|A Guitar Ted Productions series|
This tour was dubbed the "Race Against Death Tour" and today I will start reproducing the tale as it was posted here in 2009. I also will add new remarks and memories where appropriate at the end of each post.
Once again, there were no cell phones, internet, social media platforms, or digital cameras. I will post images where I can, but this tour wasn't well documented in images, so there probably will be very few sprinkled throughout. A modern image will be used only where it depicts things I want to clarify, like where we were in that part of the tour via a map image, or the like.
Beginnings and endings. It is what life seems to be all about. Changes can be good and almost always tough to deal with. That's what this story is all about. I called it "The Race Against Death Tour" back then for a few reasons. First- we were going to make it this time- do or die. That was pretty much Troy's take on this ride. We didn't make it to Canada the year before on the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour", and Troy wasn't about to have that happen this time. I thought "Race Against Death" was good from a humorous standpoint, but in reality, I was trying to out run my own demons that were hounding me from the recent past. It was a funny name on the outside, but on the inside of me, it was a "deadly" serious moniker.
Well, Troy thought we should have a third party. I thought so too. So I kept harassing Ryan to go with us. He didn't have a touring bike, and he couldn't afford to buy one either, being a poor "just-out-of-college-student". So, I told him that if I found him a bike, would he go? He said that he had some gear, but no tent. I said that I had a six man Eureka dome tent and we all could sleep in that. Well, it went back and forth like that until I basically brow beat him into coming with us. Oh, he was wanting it too, but I was pretty insistent that he go.
So, now I had to find him a bike. Great! Well, as fortune would have it, a fellow came in that needed to get a new bike. He was interested in a Bianchi we had. After talking to him a bit, he asked about trade in policies. I asked if he had his bike with him, and he did. Well, around the corner he wheels in a Schwinn Voyager. "Perfect!", I thought to myself. I went into big time salesman mode, made the deal, and had the Schwinn squirreled away before anybody else knew it was there. It was cheap enough that by that evening, Ryan had actually bought the thing.
So, parts swaps were made on all of our rigs while in the meantime we were thinking of a specific route. Troy had in mind two things: One was getting to his folks summer residence in Colorado which was on the other side of the Rocky Mountain National Park in Winter Park. The other was to see the Black Hills. Well, that made for some interesting route finding, but I was left to that on my own.
So I bought some road maps of Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado. I spent many nights pouring over roads, campground sites, rest areas, towns and villages, and roads of course. It was coming together. Soon we would be making some final preparations, setting a time to go, and setting off to the West.
If you haven't read the previous entry to this, this post may make more sense if you do go back and cover that information. You can click HERE
I mention Ryan in that post and he was to become a really good friend for a few years. This story will help make that point clearer. The bicycle I arranged for him to buy actually came back to me directly after this tour because, well, that was how Ryan was. All-in and then All-out. But this will be covered later as well.....
The mapping and planning of the route would be totally different than the previous tour, which was basically done by the seat of our pants. Navigation was determined on the fly, but for this tour we had predetermined routes and targeted overnights for us to shoot for. This was, in essence, where I got the bug to map out things like Trans Iowa in the future, so this was a seminal moment in my history. Also, at the time, it allowed me to dive headlong into an activity which took my mind off what I was going through at the time. (Again- read that hyperlinked post if you haven't already.)
Another thing that was different was that by this point I had become far more proficient in road riding techniques and was in better shape than the year before. Going into this tour I felt a lot more confident in my abilities. While the distance and going into the mountains was scary and challenging, I was up for it. Troy was simply beside himself with energy for this trip. It would become a trip I would never forget.
Next: The "Race Against Death Tour" preparations and personnel changes!