Thursday, July 1, 2010

Today I am a man

Day 10. Mountain Home to Twin Falls Idaho.

Happy Canada Day!

Today I am a man. I know that I was Bar Mitzvahed close to 40 years ago, and in the Jewish faith, that is the day that you become a man in the eyes of the Jewish people. But today, I became a man in the eyes of all cyclists – I changed a flat tire all by myself.

Before we get to that, I do have to respond to a number of my readers who question whether my wife actually is a Kim Basinger look-alike. Well, it is true. She is Kim Basinger's spitting image. Here is a recent photo of my wife The Duchess, and nobody can tell me she doesn't look exactly like Kim Basinger. Seriously. It's as if my wife had a picture of herself available on Google images that looked just like Kim. The likeness is a little scary, don't you think?

Anyway, on to today's events. Actually, before we get to today's events, I should mention that yesterday our tour leader Mike Munk held a tire changing clinic for the riders in the group who wanted to learn how to do this better (or in my case, learn how to do this at all). Mike has been timed at 48 seconds to change a flat. I know this is completely boring to non-cyclists, but when you are in a ride like this, a flat is no laughing matter. It can be dangerous by the side of the road at worst and can ruin your day at best. So, you better know how to do it. After the clinic there was a "practice session" for us neophytes. I attended with Margot Weinstein and we both changed flats twice each. Little did I know how handy this would come in.

We started the day with a 5AM wake up call followed by breakfast at 5:30AM. After loading the truck and some last minute repairs to Wonderboy's new brain, we were on the road at 6:20AM. Today's ride was 160kms of gentle downhill and uphill climbing across mostly farmland. We did have an incredible view of the Snake River Valley at a number of points today as these pictures attest. We rode today in serious heat but we drank a lot and we're just fine. In fact, at one of the breaks today I downed a big chocolate milk to help me with my post-workout recovery. We got to the hotel and before we unloaded the truck, we immediately went to Dairy Queen (stat!) for the ceremonial post-ride Blizzard. Mmmmmm. Here's the key calorie count to date:

Flat tires – 3
Blizzards – 3
Snickers bars – 2
milk shakes – 2

When we got to Twin Falls today we crossed the Snake River Canyon. Not only is this visually impressive, it also happens to be the place where Evel Knievel tried to cross via rocket some time ago. He must have been scared shitless when they lit the fuse, because that is one wide and deep canyon (apparently he pushed the abort switch seconds after lift-off which does not surprise me at all). Just riding a bike across a perfectly safe bridge hundreds of feet above the canyon floor was scary. Anyway, as you can see it is quite beautiful. Here's video:

One thing I haven't commented much on is the tour staff. America by Bicycle (ABB) has 6 people on the staff. I know a lot of you think I'm taking myself across country on my bike, but that's hardly the truth. First, as you all know, I have lots of people to thank in Toronto who helped me prepare for this ride, supported me, trained me, and encouraged (goaded) me. There are lots of people looking after things for me while I'm away and you know who you are. Thanks.

There are also my fellow riders who keep me company, ride with me, break the wind with me (in more ways than one), cheer me on, and just hang out with me at meals.

But the real unsung heroes of this trip are the ABB staff of tour leader Mike, his wife Barbara (part master military logistics manager, part den mother), Karen/Jeff/Debbie (routing, SAGs, and overall support), and Jim (bike mechanic par excellence). Everything is so well organized. They are unflaggingly cheerful, helpful, and caring. This ride wouldn't be worth doing without people like them with us. Thank you so much for making this the special trip I always dreamed it could be.

Now on to today's mail:

Karen from Toronto writes: "I love the name Wonderboy for your bike. You're a cyclist, but I'm a runner. I want to name my sneakers. What should I call them?" How about Sonny and Cher?

Wayne from Toronto writes: "I think you should have a nickname. How about Cyclepath for you?" Sorry Wayne, my wife already has nicknamed me. My nickname is "him".

Pat from Toronto writes: "I love the movie The Natural and I also admire your perseverance." By perseverance, do you mean the way I constantly annoy you in the office?

Useful links for you:

SO COOL: CHECK OUT MY STATS FROM MY NEW GARMIN!!!!!! When you go to this page, go to the player button on the upper right hand side of the page and hit it and then hit the play button just above the elevation chart; this will allow you to track through the various aspects of my ride simultaneously (just make sure to make the Google map window small enough that you can watch the elevation chart, map, and other data bars at the bottom all at the same time). Too cool for words:

This is Joe's blog:

Trip journal and photos by our tour leader Mike Munk:

This link is Jeff's blog:

This link is Baltimore Mark's blog:

And this is Katie's blog:


  1. Hi Mark,
    Thank you for your support for my upcoming marathon. As I read your blog, I am starting to get excited about mine, and hope that I will have the courage and strength of character to be as successful as you.

  2. Mazel tov, Mark. Today it was "boise to man" Maybe your next blog will be a song!! Team Golbarth is rooting you on. All the best.

    Alan & Jo-Ann