The Trip 2005

Official blog for a bicycling event conceived to help find a cure for Parkinson's disease

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Wrap

For those of you who pledged, here are some helpful instructions for making your donation:

Mail A Check

Payable to "Michael J. Fox Foundation"

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
20 Exchange Place, 32nd Floor
New York, New York 10005

Be sure you include either on your check or in a note the address where you'd like the tax letter mailed. This donation is 100% tax deductible.

Donate Online

There is a "DONATE" button on the main page, near the top right-hand side. Be sure in additional comments to specify ATTN: AMANDA MCDORMAN/THE TRIP 2005.

And now, the Wrap-Up post...

After being off the bike for a week now, it's difficult to fathom that the trip actually went off without a hitch. Evidently I saved every last ounce of energy I had to fall apart while relaxing.

Last Tuesday was my first day back at work after almost two weeks off, and it was a big day. An Inbox so crowded that Halloween was scared. Flu shot day, and I happened to be in the right place at the right time to be first in line. The nurse even found a red spot in my tattoo to stick the needle. "This is going to be a good day," I remember thinking. That same morning I also began taking the new dosage of blood pressure medication, which happened to be double the previous dosage. I was feeling pretty healthy.

The day turned out to be so busy and full of commotion that I forgot to eat lunch, which I've done before, I just make it up at dinner. After work I made my way up to the bar for a couple beers with some of the folks who supported me so much throughout the planning and actual undertaking of The Trip. I thought I was pacing myself, after all, it's not like I'm 21 and having my first beer.

It is a truly bizarre feeling to be sitting up, lucid and knowing what is going on around oneself, then seeing the room fade to white, then black, thinking to oneself, ""

My eyes opened to lots of downward-pointing nose-holes, with the ceiling as a backdrop. "Hmm, something happened. Somehwere I lost track of time (and lots of other faculties)." I was out for anywhere from 45 seconds to 5 minutes, depending on who you asked and their degree of panic. The paramedics questioned me on history (when were you born?), civics (who is the current President of the United States?) and language (they asked me in English). Was I becoming a U.S. Citizen again? I thought I did that when I emerged from the womb?

After the curtain was lifted, I felt like a hundred bucks. Aside from feeling a little woozy for a couple of days, I was fine. The doc confirmed all of this and I'll be going in soon for some blood work.

I guess it goes to show you that one can be prepared for a massive test of one's own endurance, but often times nature sneaks up from behind and unloads a sucker punch. This one was a doozy, and no longer will I think of myself as invincible. Not that I did, but I certainly did not see any of a wide range of natural disasters, no matter how small, heading my way and clobbering me with the brute force it did.

All in all, 100% worth the effort and energy put into planning and achieving this end. Thank you all for your support throughout, and for your contribution to the cause. I will see you for the next trip in 2006!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Day last: Home again

After thirteen hours on the road yesterday, home at last. Just a little post to let everyone know I'm home. I will pen an epilogue after waking up, dusting the SNOW OFF MY CAR and re-acclimating to life at altitude.

Stay tuned :-)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Trip 2005: Another pledge

Almost forgot - Bill Martin, this one's for you. A picture of me wearing a Dallas Cowboys hat, tags still attached. I'm a Niners fan for those of you who do not know the 'football' me. This picture was taken outside of Childress, Texas. I couldn't get a banner, Bill, but hope the hat will suffice to secure your pledge. You get the hat when I return. That is all.

The Trip 2005: Pills

One thing I've never been able to do until this trip is swallow pills without first chewing them. To be sure I was at peak efficiency (as much as I could be), I took several vitamins and my blood pressure medication. Mashing these into a vile powder was time-consuming and just tasted like evil. After a few practices with harmless vitamins, I finally figured out how to get those bad boys into my system.

I don't know why it was as kids we don't chew our food enough (to our parents' satisfaction), we wolf down a meal so we can get back outside and play, but we cannot swallow a teeny, tiny pill whole when we're adults. Maybe if we had something to do afterward, like go out and play, it would be easier.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Day 7: Safe, Sound, Successful

Day seven began like day six ended - with an ever-persistent southerly wind. Now, I never understood when weatherfolk forecast the weather and claim "a southerly wind will grace the plains tomorrow" exactly what it is they mean. Will wind be blowing FROM the south, or is it blowing TOWARD the south?

I now know the answer, and I don't like it.

Wind was blowing from the south again at about 15-18 mph, and sucked my waning energy away like getting a flat rear tire halfway between work and home with no spare tube. Hey, that sounds like a hoot.

For sanity's sake, the road outside of Decatur becomes somewhat 'iffy' as 287 turns into 380, and to top it off, there was some sort of unannounced construction being performed. U.S. 380 connects Decatur to Denton, about 28 miles away. I thought perhaps we'd get to Denton and I'd take 380 to 289, which is Preston Road, the Academy Boulevard (Colorado Springs) of Plano, Texas.

There are two things that the towns in north-central Texas do not believe in. Bike lanes/shoulders and self-serve car washes. The road to Plano went through Denton and on toward McKinney, which is out east. It was the only route I could find on a good map to get to Plano without trying not to be noticed riding illegally on I-35 E. So the final leg of the trip was short, windy and a little anti-climactic because of the need to pack the bike in the trunk through impassable terrain, construction and lack-o-shoulder.

The Bonneville (chase vehicle, carrier of the crew chief, a.k.a. Mom) still had some strain of atomic alien mud caked in the wheelwells from back on day one on the road between Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Colo. This stuff could hold tiles on the space shuttle it was so gooey. I've been to Plano many, many times and have had no luck in locating one of those (come on people, you know what I'm talking about) drive your car in, spray it, brush it, drive it out and dry it places. They do not exist in this reality. After asking the guy behind the counter at tonight's hotel of such a place, he sort of lifted an eyebrow and looked at me like I had just asked him to rob the IHOP next door armed with only a 2-quart Pyrex dish.

After a trip to the local full-serve car wash (just called 'car wash' here), most bug guts had been washed away, the outside was shiny and new, but the atomic alien mud still clung to the wheelwells as if for dear life. Right next door lies a Wal-Mart, and they sell lots of buckets and brushes and other stuff I probably didn't need but they looked neat and useful, so I bought them. An 18-pack of washcloths? Suuuure! A three-pack of Orbit gum? You bet! I'm that age now where kids ask me, "Hey mister, you got any gum?" I tell 'em to scram or I'll tell their mother they were letting the air out of tires in the parking lot.

Cleaned the bike tonight, sat in the hot tub here at the hotel and unwound after what has been a week (doesn't seem like it!). I'm so glad my mom was here to experience this with me. She knows me so well and knew when to be where at what time without even having to coordinate ahead of time. The trip would not have been remotely possible without her, and to think there was a chance I was going to go alone and camp along the way. Nothing against my camping or survival skills, but I've learned enough on this journey without having to worry about dispatching a bear or finding a safe place to sleep. Thank you mom, for keeping me honest without nagging or being overbearing. You were just right :-)


  • Back to back 70-mile days.
  • Learned my physical limits.
  • Will see my kids.
  • Raised money and awareness for Parkinson's Disease Research.
  • Spent lots of quality time with mom.
  • Made me closer to my family and friends.
  • Lost some weight.
  • Achieved a world-class farmer's tan.
  • Did not experience one flat tire.
  • Finally came to terms with my thinning hairline. Rebel Yell, baby.
  • Sang the entire Sinatra songbook in my head, The Coffee Song out loud while riding.
  • Earned points for staying in hotels owned by a new sponsor for work.
  • Learned how to launder clothes in a bathtub (wear them in layers, get wet, do calisthenics).
...and last of all but not least...

  • Earned the right to loaf my butt off this winter. I won't, but it feels good to be able to relax after so many months of planning.
I'm looking forward to seeing everyone when I get home. Thanks again for all of your support and even if you doubted me (which you should have - 750 miles in 8 days), thanks for still pushing me to go and to do my best.

PS from Mom....that's what Mom's are for ...and I am a very lucky one that my kids trust me enough to invite me along even at the risk of being told "I told you so" (750 miles in 8 days????....) but I have learned the most important thing is to be there, say little and do whatever it takes to support success . It has been an awesome trip! Thank you Todd!


Monday, October 03, 2005

Day 6: One of those days (in the life)

Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head. Made my way downstairs and drank a cup, and looking up, I noticed I was up awfully early. Found my coat and grabbed my hat, walked across the street to find Sonic CLOSED.

As Gedde Watanabe saith in Sixteen Candles, "The Donger need FOOD!"

Settling for Holiday Inn Express' version of breakfast, I ate as much as I could before settling in for the day. It was just one of those days where not so much one big, bad thing happened, but lots of little, annoying things happened, not the least of which was in the middle of tonight's post, encountering the Big Bad Blue Screen of Death, brought to you by Microsoft. Physical memory dump.

Without going into excessive detail as to what went wrong, let's focus on what went right.

Since I am not going to make my initial estimate of the entire trip on two wheels (750 miles), I have accepted that the mileage I do finish with will raise money for a good cause, and that will be ok. While this could be seen as a failure, I choose to see it as a learning experience. When all is said and done, if all legs of the journey were to be laid end to end, I will have travelled past Amarillo from Colorado Springs, and that's an achievement. Mom says it is a success for her that I have not tried to kill myself by sticking to the original flight plan as it may've placed me in great peril. It is also true that the prominent purpose for me coming down here is to see my kids, and I will be doing that as well. Another good thing. It is good exercise, chalk up another positive, and seeing Mom is always good. Hey, one more thing is that many people will receive post cards from me, and that's always fun, isn't it? Controlling the grasshopper population by rolling over them from time to time is a useful public service, and quality time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life helps clean out the attic and reset the body for winter.

With that many good things going on, it makes lack of breakfast burrito and headwinds seem insignificant, although headwinds still stink to high heaven (see sour milk-drinking/battery-licking reference in Day 5 post). Geez, I could write a thesis on headwinds and compare them to all things sucky for eternity. Nothing gets under my skin like a good headwind and the occasional mosquito, but mosquitoes you can squash or chase away. Headwinds persist and wear you down from the outside in. You get my drift...

Anyhoo, Wichita Falls tonight. It seems every third day is the one that just gets me down. Two solid days followed by a day of mental and physical exhaustion. Only 21 miles today (did I mention the ferocious headwind?), but tomorrow represents the beginning of the end of the pilgrimage. One might think that the physical demands far outweigh the mental, but I am here to tell you that as fun as riding a bicycle is for me, with no outside stimuli aside from grasshopper target practice and the sound of the grasshopper orchestra in the trees, there's not much else to occupy oneself with. Perhaps tomorrow will be Count Out of State License Plate Day, who knows. Lesson learned in the keeping focused portion of the trip. It's harder than I thought it would be.

Today's PS from the Driver/Mom/Chief - the driving is routine - watching the landscape and keeping a look out for road/shoulder hazards, stopping often enough to read part of the paper or a chapter in my book - I am enjoying the pace. While the Rider expresses frustration from time to time the clock says he is making consistent good time - physically it looks effortless (easy for me to say) but as he says - mentally it is a challenge. From a Mom's vantage point it is rewarding to be an ovserver as he figures it out. Tonights accomodations are great and tomorrow will be another and even better day. Night all...


Sunday, October 02, 2005

Day 5: Wind, thanks, and bad dreams

At the halfway point of The Trip (Amarillo), some things were certain. Texas is big. Texas is flat. Texas is hot.

Woke up at 5:45 a.m. to fill the gas tank next door at Denny's. I was helped by an unusually tall woman named Diane, who was also unusually nice. After perusing the menu, I ended up with The Heartland Scramble, which should be renamed The 'I Need A Nap After Eating This' Scramble. Reported back to the hotel room and was alseep before my head hit the pillow. Mom was more sensible and slept through the big breakfast excursion.

Thank God I like the hot. After a sunburn on my arms made it necessary to purchase more powerful (and unexpired) sunscreen, the heat was even more bearable. Taking off from just outside of Amarillo (limited-access highways through larger towns made it necessary), the wind was present from the first revolution of the wheels. Man, wind again. I'd rather be chased by Trojans shooting arrows at my heels.

Luckily, although the wind was gusting at what honestly felt like 20-25 mph, it was crossing me directly from the right. Anything is better than a headwind, even drinking sour milk or licking a 9-volt battery. The first 30 miles went as smoothly as they could - the road was mostly flat, but after mile 40 it became apparent that Mother Nature was once again not willing to cooperate with my plan. The wind shifted, average speed went down, and legs tired noticeably quicker.

After a little rest and picking up a few miles in the chase vehicle, I got back out to crank out some more miles, but quickly remembered what a headwind does to one's resolve - it is demoralizing, almost like pedaling backwards.

So, 56 miles today. I have realized that my wild boast of 100 miles, seven days straight was extremely disproportionate to my ability, even though I've been training. Sure, I'm 40, but I'm not sure I could do it at 20 (although I'm in better shape right now ;-)

I want to thank all of the truckers who have passed me from the beginning. For the courtesy of moving over a lane when you can afford it, for driving in the lane closest to me and giving me an artificial tailwind, and for honking in support of my two-wheeled endeavor. The more I think about it, riding on U.S. 287 is safer the more trucks there are as truckers are a courteous breed, they know how to drive big rigs, and they rarely, if ever, fall asleep at the wheel. I have been checking every 300-500 yards just to be sure no one's creeping up in the grasshopper lane (see previous post for grasshopper reference).

Tonight we're staying in Childress, a town which used to hold a special meaning for me, and I guess still retains some residual specialness. This was a rude awakening, ironically, because I was asleep. I had three dreams last night, none of which ended well, and were so...random that they kept a perfect night's sleep from happening. One of them involved Childress - eerily foreshadowing tonight's accomodations.

From here on out it will be difficult to forecast a destination each day as time is running short (must plan for a Wednesday arrival in The Big D), and there is a lack of towns with hotels between here and Denton. Each day will be a ride until I drop scenario, then a drive to the closest hotel. The bike is purring along, and the body feels good, just tired.

PS from the Pickup Crew Chief....Interesting to experience five days in a row of the same activity and to be aware of the differences of each day. We've got the what-to-eat-when routine under control and the average miles per hour a pretty consistent, miles between check points are comfortable and appears the mental preparation makes the most was another good day...


Saturday, October 01, 2005

Day 4: Hot, hotter and hopping stuff

Amarillo By Mornin'? No. That song always reminds me of a long-lost friend. Matt McCue would sing it at karaoke, and although I'm not a big country music fan and didn't know the original artist, I could tell he was covering it well.

Anyway, Amarillo. The temperature was 86º today, but it could have been 106º for all I cared - the hotter the better. Compared to day 1 when temps never rose above 55º. The traffic from Dumas to Amarillo was laden with trucks, and most honks, if not all of them, were supportive. The cool thing about trucks is the artificial tailwind created when they blow by at 70+ mph. Sweet.

Something else I've noticed about a trip like this is how a year ago, 30 miles round trip, broken up into two 15 mile increments seemed like a colossal achievement, especially the two miles at the end of the jaunt home - all uphill, and usually into a headwind. When attacking a journey of this length, hills don't seem to bother one as much. I know, I know wiseguys, sure, over 750 land miles the altitude goes from 6,500 feet to sea level (roughly), but it's not like the route was built on a steep and consistent decline over that span. It ain't all downhill, folks. Come on Jim Old, back me up on this.

Funny thing, grasshoppers. They sit on the side of the road, in MY lane, hugging the warm pavement until traffic approaches (namely me). They then decide that the only suitable escape route is a leap up and directly into my crotch. What th'? Like dead skunks, squirrels and other various and sundry mamalia are not enough to dodge, now I must contend with the equivalent of a shooting gallery, and aimed at a place intended only to be treated nicely. Not a big fan of the insects.

Energy was up today as yesterday's epiphany regarding nutrition and "dangit, why am I so tired?" opened my eyes. This morning began with an early wake up call to dine at the only breakfast joint in Dumas - a truck stop named Albert's. The service was excellent, the food great (three eggs over medium, sausage, hash browns and toast) and the price was right. After an hour and a half supplementary nap, we were up and out by 10:30 am.

Today's leg of the ride also afforded more photo-ops. Here's a picture of the road (Highway 287, ab out 30 miles outside of Dumas). This is to show you how desolate this stretch of road can be, and to show Junior that I still know how to cross a highway without getting hit by oncoming traffic.

This next one is for Cleo. She makes me laugh every single solitary time I see her, and this is one of those phrases that just kills me.

PS from the Crew Chief - amazing the benefits of a steak dinner and a good nights sleep - what more does a Rider need? (well, I'll let let you talk to Todd about that......) Anyway, he was "ready to ride" and again made it look effortless as he zoomed past the check points with both thumbs up. The Driver had time for a few update phone calls to "support staff" back home and writing in a journal - the old fashioned way.

Amarillo is, well... Amarillo... so a Texas sized steak seemed the obvious choice for dinner. We watched a restaurant patron do his best to eat a 72 oz steak + baked potato, salad, shrimp cocktail and a dinner roll within an hour - the deal being if he was successful it was free. He made it through all but the baked potato...he had to pay...and no one even clapped. I guess that's Texas for ya!