into the drops. Maybe .2 of a mile down the road, there is a turn in the road that is notorious for gravel. Sometimes it's better than others, depending on rain and traffic. I was feeling good, and I'd never had a problem there before, so I didn't think twice about it... until I started sliding. My front wheel started to go out to the right, and ahead of me, I saw a guard rail and a steep drop down into a mass of kudzu. So, what does any inexperienced bike-crasher do? I shifted all my weight to the left and fought against the fall. 

As far as I can tell, my left shoulder hit the ground first. Then my elbow, followed by my hip, thigh and shin, until *bonk* my head bounced off the ground like a rubber bouncey ball. All the while, I'm sliding from the middle of the road, where I've yanked my bike, to the far right side.

At no point was I unconscious. (God, I love my helmet!) I sat up, thinking about the pain from the road rash on my leg and then realized that it might just be a good idea to get out of the road. I stood up and sat on the side for a minute. Having been recently re-CPR-certified, I found it pertinent to ask myself if I knew who I was and where I was. Standing at very well-marked intersection, I thought that knowing my location was not a good indicator of the condition of my head, deciding instead that I needed to come up with another simple question to ask myself. But then, this was about as much focusing as I could manage, so I used my right arm to haul my bike out of the road. I began to question why my elbow hurt. Looking down, I noticed a lump where there really ought not to be one. It was about a half inch protrusion, a good half inch away from my elbow bone. This solidified my decision to call paramedics. 

In the interim, one guy in a red pickup stopped to see if I needed help. Grumpy, I told him I'd already called 9-1-1 and that I was fine. Then, another car stopped and a gentleman came out of the house I'd crashed in front of. They chatted for a minute, with me on the ground having the conflicting thoughts of "leave me alone, I'm fine," and "hellooo, I'm on the ground, need a little help here!" The guy in the truck drove off, with the woman in the car, to whom I later introduced myself (her name was Judy), getting me a bag of frozen vegetables. She tried to put them on my shoulder and I shook them off from the pain. Courtesy of overwhelming adrenaline, and the massive lump in my elbow, I didn't notice this at the time. The paramedics arrived shortly thereafter, fussing over my shoulder. My concern, was of course, the elbow. I felt safer with them there and by this point, my road rash was the least worrisome, so I experienced minimal pain. I cheered up, and, as I do in most times of personal crisis, I started joking with everyone there. "now that I've got road rash, I'm a legit biker." In any case, my shoulder showed no signs of bruising or punctures, so I declined ambulatory care and called a very reliable friend, Pat, to come get me. I would've called my man-friend, Adam, (boyfriend just seems so cliche), but he was on a group ride and I knew he didn't have his phone. 

In the car ride home, my shoulder was aching something awful. Lifting it up made this horrible clicking sound, with accompanying pain. I decided to end my blissful bike evening at urgent care. But, not before taking pictures of my road rash for my blog. :) In the end, I suffered only road rash and a separated shoulder. No broken bones, no head trauma. The doc said it could be anywhere from 72 hours to 6 weeks before the pain was gone. 

The structural integrity of my body was intact, though the same cannot be said of my helmet. Enjoy the pics!