May 31: In Stow at Judy’s for my rehab.

May 30: Pretty good night’s sleep Sunday night into Monday, and when I say pretty good, that means that I actually GOT some sleep what with all the sleep deprivation items I’ve been dealing with. So I was up early to work on the computer and then have some brekkie. Been gradually backing off on the pain pills, trying to just take 2 in the morning and 2 at night, so that was the strategy again. My biggest issue over the last day, and pardon me for getting even mildly graphic, is my bowels (yup, today’s discussion is about pooping). See, taking those pain meds, which are narcotics, they tend to really bind you up. And I’d noticed over the last week that things were becoming tougher and tougher downstairs. Make sense? Got to the point to where I was feeling like I was trying to pass a cannonball out my backside! I mean I was just starting to stress about my visits to the bathroom. Not good.

Well, I’ve been on these freaking stool softeners all along to counteract the narcotic effect on the bowels. Now NEVER did I ever see myself on what I consider “old peoples” meds, specifically stool softeners. My pop’s been on the things for years, for the very same reason - the pain meds. I just always had these judgmental opinions that taking meds of this nature was an indication of being old and feeble. Yet there I was noticing that over the course of a week my bathroom issues were pushing me closer and closer to oldfolkdom! Finally decided that I was at the point to where the stool softeners were just not enough. Nope, I needed to call in the reinforcements - prune juice. Oh yea, time to get the drinkable version of drainO into my system. 

So Judy went to Giant Eagle early in the morning to get me my prune juice. I ended up doing this big parfait glass of prune juice on ice. I mean this was the equivalent of downing a half a can of liquid drainO. Tell you what, within 2 hours my pipes were just singing! So guess what’s part of my everyday diet now - yea you guessed it: Prune Juice. I’ll take living with the oldfolkdom moniker over living with hemorrhoids. 

Later in the morning Keith, Guy and Jerry came over to visit for a few hours. After they left I did a 3.5 mile hike nice and easy. Feeling a bit better with respect to the sore and tight shoulders from all the suturing up on my anterior torso. Must be getting a bit of flexibility back in the shoulders such that the hiking is feeling more comfortable. After that just kind of hung out in the living room working on the computer, and then watching a few movies with Judy. And that was my Memorial Day Holiday as I’m heading into the beginning of week three post surgery.


May 30: In Stow at Judy’s for my rehab.

May 29: Managed to stave off boredom today by going into University Hts in Clev in mid morning with my sister and Mike where she’s taking these Pilates Teacher classes. Plan was for me to go to a coffee shop and Mike to walk the dogs while Kim takes the class, then we all head to downtown Clev to the Chinatown district where we’d go to this wonderful, huge Asian Grocery store. 

Got to University Hts by 11 AM, and I worked on my computer in a coffee shop for a couple hrs. Then we drove to the grocery which is somewhere off of Chester Ave. I just love these places, and as I’m shopping a gazillion recipes are going through my head. Right now my big goal is to replace many of the sauces I currently have with low sodium versions. So today my aim was low sodium Oyster sauce. Found that plus a few other items to restock my Asian sauces pantry. 

Got back to Judy’s and I was just right back in the “dead zone” again. I mean all I wanted to do was to just lay down and rest. Just felt spent - from my strenuous day of grocery shopping! Yup this open heart surgery stuff is indeed serious business, and I still find it amazing how low I’m going to have to sink to before the long and arduous journey back to my prior fitness level - hopefully a better fitness level. Snoozed on and off for about 3 hrs as Judy watched some movies on TV. Then I forced myself to get up to do a walk, the same 2.5 mile route I’d done the day before, and I’ll tell you what, being just that little bit fatigued made this tougher than I thought it would be. Now it wasn’t crazy hard where I had to stop and take a break, but I felt the effort today. 

There is this smallish hill on the route, and I made it a point to walk it slower than I had the day prior because I’m not supposed to get my HR anywhere past RPE 3-4. For those of you who are not familiar with the RPE (rating of perceived exertion), it goes from 1-10, with 1 being equivalent to sitting on the couch, and 10 being your HR is so high that it feels as though you’ve reached max HR. So my 3-4 is pretty dang easy really. I’d call it low to mid Z2. So Z3 and above right now for me is forbidden, what with all that nice, new micro suturing of my coronary arteries. And I get it, so I’m not going to buck my stipulations. My goal is to be a very good a patient  - and to do exactly what I expect my coaching clientele to do in order to be good clients - listen!

Finished the walk, plopped on the couch and watched to idiot box for a couple hours, trying to stave off the inevitable: trying to fall asleep with my upper body propped up in the sitting position with my legs stretched out in front of me on top of pillows. Right now trying to sleep like this is just killing me. I’m a fetal position sleeper, and to have no other sleep position available to me other than on my back, with my back propped up, it’s miserable. And I’m getting to the point to where I just dread trying to go to bed each night. 

I’ve tried to sleep in the supine position, to no avail. Feels as though I have a boulder on my chest what with all that suturing. Then it’s almost impossible to get up since I’m not allowed to put much pressure/torque on my chest by pushing, pulling, twisting with my arms. Now my abs are strong as steel, but the strain it puts on my chest to try to rise without using the arms - it’s so incredibly painful and dangerous that I’m just not into taking the chance on damaging that sternum. So I’ve found the most comfortable/and safe sleep position is with my back propped up at about a 45 degree angle so I can lop a leg onto the floor and push with my leg as I twist and use my abs to get up into the sitting position. Feels good for about 5 minutes and then the hell starts, probably because I’m just not used to sleeping like this. I snore like hell on my back to the point to where I wake myself up! What’s more I’m surrounded by like 8 pillows to prop up arms and legs and head and back. I’m just praying for the first night where I can go back to that fetal position and to do it while lying on a bed instead of a couch!


May 29: In Stow at Judy’s for my rehab.

May 28: Yesterday was my first introduction as to how low I’ll be sinking into the depths of boredom during this rehab process, and how dead tired I could still get from the most menial of a workload. 

Got up around 7:30 AM, worked for a several hours at my job, did this brief blog, then even worked on my 98 Days book document, and hell, just 5 hrs had gone by. So there I was at noon, my ass, low back, and shoulders just crazy sore from either the seated or partially lying position on the couch, with my eyes and mind just totally spent from having been staring at the computer for so long. Judy had gone for a 3 hour bike ride, so I was all by my lonesome. I strolled around the house for a bit to loosen the back and shoulders up, then went outside onto the patio. Ok, so there’s another half hour. Got me thinking how bloody boring this was going to get as I felt better each day. I mean at least when I first came home from the hospital I could just sleep half the day away the. But today, what with not feeling like I was dead tired and sleepy, I was faced with either reading, doing more work on the computer, or watching TV. Didn’t want to do ANY of those things, especially waste my time in front of the boob tube. 

Now I could have gone for a walk, but I was saving myself for when Judy and I were going back to the house to see dad, Kim and Mike later in the afternoon. I figured I’d be doing a dog walk or something then, so I wanted to save my big energy burst for that. I’m getting to a point now where I’m about 2 wks post-surgery, with 4 more wks to go where I have to stay at zero torque on the upper body, that so my sternum can heal properly. I mean hell, will I be up to like 10-12 mile hikes within those four weeks? Going to have to be cuz this sitting around crap is just maddening. 

Anyway, we rolled over to my house around 2 PM. I gave dad a big hug and he just didn’t even get that I’d been gone for a month - let alone was 2 wks out of open heart surgery! He was like, “Hi son, is everything ok?” I mean to him, it didn’t register that I’d been gone. In his world I probably just came downstairs, and he couldn’t figure out why I’d just giving him this big “great to see you again dad” hug. Went upstairs to my room/office and went through a month’s worth of receivables and bills, then I tried to look for some ID stuff my sister needed for the reams of hospital bills and such that are just down the road. Probably spent 2 hours up there working and digging, and by the time I was done, I was just totally and unconditionally spent. Now I had gone up and down the stairs some 3-4 times, and I had helped Kim and Mike get the riding mower started so Mike could cut the lawn, so I’m sure that factored into the overall workload. 

But wow, felt like I’d just run a marathon. I mean I had to lay down on the bed and just crash for God’s sake. And I was spent for the rest of the night. Had zero energy for dinner, and I had to go to the living room to lay down after dinner because I was so tired. So that was the second thing I learned that day, and my sister warned me of it: there would be days where I would question having had the surgery because the amount of steps I’d be taking backwards would be massive in the beginning. Only after months rest and rehab she told me would I begin to take those steps forward to feel as though I was actually making progress past my pre-surgery state of fitness. Funny, because I’d felt so smug about being bored in the morning, thinking I was well on my way to getting over all this. Then all it took was me working at the desk for 2 hours and I was just devoid of energy for the rest of the day. 

I guess I’m going to have these ups and downs each day, and I got a harsh dose of reality that afternoon to prove such was indeed the case.


May 28: In Stow at Judy’s for my rehab.

May 27: Morning similar to yesterday’s in that I was just a groggy mess most of the time, wanting nothing more than to drift in and out of these little naps for several hours. My sister tells me it’s the recovery process for my body having been through all the trauma during and post surgery. Was finally able to roust myself up in the late morning to eat brekkie and to kind of amble about enough to shake off the extreme sleepiness. It’s like a really tired, exhaustion type of a feeling that’s so easy to just give in to, and then you end up on the couch cycling in and out of sleep for 4 hours. But…doc tells me that’s good, so I’ve been rolling with it.

Bill came over to visit, which was a really nice change of pace from my typical day’s flow. After that I went for about a 2.5 mile walk and then came back to the house fairly tired, especially the legs for some odd reason. And there you go, another day gone by. Sorry about such a boring blog right now, but really it’s just the same boring day after day. This stage of recovery is not something to write home about. It’s boring, it generally sucks and I feel like I have WAY too much time on my hands.

Now I do try to stay busy with my business work, but that only goes so far when that’s ALL you have to do for a day! I’m going to have to get cracking on my “98 Days” book which I’ve been working on, on and off for like 6 years now. It’s a humorous look at the trip Ryan and I did across Canada on mt bikes back in 2009. I’m about 2/3 of the way through with it and am going to do an E-book publishing of it when I feel it’s edited down properly. That and I’d been given a couple of books to read. Got a feeling that a whole lot of reading and writing is in my future!


May 27: In Stow at Judy’s for my rehab.

May 26: Have to say a big massive ditto on this morning compared to the prior, and the prior, and the prior. It’s just amazingly tough to roust after all those night hrs of inactivity of the upper body musculature. Now despite the fact that I’m just ingesting about 1/2 the amount of the daily pain med that I’m allowed to ingest, my first feeble reach in the morning is for the pain meds. Then I have to hold my heart shaped pillow tight against my chest until the meds actually begin to kick in. 

Funny, but when I was originally told that I’d be heading down the open-heart surgery track, the only thing that kind of bugged me was the fact that my sternum would have to be split and pealed from side to side. Just couldn’t imagine the process nor the pain that would result. Now, having dealt with it every day for the past ten days, I have to say that it’s not as bad as I imagined it could be, but bad enough of a pain that I don’t think I’ve ever dealt with anything this severe in my lifetime. And ever so slowly it’s getting a bit better with respect to the pain involved with my range of motion and movement in bed when in the supine position. 

The other gnarly thing about the sternum surgery is the fact that the zipper feels as tight as a banjo string when I’m standing, kind of putting a strain on my upper back - right between the shoulder blades - especially when I’m walking. Now it’s getting so that I can go further and longer with slightly less pain, but it’s still darned near at a debilitating level. I want to push my chest forward to kind of stretch the upper back out, but then I put an inordinate amount of strain on the suturing, which is a big no-no. And finally, two other minor peeves about the sternum suturing:  it really hurts when I breath deeply, which doesn’t occur often because I’m not supposed to take any of my activities past an RPE 3-4, and it itches like mad. I find myself lightly scratching in and around all those sutured areas. Sometimes I just have to sit around without a shirt on because the shirt can ever so lightly rub against the suturing thereby causing this endless circle of scratching. 

Ok, so yesterday, for some odd reason, I just could not get myself up and moving in the morning. Hell, I didn’t even have the gas to crack open the computer and work. Just seemed like an never-ending cycle of waking and going back to sleep. I was able to summon up enough gas to eat some raison-brand cereal for brekkie, but then I was right back on the couch going in and out of sleep again. That must have lasted until about 1 PM, when I finally forced myself to sit up, take some pain meds, eat some lunch and work on the computer. What a freaking existence!

Felt I needed to somehow, someway, make the day a positive one, at least from a physical and rehab perspective, so I slowly began to mull around house and then outside on the patio after getting my work done. Decided rather than have Judy do some kind of easy, quick-fix dinner, that I’d help her prep for one of my Chinese stir fry recipes we’d done all that shopping for the day before. And believe you me, just doing that prep work sitting at the kitchen table, that kind of tires me out! While the pork was marinating in the fridge, I do a 2-mile walk, with the last stretch involving walking up this small hill that connects the main road to the Bike & Hike trail. Amazing how much I felt that little hill. Now I think I did stay within my RPE parameters, but it was definitely at the high end. 

Came back, did the stir fry with Judy and that was it, another day down. Feels good to see that over the course of 10 days post-surgery, I’ve been able to go from being able to walk from the hospital bed to the bathroom, to being able to walk 2 miles outdoors. Not only that, but to have been able to push through a malaise of wanting nothing more than to sleep on the couch all day, to helping out with cooking dinner and getting in my longest walk, that felt like a wonderful little victory.


May 26: In Stow at Judy’s for my rehab.

May 25: How can I describe the simple act of getting up in the morning when you’re a post-opp “CABAG” (Cornonary Artery By-pass Graft Surgery) patient? I mean there are mornings where the pain just transcends logical description. I think what happens is that all the musculature and bone in the upper torso kind of stiffens up over night so that by morning, when you attempt to move out of the supine position, all those muscles and that big cloak of rib cage and sternum is in no way ready to make even a millimeter of movement. For me anyway, the pain is just crazy, and I find myself kind of panting out loud in pain as I wiggle, fidget, and struggle to drag myself into an upright position. There’s a little moaning in there to, but I try to keep the vocalization to a minimum so as to not alarm Judy too much.  

Yup, mornings and nights are just the worst. And this is where my aversion to using pain pills comes to an end. I’ve got a small arsenal of pain meds, which I’ve been trying to use very sparingly - now not stupid sparingly, but logical sparingly. And when I say logical, I mean that once I’m able to move around a bit in the daytime, the pain seems to subside a bit such that I can function with little to no pain med ingestion. It’s the nights and mornings that really force me into the “mother’s little helpers” bottle. And let me tell you…I feel much, much better within 15 minutes of pain med ingestion. So those are my mornings. Oh yea, and what’s even worse, once I’m able to slither off the couch I’m this hunched over little dinosaur looking creature with his skinny arms cradled inward like a T-Rex as I stumble to the bathroom in the morning. 

So once the pain meds kick in, and once the muscle and bone limber up a tad, enough for me to move around better, I try to get off my bed/couch/chair and into the kitchen so I can get some breakfast down. Then I have Judy brew me just one cup of coffee, which I’ll nurse for hours when go back into the living room to work on the computer. Typically I drank a great big 16-oz mug of super charged coffee. But now, what with some new tubing sutured into my coronary arteries, I am really trying to cut back on my coffee consumption. Don’t know if there’s any logic there, and I do not have any directives specifying a cut in my coffee intake, but I’m just trying to modify my lifestyle a bit for the better in numerous different directions. Got a new lease on life, and I’m damned well going to make the best of it!

So today I suggested that we drive up to this little Asian grocery up on State Rd in the Falls, and then hit this little Indian grocery into downtown falls to stock up on some items I’m going to need to cook with at Judy’s. Top on the list is my new choice in soy sauce - LOW SODIUM soy! Never used the stuff before, but now, what with the low sodium specification in my diet I’m on board. So I wanted to get this “jug” of soy. When we shop up there I usually buy these big bottles of product, like soy, oyster sauce, chili pastes, sesame oil and the like. Also needed to get a 10-lb bag of brown basmati rice to cook with rather than the white basmati rice we’d used in the past. Also got some frozen seaweed rolls to fire up as appetizers. 

Now just that little trip alone and I was beat when we got back. Felt as though I’d just participated in a 6-7 hr Christmas shopping session! Had to take about a 2 hr nap. Then we managed to get in like a 1.25 mile walk. The day ended with Judy helping me to wash. Now since I cannot shower on my own, I kind of have to be careful of all the suturing on my upper body and left arm. Talk about a humbling experience, I mean when you don’t have the strength and flexibility to even wash yourself, that’s an eye-opener man! And what’s even worse is that looking in the mirror at myself. Good God…I have lost so much upper body musculature. Hell, I used to have some guns for arms. Now they’re turning into doll rods! And my chest and shoulders….ooopa…those pups are deflating faster that a punctured tire tube! I’m going to have one hell of a rebuilding project on my hands when I’m given the green light to begin a resistance program again. Felt like a million bucks once she got me cleaned up and into my jammies!


May 25: In Stow at Judy’s for my rehab.

May 24: Made the big drive today from Lakewood at Kim’s house to Judy’s house in Stow to continue my REC. Now to be honest my REC is really nothing more than to do nothing - except for walking - such that I can let this sternum and all the musculature around it heal. I mean my lifting restrictions are pretty specific: do NOT lift, push or pull anything that is more than 10 pounds! And add to that the reaching issues I currently have. I mean if I try to reach to pick up say my cell phone, where I extend my arm out at full extension, kind of like reaching back with a chest fly motion, wow, feels as if my pectoral muscles are about to pull off the rib cage. Makes sense I guess when you think that all those muscles had to be cut to open my chest up. So anyway, my range of motion is severely limited. What’s more, when I look in a mirror…ouch, I see myself as already having atrophied a good deal in the chest, back and shoulders. Lost a cup size already in the chest! I’m going to look like a total gimp once this sternum thing is healed up and I’m given the green light to begin an upper body strength regime. Kim’s already got the ball rolling in that area with respect to who I’ll be seeing for my rehab and what the time line looks like. She did, just to reiterate her mantra to me about NOT doing anything upper body-wise, forward to me some conversations she had with my Rehab docs already, where they stressed to her the importance of me letting that sternum area heal for the first 6 weeks post-opp. Consensus is that 3 months from now, what with my current non-active status and then the remainder being in an active status, that I’ll be able to get close to where I was when all this happened. 

Hey, the die was cast a week ago when I had the surgery, so this is my future and I by gosh have to accept it. It’s just to think of how much of a decrement in my fitness I have to sink to before I can actually start the building back up process, that’s what eats at me. I mean I totally look forward to when I’m given the green light to get things going, and I’m pretty stoked that I’ll be doing this under the auspices of some pretty brilliant sports cardiologists and exercise physiologists. From what I’ve been told by my sis is that these guys are just world class in the rehab of athletes with my condition. I mean it will be like having a coach! Wow, what a concept. And one thing I know about coaching is that my job is usually urging my clients to do less rather than do more. It will feel very different to be on the other side of this process. 

The drive from Lakewood to Stow was eventful only in that I can, when I’m being transported in a motor vehicle, feel each and every freaking bump and pothole in the road. I mean the shock goes directly to my sternum. Sometimes I have to hold this little red heart shaped pillow the Clev. Clinic gave me, this to kind of cushion the road shock. Got to Judy’s and hung out outside on the patio, whereupon her son Jim, his wife Emmy, and their daughter Eleyna and her friend came to visit us for a couple hours, and then Judy’s sister Vic came over with some dinner she’d made for us. We all ended up doing a walk of about a mile around the neighborhood, then sitting around talking for an hour or two. I was probably up and down, and walking around more today than at anytime thus far, and it eventually showed, because by about the time they were ready to leave I was starting to have my mid-afternoon doze-offs. I was just doing these head bobs as I was in conversation. 

Once everyone left I just went indoors and napped on the couch for several hours. Definitely a long day for little Petey!


May 24: Moving from Lakewood to Stow at Judy’s for my rehab.

May 23: Not a super night of sleep from Sunday night into Monday, but way, way better than any night of sleep I’d had in the hospital. Feel like I’m incrementally better at being able to lift myself on and off of the couch, while still being cognizant of not putting too much pressure on my sternum sutures. Sometimes it feels as though those sutures are so tight that they’re pulling my shoulders inward, protracting them rather than all the retraction I’d been working on prior to the trip. 

Sis had figured that all my years of cycling had kind of hunched me over, rolling my shoulders inward, so I’d been instructed to work on improving my posture by pushing my shoulders backwards, retracting them such that I was kind of expanding my rib cage. So I’d been working on that for the better part of a year now. Ok, so now with this open heart operation those sutures are so tight that for me to push my shoulders back, to retract them, it feels as though I’m about to pop all those sutures. I mean they are so freaking tight. So when we’re talking about all the rehab I have in front of me, man I had that to do to, working on regaining any semblance of flexibility in my chest/rib cage area. 

Able to work for several hours in the morning on the computer and then I did like this 30 min walk. Felt slow, but ok. It’s just crazy how damned fatigued I get right now. So got in from the walk and then attempted to wash myself without taking the shower - right now they don’t want me to had a direct stream of water on the sutured areas of my body. Did the Mt. Everest climb up the two flights of stairs to the shower room. That in itself is a workout! Had to wash my hair under the spigot, then use body soap and a washrag to kind of dry wash my zippered upper body and left arm. Did the same for my lower body. Sat there kind of doing a REC couple minutes sitting on the floor resting from the work I’d just done washing myself. Just amazing my current state of fitness. Then I did the long ass descent down those two flights of stairs to the couch where I just crashed for 4 hours of cat napping. 

The real challenge of the day was making dinner for Mike and I. I did this super easy stir fry recipe. But I’m telling you I had so many REC sessions in there that I must have taken me 1.5 hrs to prep what would normally take me about 30 min to prep. Let the pork marinade for 1 hr then I had Mike fish out Kim’s wok from under a ton of cookware that I just didn’t have the strength to move. Cooked a pretty decent meal and that was it. I retired to the couch for another napping session while Mike cleaned up the kitchen. That day to me was just BIG! And the thing I learned from that dinner is that I’m going to have to settle on some pretty simple dishes when I attempt to cook right now. That’s really going to impact me when I make the move back home and begin taking care of dad again. 

And there is a whole other issue there, our pop. I’ve been a live-in care giver for years now. Thankfully, my sis, her boyfriend, our friend Karen and her daughter, they’ve all pitched in since my heart issues and helped with looking after dad. Dad has dementia and cannot recall things much past 5 or so minutes in the past. So explaining this whole dilemma of where I’d been, what has happened to me, how long I’ve been gone, that’s going to be outside his realm of understanding. So I’m really going to have to kind of just return as if nothing has happened, with zippers on my chest and arm, and with a limited amount of energy to operate on. I’m hoping that another week of me getting taken care of will give me enough strength to get back into the care giver role again. I just have to be super careful not to overdo it. Anyway, this is going to be the next challenge in my road to recovery.


Monday, May 23. Still in Lakewood at my sister’s house. 

Sunday, May 22. Man, talk about feeling sore and stiff when you get up in the morning. Well, post-opp open heart surgery really gives this a whole new meaning that. Just the act of actually getting up, that’s a bloody challenge. See, I can only exert a specific amount of push-pull pressure on my chest since its needing about 6 wks to really heal properly, so I have to kind of scoot my arse to the right spot to where I can lop a leg down onto the floor, then do the same with the second leg, then use my abs and a bit of a push or pull with my hands to finally sit up. Feels like my chest is going to pull apart no matter what. But I really have to minimize that push or pull component. TG I’ve been so fastidious in training my abdominals over the years. All those bloody hanging windshield wipers and leg lifts and scissors etc., those have now really come in handy. 

Made it up had some brekkie and coffee, worked a bit on the computer and then did my first walk with Judy, probably going about a half mile up and down the road Kim lives on. Felt pretty good, though my whole goal here is just to get my body familiar with motion again. We walked up to this RR Xing, which I’m probably going to have to investigate later! Now I’d been told by one of the Cardiac Care docs that right now I don’t want to exceed 4-5 on the RPE scale, the rating of your perceived exertion. 

And I was warned that despite the bike being my activity of choice for cardio, that it might not be advisable right now due to the jostling and braking and the potential of crashing. They don’t want anything to hinder the healing process of my sternum, and what with all the upper body mechanics that go with cycling, the potential for a problem is much higher than in walking. So right now, at least for a month, walking is my cardio choice. They probably bloody freak out if they knew I’d likely ride my fixie if I was given the GO signal to bike. 

Came back and sat in the sun on a porch swing. I have to admit that just sitting there kind of bummed me out. I mean here it is, just about summer, after my having sat out the whole winter with that torn medial meniscus in my knee, and I’m like right back in the same boat again, having to really curtail my activity level due to an injury - this time open heart surgery. Had it been any other time in my life I’d have been out there riding or hiking for 3-6 hrs on a sunny Sunday. “Hell,” I thought, “at the very least I should be in N. Cal finishing up American Dirt.” 

Just so amazing how suddenly your life can take this crazy 180. Now I know, and I’ve rationalized all I’d been through and how life changing these last two weeks have been in my world. I mean really there was no choice but to do and be where I’m at right now. To have done nothing after finding out how grave my coronary artery situation was, hell that would just be a miserable life of wondering how, when and where the big one would happen. That would be living the malaise and limited functionality that I’d been experiencing - and detesting - for the prior year. Doing nothing, or at the very least postponing the inevitable surgical intervention would have been crazy. 

So as I sat there swinging on the swing with the bright warm sun beating down on me, I had two distinct perspectives kind of doing wrangling with each other in my mind: the first perspective, the “why me” mantra, the weep-wow poor, poor pitiful me song playing over and over in my head was simply me just feeling sorry for myself on such a beautiful day where all I could do for the day was to walk a half mile. The other perspective, the positive one that’s a bit harder to look at because it involves extreme patience and planning, tells me I’ve progressed well in just 5 days since laying on the operating table, and tells me I have this wonderful second chance in life beginning to open up to me. 

Yea, patience is going to be the key here. Loose a little bit this summer in the recovery process for the good of the rest of my life. It’s so easy to talk the talk with something like this, but to walk the talk, that’s much harder. I just have to keep telling myself what Doc Badger told me during my heart cath: “Peter, you just won the lottery!” Forget about not finishing American Dirt, forget about not being able to go ride or hike on a beautiful Sunday, forget about starting back at ground zero in my fitness routine, forget about all of that because I just won the lottery. 

So I sat out in the sun for about an hour before going back inside. Judy left for Stow and that’s when I made me first venture up stairs to go lay down on a bed instead of on the couch down in the living room. Now Kim had warned me about doing stairs. And damn was she right. Got to the top and I could feel my heart beating pretty good, probably a bit more than that RPE 4-5 I was supposed to not exceed. Amazing! That was hard. Laid down and I must have cat-napped for a good 4 hours. By the time I’d gotten up we’re talking like 5:30 PM. 

Now Kim had done some shopping for Mike and I before she left to go to dad’s, believing and making me believe that I’d be down in the kitchen creating these scrumptious meals that evening with Mike doing the sous-chef thing helping me out. NOT! I was so weak and tired when I got up that I just had zero motivation to plan, prep and then cook a meal. Mike got back from a dog walk and felt just the same. So round about 8 PM, we’re both looking at each other kind of wondering what we’re going to eat for dinner. He fired up some leftovers from Sunday and then we boiled some frozen chinese dumplings. And that was it. That was my first full day away from the hospital….work on computer, walk a half mile, sit and swing in the sun for an hour, sleep for 4 hours, lay on the couch and eat dinner, go to bed?  Yup, going to take a whole lot of patience to see myself from moving away from this pathetic existence to riding dirt track up a mountain again.


May 22: Kim’s house in Lakewood. 

Thursday, May 19. I’d been moved to the Cardiac Care Post-Opp floor. Got a nice single room with a flat screen TV on the wall and a good little bathroom/shower room attached. It was set up as a kind of carbon copy of the Pre-Opp room. Man, I just felt like I’d been smashed and put back together. Began the day with the litany of vitals, blood tests, EKG’s and rating of my pain which to me always hovered in the 6-7 area. They used that guideline in order to give me my pain med dosage. That med is Oxycodone and Tylenol, and tell you what, that oxy pup will tune you up fast. Now for me, the pain was focused down my sternum. Just felt as if my sternum was super duper tight and sewn hard and tight back together with bailing wire. Of course that was just my perception. In reality my sternum was glued back together and then I had a small amount of suturing pulling my skin together. The “zipper” is actually smaller than I had predicted, and it runs from my throat down to just above my bellybutton. It’s a clean and small line. 

Had the cadre of Cardiac docs, nurse practitioners and specialists in to see me and everyone, I mean everyone was really encouraged about how far I’d progressed by Thursday morning. Was great to hear that, BUT, wow I felt like a limp and delicate rag doll that had been run over by a cement truck, so to me, those kudos just kind of rang hollow. I mean they were stoked that I was able to walk to the bathroom and get out of bed with little to no assistance, and I was bummed that I was one step above being bedridden. Just came down to the fact that I was so far away from any level of familiarity that my current state of fitness just felt off the charts poor for me. They were all talking about me possibly leaving the hospital on Sat, which would put me at 3.5 days from my day of surgery. So I wanted to do any and all I could to keep that goal a real possibility to them and to me. 

With that said, I did my spirometer blowing every hour, I tried like hell to eat, which on day 2 out of surgery still wasn’t a good thing for me. Number one, I just didn’t like the food, and my allowable selections. I mean really it was all just so freaking bland. For brekkie I could have these “kiddie” pancakes or grilled cheese or omelet with choice of a box of cereal and drink, and then the lunch and dinner selections were really all interchangeable. But, the rice was bland, the noodles were bland, the ravioli was bland, the chicken, beef and fish, bland, bland, bland. But I did my best to consume. Almost like a kid pinching his nostrils together, I’d take a breath, eat, chew like hell, then swallow, bite after bite. Knew that consumption spelled getting stronger, and getting stronger spelled discharge from hospital. 

I’d switch from the movable hospital bed to this easy chair next to the bed, so I was always positioned in an upright stature, this because if I’d get closer to a full lying position, it felt as though my chest had a giant boulder on top of it. Really, it felt crushing with that sternum part of my body. Plus, I’d feel better from a spittle and nasal drainage standpoint  with my upper body elevated more. That prevented me from coughing…because coughing spelled PAIN in a big big way. Judy and Joey came in to see me on Thurs, as did my sis in the evening. And I think I had one X-ray of my chest that day. Thursday night…no luck again with respect to quality sleeping. It was just so hard what with having your vitals taken every couple hours and people checking in and out constantly. Just couldn’t feel comfortable, couldn’t get comfortable, hell…couldn’t BUY comfortable if I had wanted to.

Friday, May 20: Kind of like a repeating tape, I mean that’s the hospital experience thing for me. You have these procedures that are replicated by the hour and by the day. And by Friday I was used to the routine: Blood draw super early, weight measured super early, EKG, super early, brekkie at 7 AM, meds at 9 AM - and that includes this shot in the abdomen of anti-blood coagulant that is either this horrible hornet stinging pain if administered too slow, or tolerable if administered quickly. That abdominal shot became the bane of my existence in there because I’d have some great administers, and then some poor administors. The floor nurses, the RN’s were super good. But a few of the off-hours nurses were just way too slow. Hell, I’d administered the damned thing to myself and did better than a few of those nurses. 

Ok, back to routine, where I’d meet with the Cardiac care team and even my surgeon after the meds. Then really the rest of the day was a mix of more vitals taken and me just trying to get comfortable. Still hadn’t had a ….well….poop since about Tuesday. Amidst all my meds they were including stool softeners and the such to prepare my lower GI to get back to work after such a traumatic nearly half day of anesthesia. And they said that would come, maybe in a big big way. The food order chick would be in before lunch and then take my order for lunch, dinner and the next day’s brekkie. More vitals were taken throughout the day, and these tiny wires were removed that hooked up to my heart in case I’d have needed some shocks to tune the heart up, and then I’d get the second round of meds at 9 PM. 

There were times where I’d just “escape” to the can with newspaper in hand and sit on the commode, hell, just for a different seating position! All my pee had to be measured so I’d be peeing in this little hand latrine with a cap on top, so I’d have to take that little plastic latrine with me on my potty trips. 

By bedtime Friday night everyone seemed pretty sure that Saturday would be my release day. Along with the meds, I got that shot from the evening nurse and that had to be the worst shot of this stuff since I’d been getting the shots back in Elko. I mean it sent me through the roof, and the residual pain was just crazy. Swore then and there I was done with those freaking things. Did manage to get in a bit of sleep that night, maybe  couple hrs at a time from like 9:30 PM to 5 AM amidst all the vitals checks etc. 

Saturday, May 21. Went through the same procedures I’d been doing prior, and then had a few more Cardiac care docs come in to inform me that I was indeed leaving this day, sometime around noon. Called Judy to let her know to be there by 11 AM. My sis and her boyfriend were at his hall of fame induction ceremony out of state, so she was staying in touch with me via the phone. As shitty as I felt, by God I was on my way out of the procedure and structure I’d come to dread. 

Now don’t get me wrong, this is THE premier hospital in the world for cardiac care, they’ve got he best of everyone and everything, and the care I’d gotten up through that point was just stellar. But man, I think the surgery, my fatigue level and my body just crying for sleep had put me in a place where I was just ready to press the eject button. I’ve seen the world from the inside of the hospital now, so I did understand that all I was going through was for my benefit. Yet it’s still tough to take on a daily basis, the testing, the vitals, the probing, the food orders, the questions, the “captivness” of living in this room on this floor with a cadre of people coming in and out all day and night. Yea, I was ready to go. 

Had my sutures taken out  of my sternum and then I had a couple nurses come in to begin my debriefing session along with the parameters I’d be living under once released. Also had appointments made for follow-ups with various Cardiac care docs and PT’s through the summer. Now there was one last item they wanted me to complete before I’d leave - that sacred bowel movement. I was either going to do it on my own that morning or they were going to have to give me an enema to help “massage” the prospect. So I took it upon myself to take a trip into the can and just sit with paper in hand. It worked by gosh, not only once, but twice. Went through the discharge process and out we were, traveling west to Lakewood for me to stay at Kim’s house for a couple days. Man I didn’t realize just how fragile I felt, because as we were driving through Clev, trying to get on 90 west, every bump we hit was like a mortar shell to the chest. It just resonated down my body like a punch to the head. 

Now that morning I was having this crazy sinus discharge draining into my throat, so that drainage was causing me to cough constantly, with me trying to “hack up” the crap to spit in a kleenex. It was the coughing that was just so painful as hell. Got to Kim’s and I was just coughing constantly, so we called a number they’d given us from the clinic to talk to a nurse practitioner who was on call and available to answer my questions. She said I could take a generic benadryl to dry me up, and that’s just what I did. Within an hour the benadryl and the pain meds had gotten me feeling…high…but dry!

Kim and Mike made it back and they got some great prepared food from a local fine food place and we all feasted, me for the first time in well over a week and a half. God it felt good to be alive, to be hungry and more than anything, to be with loved ones! Went to bed satiated, not coughing and knowing I had no vitals to be checked and no blood to be drawn. That Saturday night was the best night of sleep I’d had in nearly two weeks. wow!


May 20: First of all, I’m fine, having gotten out of the surgery and out of ICU in a day. Just might get released tomorrow.

Well, gang, I’ll do my best to give you an up close of open heart by-pass surgery. So I was awoke on Tuesday, May 17 at 5 AM, this so a guy could manscape me from chest to toes, for the actually open heart surgery all the way to all the potential vein and artery harvesting sits in the arms and legs. Dude said, “man you’re in good shape, what the hell?” I did ask the docs earlier, if at all possible not to harvest from the legs, as those could potentially have long lasting effects. What’s more, they were more interested in left radial artery of the arm, and the internal mammary arteries. Then they had me shower with this special antibacterial wash, and gargle with this antibacterial mouthwash. My nostrils were swabbed with some kind of gel the night before. No water or food in the system since midnight, and of course that continued through morning. Kim came in at 6 AM.  Got in my gown and in came the delivery guy to get me to the doors of the OR. Kim hugged me and off I went, down into this massive OR complex, where there were just room after OR room. 

I was met at the door by this really friendly guy was was in charge of my breathing. We talked a bit about mountain biking, and then he introduced me to his bud, Jason who was a cyclist/triathlete on Was Lab team, and who was involved as an anesthetist. Have to admit it was good that these guys could keep me engaged in talk rather than let me just lay there and stare at the ceiling and wonder……………. Then I met my lead anesthetist and they wheeled me into this amazing room. It was filled with giant flat screen monitors, tons and tons of machines and then these massive clusters of lights above my head. Inside were at least 12-15 people dressed in full scrubs who where hooking up machines, cleaning and sorting surgical equipment. It was humbling indeed. I was moved to the right onto the surgical bed, with each are palm arm move facing up and at about 45 degrees to my torso. No sometime in the interim I’d been fed whatever it was to really knock me out via a catheter  in my right arm. Don’t even remember feeling sleepy. It was like that’s all I remember. This was at 7 AM. 

Woke up in another room with this tube down my throat, and I felt as if I were gagging with that thing so far down my throat. I couldn’t talk at all obviously, but was motioning for someone, anyone to take that damn tube out. I think I was kind of pissed as I mentioned and motioned to get that freaking tube out. Someone told me I had to wait another 30 minutes to make sure I was coming fully off the anesthesia. God, seemed like forever before they pulled that tube. Kim was there and I found out the time was 6 PM. Turns out I was on the OR table for 7.5 hrs, and in ICU 3.5 hrs before waking. Never, ever felt that crushed before in my life. I mean I was just a ball of protoplasm. And as I slowly came more and more back to the world I found I had these three big tubs going into my chest, tubes going into my carotid artery on the right, a catheter in my privates, and EKG’s and hookups everywhere, and this giant pressure bandage on my whole left forearm. 

Just felt as though I’d been hit by a train - and lived! Kim told me all was successful and that I’d gotten 5 by-passes, 5!!! Not only that but I’d had little to no actual heart tissue damage from the MI I’d suffered on Wed. Had them turn on the Cavs game and watched that, then just lay there the rest of the night in this weird state of half awake/half groggy. Horrible night. 

Next day, Wednesday, May 18, they began to get me ready for a possible move into post-opp. First they removed those big monster tubes from my chest cavity - one at a time, and it was painful. Next up was the catheter, not as bad as I’d thought it would go, and finally the stuff in my right carotid artery. This was all done after I was encouraged to get up and sit on a chair, to further let all that gunk drain out of my body. Final move was for me to be able to pee in a cup to I could show the folks in the post-opp dept. that I did not need a catheter. Managed to conjure up enough of a “collection” to punch my move out of ICU. 

Judy and Vic, and Kim managed to get in to see me that day, and they told me how good I looked. But by and large, I was just a weak, tired mess, and wanted nothing more than to talk and try to carry on a meaning full conversation. Tried to eat, but it was more like nibbling. They had me doing this spirometer exercise for ten reps once per hour. Had a few more tests and did a walk around the post-opp floor. But really I just wanted to sleep, but couldn’t, because of all this goop building up in my throat and forcing me to cough, which when your sternum has been split in half, is really painful! Tried to sleep in either a chair or with the bed in the highest upright position possible, to no avail. No sleep on Wed either.


May 13,14,15 & 16: Written on May 16. Surgery tomorrow, May 17 at 7 AM. Just going to view tomorrow as a long and challenging ride up and down a mt. Dirt track of course!

Thursday, May 12: Well that night, Thursday night in the ICU in Elko at the hospital, it was just hell, for the second freaking night in a row for God’s sake. Trouble was I just couldn’t get comfortable. Now my A-fib was gone, and I had a stable HR and pressure. They had injected me with something that day that brought the shoulder and chest tightness to an end within a minute. My issue was my lower GI. Man, I’m a guy who has NEVER been on meds, and I’m only guessing here, but suddenly I was talking these little pill cups full of pills 2x a day. Issue was that I felt like I had terrible gas cramps or else I was constipated. Felt miserable. So there I was again, night 2, not sleeping a freaking minute. I basically just watched the clock all night long as I tossed and turned with wires and IV’s and leg pumps hooked up to me. What’s more I was rousted every 2 hrs for more blood draws, more EKG’s and more vitals. Wow, to experience all that from this side of the bed! Such an experience makes sleeping in sodden clothing in a tent on the side of a mountain during a snowstorm where you’re freezing your ass off seem more palatable. And it is! 

Friday, May 13: So we were hoping for me to get out of the hospital on Friday to really speed up the whole travel process, but as the day wore on, what with me looking and feeling like petrified shit, it just wasn’t going to happen. Doc Badger really wanted to make sure I was looking better as well as all my vitals and testing indicating I was better, well, at least fit enough to travel on a jet. And then there was Kim was back in OH spending hrs going over every G-D flight combination to figure out how to get me home with the least amount of layover time. I mean that Friday I just felt like a limp rag with zero energy who had a monster case of gas build-up in the lower GI, who didn’t even want to talk, walk, or be social. I just wanted to lay there in a fetal curl with all my freaking cords and pumps and wires wrapped around my body. Didn’t take long to figure that we were shooting for Saturday as my departure from NV.

Now I had hardly eaten a thing up to that point since I’d eaten breakfast the morning before my Wed ride, so we’re talking like 2 straight days of nothing but IV bags going into me. I passed on Thurs and Fri lunch and dinner at the Elko hospital. Just the thought of food made me want to vomit. And look, this is coming from the connoisseur of “All you can Eat” Chinese and Indian buffets, and the king of Subway Footlongs! Was funny now to think back at Judy and Vic picking away at some of my goodies from each meal I just left sitting there. 

Saturday, May 14: Friday night….that was my visit with the Sandman by God. I mean somehow, someway I slept like 10-12 hrs, getting rousted every 2 hrs for something that needed to be checked. But nonetheless, once the test was over, man I’d be back to sleep in zero time. Felt like 100% better Saturday morning. But when I say 100%, that’s 100% better than COMPLETE AND UTTER SHIT! So in my normal world I was still fatigued, haggard and weak, but much better. By noon I’d gotten the word that I would be released. And just before that I had my last chat with Doc Badger. We chatted for a bit, him, Judy, Vic and I, and then I asked him if he could answer me one Cardio 101 question: Why, with such great blood profiles, do I have the coronary arteries of a corpse? His answer: I don’t know. Lot of theories out there he told us, genetics is a big one, but there’s more, much more. He told us of current studies that may indicate simple sugars and white flour products could play a role. But to my question, it’s still open to more explanations.

I thanked him sincerely and got myself ready to go. Managed to eat 1/3 of my breakfast that morning and then 1/2 my lunch prior to leaving. Now to all of of you at the Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital in Elko, if you ever read this: You guys were so wonderful to us. Being away so far from home as we were, and to have the caring & highly professional atmosphere and services that you provided to us, that will remain with me forever! You’re a medical oasis in a very big and remote part of the US. I was so lucky to have been sent your way!

Meanwhile Kim had secured a flight for me on Sunday morning, SLC to Detroit, then she was going to come up with her boyfriend, my sometime to be brother-in-law, to get me and drive me straight to the Cleveland Clinic. All this behind the scenes stuff going on as I was still kind of in Shock and Awe from my new predicament. We left Elko at 2 PM for the 4 hr drive to SLC. If you’ve never taken I-80 through this part of the US, it’s truly crazy, what with all the salt flats and salt deserts you pass through. Just not uncommon to go like 100 miles with zero services available. 

Rolled into SLC, and found a hotel as close to the International Airport as possible, a Super 8. We ate at Perkins, where….for the first time in my life I ordered a grilled chicken salad for my entree. Man, I wanted the MEAT & POTATOS! I wanted the chicken pot pie, the fried shrimp dinner, the bloody All-Day breakfast omelets! So for me, Pete the glutton Gladden to order a damned grilled chicken and spinach salad, that’s monumental. I was able to get about half of it down. Went back to the room where I pretty much hit the pillow asap for another solid night of sleep.

Sunday, May 16: Woke to a wet and stormy looking Sunday morning in SLC. Shoveled down some of my leftover salad and then off to the airport. We were there in 10 minutes. Tough saying goodbye to Jude and Vic, knowing I had 3 hrs to Detroit and then 2 hrs by car to Clev, while they had 2K to drive in the van. Kim had set me up in First Class, so I had this papa bear recliner to relax in. No coffee for like the fourth day in a row, and man I was feeling the DT’s. I mean in 1st class I could be a drunken sailor in an open bar for gosh sake, yet I was limited to soda, water, and juices. Then there was the brekkie selection: the Omelet and this quinoa hot breakfast cereal. No harm, no foul, no one watching me, I took the omelet!

Flight went quick as I tried to catch up on the blog. Then the drive back to Clev with Kim and Mike. Turns out it had snowed that morning in Clev, just in time for the marathon! Wow, the weather out here just continues to suck. So we came straight to the Clev Clinic where Kim had begun days ago through her emails with me and those in the Clinic medical community, to expedite my entry into the surgery chain of events. Now I’d thought I’d be able to chill for a night at Kims house and go in Monday. Nope! Straight to the Clinic we went. Doc’s orders!

And then began more rounds of testing, along with meeting some of the team of docs who will be working together to facilitate a successful surgery for me. Kim hung out at the Clinic with me for a good 3 hrs and then had to go home to take care of dad. About an hour later I was on a wheelchair (still feels so… cheating) ride to the 7th floor and the pre-op suite of rooms. And wow, I’m in like this “Room with a View” of the city, with a bloody flat screen bigger than ours at home. I had this EKG hooked up to me, but it’s like a bluetooth device where I can just carry or lay next to me, the sending unit. Nurses were fantastic, got a late dinner, and was told that they’d hopefully have me on the surgery schedule for Tuesday, which meant Monday, today, would be a testing day. That meant more blood, EKG, vein & artery compatibility, MRI, and ultra-sound testing. 

Stayed up and worked till midnight, trying to work ahead in my client training workload, knowing that for at least 2-3 days, I’d not be able to sit there with computer in lap, let alone think logically. Went to bed with seven zillion things flittering through my brain. 

Monday, May 16: Brekkie followed by a flurry of activity, which included meeting the doc who helped Kim get my situation addressed, Dr. Phelan, and then the rest of my cardiac team: Dr Kline and his Cardiac Imaging Service Team, and finally my surgeon Dr. Smedira. Whooo…..talking to these gentlemen, it’s really cool asking questions and getting their responses. These are some brilliant folks. I mean they are so tuned into their gig that it’s mind numbing. Wish I had that kind of Q and A opp way more often, but then again hell, it’s my life here we’re talking about. So maybe like talking over a beer is way more preferable than it is when you’re one day pre-opp, laying on a bed with an open-back gown on?

Well, gang, I just waned to catch you all up to where I am today. I will continue this blog ONLY because I truly believe that there’s a Pete Gladden-like man out there who just might read this and note some similarities and commonalities in his health status to what I’ve just discussed about mine, because I’ll tell you what, this caught me by total surprise. Fitness alone just ain’t the cure all as I falsely believed for decades. There’s so much more to the picture, and much of it is still theory and conjecture. But wow those damned genes, they’re very critical to steering your life’s direction. They’re the ones that once enabled me to attain a VO2 of nearly 70, and at the same time they’re the same ones that could have be responsible for gradually clogging my coronary arteries. So far I’ve been a very lucky man in this brand new journey into cardiac rehab. Hell, as Dr. Badger exclaimed to me last Thursday: “You just won the Lottery.” But will the next guy be as lucky as me to catch it before a massive heart attack kills him? I feel I have to pass this karma on to the next guy. 

Probably won’t be able to blog for Tues and Wed, we’ll see, but might be a few days again till you hear from me. So I’ll say this: I’m as well prepared for tomorrow as I used to be for an A-race. Got a great Cardiac support team, got my loved ones, got all you guys out there, got luck, got a good attitude, got my fitness, got it all man. See you at the finish line come Tuesday evening……..Pete


May 12: Written on May 15/16. Just to let everyone know: I AM OK. No riding. Traveled by van from Eureka to Elko. 

                           “PETER, YOU JUST WON THE LOTTERY!”

Never slept a wink that night, and I was tired, weak, and felt the irregular HR just as I had the evening before. Shoulders and chest were still tight and aching. So we roust, and head straight over to the Eureka med center for it’s 8 AM opening time. This real nice, cowboy kind of doc brings me in and I immediately show him the email from my sis about the procedures she thinks should be do to check me out. He could do the EKG and provide fluids - electrolytes - but the rest he said should be done at an emergency facility. My EKG showed I indeed had A-fib going on, sometimes up to 180 bmp. He didn’t like that at all, nor the tightness in the shoulders and the chest. Told me flat out, this after I discussed with him what I’d been doing, that I was done…do not pass GO, do not collect 200. He also hooked me up to O2 in addition to the bag of electrolyte. The he suggested that I go to Reno or Elko to see a cardiologist, and upon further thought, he settled on Elko, this because the cardiologist up there is one of the best in the west. “Go NOW,” he insisted, “it’s just under two hours from here to Elko, and go straight to the emergency room!” With that we loaded me, my O2 tank, and my IV into the van, with me in the front passenger seat so we could hang the IV from the sun visor. Actually felt better on the way up to Elko, seeing that I had a couple liters of electrolyte draining into my body. 

The cowboy doc had a few hypothesis on my situation: could be severe dehydration (as I believed all along) or it could be cardiac issues, or it could be some kind of muscle wasting thing going on that my sis was asking him to check for, but he hadn’t the capacity to do there what with no lab. Whatever the case I had to get checked out by a cardiologist to rule out any potential cardiac issues. If it was dehydration, ok, I’d loose a day and have to really refine my electrolyte consumpion…along with eliminating caffeine and alcohol. I was cool either way.

Got to Elko in no time, got in emergency, and had people doing EKG’s and drawing blood asap. Stayed on O2, and had more and more bags of fluids plugged into my arms. So we wait and wait and wait, and then I meet a hierarchy of Docs, culminating with the Dude, the Man, Dr. Badger, the head Cardiologist in Elko and Salt Lake City. Doc didn’t seem alarmed, but did tell me that I had just one marker in my blood test, Troponin, that made him want to probe further in the cardiac direction. “SHIT,” I thought to myself, more testing. Doc wanted to do a Heart Cath on me to make sure the heart is ok. He also wanted a Echo done on my heart. 

Well, the heart cath was the one that kind of rang alarm bells with me, not for what it is, a way to shoot dyes into the heart to watch the flow through the coronary arteries, but for it’s invasiveness: you have to insert a catheter up into the Femoral artery and tease it all the way up into the heart. I just kind of cringe at getting a catheter inserted into my groin! So the did the echo, and not long thereafter it was time for the heart cath. 

Got wheeled into this this big room, with a bed in it and giant square box cameras above me. The bed was able to turn and rotate as was the cameras above. The prep work took a good 30-40 min. in that they had to check veins, get the equipment up and running etc. But the good news was that they were doing a new procedure where they were hoping to go in via the arm…IF that artery will accept the catheter. So just to be safe they had to prep both my right arm and my groin for the catheter - which meant “manscaping” my pubic region next to both Femoral Arteries. 

The three techs got me prepped and in popped Doc Badger ready to roll. They gave me this super mild sedative, which I really didn’t even feel and then they were off and running. Now the initial entry into the artery in my wrist was a good sharp jab, but then the tech/assistant Greg told me that I wouldn’t feel the catheter going up the artery and into the heart because there are no nerves in arteries. That made me feel way better about this “snake” moving up my artery highway. AND they were good to go with the Radial Artery- so no groin entry. 

So they’re doing they’re thing, and I say to the doc, “ok doc I guess this is where you give me the thumbs up or thumbs down to continue this trip.” He laughed, and continued with the test. So we’re just kind of moving along and suddenly he looks at me and says, “Peter, you just won the lottery!”. And I’m thinking, “golden, I’m good to go.” And I said to him, “then I’m ok?” That’s when I’m hit with the head punch. “No,” he says, “you’ve got some blockages, your trip is over!” Just kind of laid there quiet as they wrapped up the test, unhooked me and wheeled me into a smaller room while Doc Badger went over the results. That’s when they bring this 2-D schematic of my coronary arteries out for me to see…and it’s filled with blockages, like 6-7, 4 of which are in the 90% range. This was the GUT punch. My coronary arteries were a mess, and not only that he said I was operating on 55% coronary artery efficiency.

Cannot tell you how much my mind was spinning. WTF was my thought to about everything. How, when, why? I mean I know I haven’t been a choir boy with respect to my diet etc., but to have that much blockage, after 40 years of trying to live a fit life….How?

So the wheel me back to a waiting area and Judy comes in with Vic, and she looks at me and asks how it went. All I did was hand her the piece of 8x10 letter paper with the 2-D drawing of my coronary artery network and the blockages penned in. She began to cry. I was just stunned, and didn’t know what the heck to say. Well, the next step was for my to either go to Salt Lake City where Doc Badger could do open heart surgery, or to facilitate a process whereby I could return to Ohio to have docs back home continue with whatever needed to be done. Well, with the prospect of open heart starring at me, my thought was to be close to home and family, especially with the recovery process. What’s more the Cleveland Clinic is one of the best Heart Care facilities in the world. And thats not to discredit Salt Lake City one iota. But I just believed that being close to home through this whole journey would be way easier for all involved. 

Doc Badger was good with that decision, and he talked to my sis almost immediately after the heart cath. Kim really got the ball rolling for me on so many fronts it would make your head spin. Now I wanted to drive home with the ladies, yet doc Badger and Kim would have no part of that one. Nope, I was flying back to Clev, asap as soon as I was stabilized and cleared for travel by the staff at Elko. But they couldn’t determine when I’d be stable enough to make the trip, so I was to spend at least one night in ICU at Elko before returning to Clev. So there it was, not only was my trip over, but I was about to embark on another journey pronto, this one medical, and big-time medical at that. We’re not talking stints, we’re talking open heart surgery!

And I have to say right here, right now, that there was a part of me that felt so very disappointed in myself. It’s like, “how in the hell did I get myself into this situation?” I mean, I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I live fitness, and to end up as that 60-year-old guy with the zipper down his chest….really…that’s me? Big discussion then was addressing the how. Turns out my lipids were awesome, my cholesterol was awesome, yet my coronary arteries are a mess. Genetics, seemed to be the answer. We can fight through a lot, but genetics, that’s the one I’d brushed aside like a pesky mosquito for the totality of my life. I always thought that what I did, and what I would do, from an athletic standpoint, I thought that would push genetics aside. I thought that would be the great equalizer, if not the victor in the battle against my genetics - which is a family history of cardiac death and cardiovascular problems. 

Man was I wrong! Genetics had not only prevailed, but genetics had made this decisive statement!


May 11: From Monitor Valley Rd to Antelope Valley Rd. Total mileage was 35 miles in app. 4 hrs of riding with 3300 feet of elevation gain.

Yea, it’s been a while, and rather than answer many individual emails on what’s up, what happened, and where are you, I figured that I’d just continue the blog and get you caught up on American Dirt NV/CA, and then take you into my next adventure!

With that being said, I’m going to call today my “Reality Check”. 

We got rolling out of Eureka at a descent hour, seeing that I had to wait a bit for the morning low of 27 degrees to bump up a bit for me to ride. So we were on the road by 8 AM, for the 30 mile drive west on Rt 50 and then the LONG 25 mile drive down this Monitor Valley Rd which is a gravel road in a basin. And let me tell you that drive was just forever down this road, a bumpy, dusty, ribbon of gravel that just drifted off into the southern horizon. 

Finally got to my destination, the junction of Monitor Valley and FR001. Now what I’d do here is to ride Monitor Valley north for 12 miles because the following day’s ride would put me back at the junction of Monitor Valley and FR001 - today’s start point. Remember: I’m riding the course backwards so that the ladies know where to pick me up each day. So, anyway, I needed to ride Monitor Valley Rd, otherwise known as Belmont Rd on the NV gazetteer, to the junction with FR004, which would take me across 2 8K passes and to where I began yesterday’s ride at. 

Temp was cool and conditions were ideal to ride - not a cloud in the sky. Got rolling in shorts with a polypro long sleeve top. Things felt pretty good other than my shoulder blades again feeling kind of tight again, something that was becoming more prevalent as this ride’s gone on. But nonetheless, I was able to ride at a good clip of 13-16 mph all the way up Monitor Valley to the FR004 split. Got to the split, bid the ladies goodbye, and was on my lonesome for the next 23 miles with two 8K passes to surmount. 

The climb began gradually, on some pretty good road, but as the miles ticked off the inclination became steeper, and the road deteriorated from a very solid gravel/dirt lane and a half wide road, to a one lane rutted out jeep track. No way in the world would the van halve come close to making this section. So as I climbed higher this stream on the side of the road began to flood over sections, enough so that in certain areas I had to ride across half a foot of water which was 8-10 feet wide. Then there were other areas where it was just rivulets of fast moving water anastromosting across the road like veins and fingers. And this was incessant. As I got higher in altitude this became almost like a flooding situation, and some of the crossings had this really silty muck at the bottom, so I’d have to shift into the little ring and just power through - or else I’d be trapped in the middle of the floodwaters having to dismout. 

Finally got to where this freaking stream veered to the north, out of and away from the road and the climb. By this time I was a good 7.5K high, amidst all this bristlecone pines, really quite beautiful and enjoyable - had the road not really pitched up even higher. So I got to a point to where the pitch was tough, but seemed doable, yet I just had no gas! And I’m thinking to myself, “man, this just isn’t me, what the hell?” So there I am again, hike-a-biking, pushing, stopping, breathing, over and over. I was just so disappointed in my fitness at that point. 

Got to the summit, and I was thinking, “OK, feel like shit but the rest of this pup is down, so I’m good. We’ll just chalk it up as another (yea, one of many thus far) bad days. Strapped my Gopro to me helmet, turned it on, and began the descent - which lasted about 10 minutes. But within that short descent I had to stop to carry the bike over freshly avalanched deadfall and more rivulets of now another stream next to the road, flowing in the opposite direction from the last. But as I said the descent was short, then suddenly I was on this plateau, and cruising over all these rollers and power climbs. 

Stopped, took the GoPro off, got the map out and found that I had a solid 6-7 miles of this which added up to a net gain to put me right back at 8K again. At this point the road was more of a sandy trail with shitty tracking for the mt bike tires, and it was just a ton of up and down rollers. Half way through this my shoulder blades, lats, neck and chest were just tight as hell, almost as if I just had to stop and get that freaking pack off of my back asap or it was going to crush me. And actually I did on several occasions stop, take the pack off and stretch like heck to loosen everything up. What’s more I just felt totally spent. So I pushed on, riding this high plateau track rolling, dipping, climbing, with an overall altitude gain the whole time. It was almost like torture, to feel so out of gas and uncomfortable and then to look at my altimeter and see that I’d only gained like 150 in the last mile or two. 

And it was at this point that I said to myself outloud, “Jesus, I just can’t ride like this for another two weeks. Something’s wrong here.” Seemed like forever, but I eventually got to the second 8K pass, and then began what would be a well deserved descent back into the basin I’d started in yesterday, and where the ladies would be waiting for me. But it wasn’t without some tough riding that’s for sure. I had this power climb/descents that took me across that stream over and over. I mean I’d look off to the right or left and see the track take this steep pitch up, then a steep pitch down and across the stream. Then…I get to a fork in the road where there’s this plastic signage on each fork: to the left dead end; to the right FR004, my route. BUT my gps was telling me to take the left. I’ll admit, that when you’re programing the gps to do a turn by turn of the route for you, YOU create the route, so somehow, I must have used that left branch to finish the descent. 

I know I’ve been blaming all the maps and Google Earth, and Garmin and all the other mapping apps. for problem, but actually when you program a route, YOU’RE the programmer! So when I open up the map in MapMyRide I have to use USGS topo maps, and actually draw the lines myself, which involves bringing the resolution up to as high as it gets. Sometimes what happens is you end up with this mass of tracks criss-crossing everywhere, so it’s hard to delineate what was your original main track, and what’s just these dead-ending wagon wheel tracks. 

So, that all that being said, I kind of figured that I screwed up and took the wrong track when I programmed the route. Thank God for the plastic signage. Took the right branch and stayed on FR004 and just descended like a maniac, wanting nothing more than to get done and get that pack off of my throbbing back and chest. Saw the van for about 2 miles up and just mashed it. My gosh, how sweet it was to see the ladies there, with the camp chairs out, just sitting in the warm sun cheering me down. Got to the van and I could barely dismount from the bike. I just leaned on the bars for a bit. Then when I did dismount, and sat in one of the camp chairs, hoping to savor another tough ride, I just couldn’t feel comfortable. It’s like my shoulders and chest were tight, rigid and sore. I felt nauseous and every so slightly dizzy. 

And I was thinking to myself, “you know under any other circumstance I’d have sat in that camp chair, drank an ice cold coke, sucked down a Powerade, and eaten something, enjoying the sun and savoring the day’s ride. But right now I feel horrible, I have no appetite and I just want to curl up in a ball and sleep!” So we got going back to our motel in Eureka, with me pretty silent in the back seat just wondering what the hell’s going on. Once back in Eureka, I jumped in the hot bathtub, figuring that the hot water would loosen up my shoulders and chest muscles. Well, it felt good for a few minutes, but then I began to notice that my pulse was somewhat irregular, kind of like beat, beat, beat, followed by a profusion of beats, then back to normal beating, then a profusion of beats. Was I severely dehydrated? 

Ok, time to play the trump card…call my sister the doc. Drained to tub, dressed and then walked outside in the parking lot so I could talk to Kim without Vic or Judy hearing the conversation. I just did not want to alarm them with what could just be assumptions. Well, Kim put me through all the typical questions, and agreed that I did indeed have some kind if A-fib going on. Could be dehydration, could be TOO much water and not enough electrolytes, could be cardiac issues, but she wanted me to see a doc in town asap, and sent me a list of everything she wanted him to check me for. 

Now remember, this is a town of 600 people, so there’s no real emergency or anything here, just a little med center with a doc and an attending nurse. So I filled the ladies in on the situation, and Vic got directions to the center from the motel desk lady. By this time I could just feel my heart beating irregularly in my chest, and my shoulders and back felt tight as banjo strings. Just couldn’t get comfortable, and tell you what, I felt the same as I had after that hypothermic ride the prior Saturday. We hustled in the van and went to two wrong spots, as we’d been directed. Hell, the people here don’t even know where the med center is? Finally got to the right building on the east side of town….and the office had just closed 10 minutes earlier!

Ok, called sis, told her of the situation and she told me we should drive to Elko or back to Ely where there are Emergency centers open, and get checked out that night. But me being the hardhead that I am, figured that if I was indeed really dehydrated again, that I’d rehydrate that night as I did the prior Saturday, and I’d be ok come morning. Kim wasn’t happy with my decision, nor were the ladies, but I did promise that I’d go straight to the med center in Eureka the next morning before I did anything, this just to see what the local doc thinks. Went back to soak in the tub while Judy and Kim had several phone conversations concerning me. Felt pretty descent soaking in the tub, save for the A-fib thing going on with my heart.

Wasn’t hungry at all, and I forced myself to guzzle down Powerades and some canned Progresso Chicken Soup. But other than that I just had zero appetite. Then came the sleep part, God, I just could not get comfortable. My heart is beating funkily and my shoulders and chest are so tight I just want someone to dig their fingers into my muscles to relieve this massive cramp. When lights went out, I was wide awake, uncomfortable as heck, and feeling really listless. I was in every imaginable sleep position, with no respite from the HR and muscle issues. Hell, I even went to the floor and propped myself up against the foot of the bed in a sitting position to try to get sleep, to no avail. This WAS definitely as step worse than that Saturday ride.


May 10: From jcn. of Antelope Valley Rd and Fishcreek Rd to CR-11 to CR-7/Rt-379/Duckwater Rd. Total mileage was 28 miles in app. 2 hrs of riding with 1300 feet of elevation gain.

Really easy, and relaxing day today…except for trying to find the damed start. Now as I mentioned yesterday, I’m doing the route backwards so I can scout out the starts with the ladies rather than have them hunt for the spot to meet me at the end of my east to west ride. And today was one such day where I was super happy to be there looking for the spot that I’d be starting at for a west to east day. I swear, I had to literally turn my gps on to do the turn by turn of the route, and then check out all these unnamed roads in order to ascertain where to begin. It’s just crazy how many tracks are out here. Had Judy and Vic been out there with the maze of roads on their own with nothing but the car gps and the gazetteer, they’d have had one hell of a day locating that road. 

Finally located the road, this by my gps saying that I was on course, but man, must have taken 1 hour to find this road - Fishcreek Rd. Got going at 10:30 AM and there was still a considerable nip in the air, about 53 degrees and full on sunshine. Felt chilly at the start, but heck, as I’ve said a hundred times already, “rather have this than 100 degrees in July!”. Descended down into the Antelope Valley basin and then began ever so gradually to climb up to this nose at the end of a ridge - Fishcreek Range. Felt really good today, with no back/chest issues. Maybe, just maybe it’s because I hunkered down the chest and breast straps rather than just let the pack hang by the shoulder straps as I had been doing. 

Had a northwest wind at my back and just this spectacular blue sky above and snowcapped ranges to my rear and in front of me. This basin and range topography is really cool to ride through, in that it really gives you diversity in riding. So anyway, I hit the low in the basin, and then began the leadout climb into the range. I knew from putting the route together on Mapmyride that I’d only be climbing 12-1300 feet today across 28 miles, so I was really just noodling today to enjoy the day and soak in the sights. No sufferfest today! The road just kept winding into the range, and try as I might to guess where I’d be passing through this wall of rock, I was wrong numerous times. I always love to look up ahead and watch where the roads are going, trying to figure out where the exact pass might be. And the one today kind of fooled me until the very end. 

These foothills out here in NV are analogous to any foothill you’d experience in CO, UT, WY, MT etc. Look, feels and smells just the same, but this is basin and range country out here, so when you hit a pass you can look to the east or west and just see the rows of basins and ranges spread out in front of you like corrugated cardboard. It’s pretty spectacular really. So I got to the pass, at an elevation of about 7100 feet, and then began this really cool descent down along this wash. And there were places where the wash was actually the road, really similar to the riding I’d done in UT down in the canyon country. 

Now what I’ve noticed on a lot of the descents here in NV is that they are really composed of loose gravel and cobbles, which makes for some pretty think, unconsolidated road surface. Means you have to be vigilant about washing a front or rear wheel. Got to make you turns nice and easy, kind of flowy, and at times letting the front wheel goes where it wants rather than making quick moves. So I really have to pick my lines going down most of these descents. The other thing that I have to watch is riding in wheel tracks on descents. The tracks out here are like fossilized, and you hit a lip of one of these going fast….ass over tea kettle you go! So I try to stay OFF of the fossilized tire tracks on descents, and instead ride on the crown or on the far left or right side.

So I had a great descent down to the next basin, the one I rode yesterday - Fishcreek Valley. From there I had a nice flat ride past the Fishcreek Ranch to meet up with Judy and Vic at the junction with Duckwater Rd. The ladies pulled in just as I arrive, so we were done by 1 PM today. Came back, soaked in the tub - maybe that’s my ticket now - and then worked my regular job and then worked on the next 7 days worth of segments to be downloaded into the gps. Later on we hit the Owl Cafe for dinner again, and were not disappointed. Great food for a little mining town that has a population of 600! Tomorrow is an 8K pass, so on we go!


May 9: From CR-11 to CR-7/Rt-379/Duckwater Rd. Total mileage was 41 miles in app. 5 hrs of riding with 2200 feet of elevation gain. 

Woke up to some blue sky and puffy while cumulus clouds this morning for a really nice change of pace. Temp was about 44 degrees. The ladies got us all packed up and we were off before 8 AM. Did the drive west on Rt-50 to about 35 miles east of Eureka to where I’d begun my Saturday ride. Now I had to make changes to the route due to the mud-fest I encountered last Saturday. This meant that I would not get to do the Cathedral Canyon descent, which is supported to be stellar. But to have to endure all the mud and mess…and quite possibly even more what with another full day of rain and snow up there, I still felt I’d made the best choice to just skip that portion and get it rolling on a different, less high and more dry route.

But still, we had no idea if even the low altitude roads would be passable what with the mess we encountered on CR-10 yesterday, so today was either testing the waters and finding wet, impassable roads, or finding roads both me on the bike and the ladies in the van could ride on. Once we crested Antelope Pass on Rt 50 I was beginning to thing things were good. And that was indeed the case once we got to our start point. I had the ladies follow me as I rode in front, and as the miles went on we were finding the dirt/gravel roads to be in pretty good shape. So I just continued to have them follow. We got on Carter Wells Rd - CR9 - and then onto Green Springs Rd - CR5 - with near zero wet road issues. 

The riding was in a basin along the east flank of the White Pine Mt Range, so there was a gradual up all along the way. Now I’d programmed this new route into my Garmin such that it would give me a turn by turn for the entire day’s ride, and it was working just fine in nailing each and every road turn, especially a road that is totally unnamed on every form of navigation that I have. So the ladies just followed me, with my van Garmin GPS saying that they were driving on unpaved road? Our next turn was on Poison Patch Rd - CR1, what was listed as Rt 373 on my GPS and as unnamed road on my van GPS. Now I say all this to really tell you that despite the best navigation equipment on the market (consumer market) it can still be a real chore figuring out where you are at times. Vic is getting a great tutorial on what a mess this navigating can be. 

So we finally got to a point to where I was going to turn off and get on some tracks that are a total no go for the van. And once again, my GPS pointed out the proper turn. So I briefed the ladies as to what they were going to have to do to get to where I’d end the day, and off they went and off I went. So I’m doing well on the track, with my GPS telling me I’m “On Course” with respect to the navigating, and then, about 2 miles into the nameless track my gps tells me to take a right…….right into the brushy desert? Turned around and re-rode the track, and again, the turn to the right prompt came up. But there’s bloody nothing there. I mean not even a faint ghost track to follow. The track I was on was THE only track I’d seen for those 2 miles. 

Well, I’d figured that I was ok so I just continued, and continued and continued and saw absolutely zero other tracks out there. “Had to be the one….right?” Finally, I went to the map and discovered that I was traveling south. Now that could be good, because parts of this track were south trending for small portions, or it could be bad and I was completely off track and just trending south all the time. Decided to continue and see, in a few miles what was the verdict. And by God, when I checked again I was still trending south by southwest. Said a few choice swear words, stopped, pulled out my map and tried to figure out my situation. From the best that I could recollect, I was indeed trending due south by southwest. 

So I could go all the way back and re-ride the nameless track to the junction with Poison Patch Rd (where the ladies had dropped me off), and then south to the Duckwater Indian Reservation, which was a butt load of mileage, OR continue south where I was bound to intersect with either Poison Patch Rd, or my intended road, Rt-379 - Duckwater Valley Rd. I decided for the latter, figuring I’d navigate by my gps compass and continue to trend to the south, southwest, or west, to where in time I’d have to intersect Duckwater Rd. With that decision I peddled on using my gps compass to navigate what was soon turning out to be just a spiderweb of all these tracks jutting off in a gazillion directions. 

I kept it south by south west the whole time, still feeling just a tad nervous about my decision to navigate by compass alone. Must have gone a good 8-10 miles of this when all of a sudden I came upon a main gravel road, which when I turned to my gps map it registered the road to be Rt-379. Yes! Made a right and began the trek north on 379. Went to the compass just to dbl check and found I was indeed moving to the northwest towards Red Rock Pass as I had originally intended. But…I was a good 8 miles south of where I’d intended on coming out onto 379. Hey, way better than to have retraced my steps and riding all the way south to the indian reservation and end up 15 miles south of my intended entry onto 379! 

Had told the ladies NOT to drive any further south on 379 than the pass, so I was pretty sure that they were up the road anywhere form 8-15 miles away. Now 379 was a gain of about 1K feet to the pass, and that was within about 8 miles of riding, so the ride north was all net uphill. Wasn’t a bad climb, but I felt it nonetheless, and was really beginning to bother me was my shoulders and chest. I’m thinking that not having ridden that mt bike in a year, my poor fitness this season, and that damned back pack I’m wearing, I’m thinking all that is really putting the kibosh on my shoulder blades and my upper pectoral muscles. They were just supper sore and tight today, so much so that it reminds me of the ultra distance guys and ladies who get Shermer’s Neck, a really sore and stiff neck for long hrs in the saddle with the head protracted. 

In my case I’m riding with my shoulders protracted for hours on end, and then add that backpack pulling against my upper pectoral muscles, my traps, and my shoulders, it makes for some real chest and back pain. Anyway, I was just miserable today with that. Hit Red Rock Pass in just about what I’d figured, 8 miles, and then began descending toward my day’s destination. About 5 miles later I saw this 2 black dots way off in the distance, up the road a bout 2-3 miles….could be cows….or could be the van. Now it was bad enough that I was pretty tired, and my chest/shoulder blades were just killing me, but the wind had shifted direction and was blowing double digits into my face, making progress that much tougher. 

Seemed like forever as I tried in vain to figure out if the black dots way up the road were cows or the van. Closer, and closer and closer until I find that the first black dot is indeed three cows, who when I get closer race off madly across the road to the west. Then I scope out the second dot, and the closer I got the more it looked like my van parked on the east side of the road. Well, turns out it was indeed Judy and Vic. Rolled up, threw down a quart of powerade, was told by Judy I just had 3 miles to go, and I got back on the bike to fight the headwind. Now the gravel turned to old asphalt, and I did my best to ride the gravel berm, but there were some long sections where the brush was thick with those thorns, so I had to ride on the asphalt instead. 

Those three miles were just plain miserable, what with my horrible pain up through the shoulder blades and into the breastbone and fighting that horrible wind. Judy said it took me 25 minutes to do those three miles! We loaded up and headed to Eureka. Pulled into town and got a motel, probably the best a town where there are only three motels. One is supposed to really suck, the second we checked out but the ladies were not too thrilled, and the third was their/our choice. They really like it and I was happy that they were happy. They go through a lot all day and the last thing I want to do is be a cheapie and put them in some crap hole for three days. 

Judy and Vic tried to help my back issues by giving my a back massage in the shoulder blade area, which was awesome, and then they suggested I soak in the tub to loosen the muscles up. That actually did the trick. Went to a great dinner at a little casino/restaurant - the only place open after 2 PM in the town for food - and back here we are chilling. The town of Eureka is really a cool little place, kind of this old western town that really has never lost it’s charm. I think we’ll enjoy using Eureka for the next several days as our basecamp. More to say about the town tomorrow and beyond. 

We did establish what I’d thought about for a few days now, me riding the course backwards in order for us to finish at a place the ladies have already been to, and for me to ride and navigate them to the start point. That way we could determine together if the road is appropriate for the van and if indeed we’re on the right road. Support out here is just amazingly hard, and the ladies had a tough time once they dropped me off today because the road they took back had some rather large pools of water on it, and then on the road they picked me up on today, that was totally unnamed road on my van gps, so they were really worried that they were on the wrong road for quite some time.

Just have to go with what works, so that’s our latest adjustment.


May 8: From CR-10 to the junction with Rt-6. Total mileage was 10 miles in 45 min of cycling.

Not much to report today. This was really an off day, though I did have the opp to go back to where I ended yesterday and finish that damn ride. We were near totally rained out today. Was raining when we got up, and it rained until about 1 PM this afternoon. The mts were hidden in clouds and it was just a wet, wet day. Felt sore today from all the bike pushing and dragging, but otherwise not too bad for such a long effort yesterday. 

Laid in bed working on the route for the better part of the morning, kind of coming up with a contingency plan in case the higher routes are all gummed up like the one yesterday. And now with almost an all day rain, I’m a bit worried even the low altitude stuff is going to be a mess. We watched some movies, then the Cavs game, and then with it drizzling here in Ely again, the ladies took me back to where I ended yesterday so I could get that thing out of the way. The 10-mile drive on the dirt/gravel road was a bit worrisome, in that there were several really muddy, slick areas that I kind of held my breath on as we drove to yesterday’s end point. 

Vic did a great job driving the van out to the start. But I have to say that I will not have them drive on anything that wet again. Just too risky getting that van mired in a mess out there. So I’m really going to have to do a reset on checking out this route and the road conditions because I was counting on the van to be able to drive some of the flat roads in the basin to give me support. This is a super tricky area out here for support, and I’m so thankful that Vic is here to help Judy out in all phases of the trip. I’d have to say this is the toughest area yet from the support side of things what with the weather, the desolation, and the logistics we’ve been dealing with.

So I got through most of this 10-mile stretch pretty unscathed by all the mud…until about the last 2 miles and then I hit this tacky shit that just sent mud, gravel and sand everywhere. Luckily I’d worn these garbage cycling stuff for just the occasion. But I mean I had sand and mud just raining down on my head when I could see the van just down the road. It’s like getting dumped on from a rainstorm when you’re a block from home on your bike. Dumped the junky clothing in a plastic bag, and then we headed back into Ely to hit a car wash for the van and my bike. 

Found one, where I inserted my ONLY 8 quarters and got nothing! I was going ballistic, and Judy had to give me a talking to so I wouldn’t get the hammer out of my tool box and bust the face plate out of that freaking machine. Then we tried the bill changer machine which kept spitting my bills back out, to which I gave it a  very loving couple of fist punches. So Vic had to go across the street to a quick stop store and haggle for change with some mangy dude who was sleeping at the counter.  This place is like the land that time forgot! 

Back here at the motel and it’s beer thirty. Until tomorrow…..Pete


May 7: From CR-11 off of Rt-50 to about 10 miles north of the CR-10/Rt-6 junction on CR-10. Total mileage was 36 miles in 5:50 hrs of cycling with elevation gain of 4100 ft.

Ok since most you you probably wont’ read this until tomorrow morning, on Mother’s Day, my suggestion is this: get yourself a nice BIG cup of coffee and reserve some time plow through this blood and guts story! So today what I needed to do was split up the route into two sections because to do all at once from where I ended yesterday, with no support, would probably be a really bad idea, as the total mileage would likely be close to 80-90 miles. In order to split up the route into two supportable sections I had to find a road to get me to what would be the half way point, thus making two separate sections that I could ride today and tomorrow. 

Well, I found it about 35 miles west of Ely up on Rt-50. It’s called CR-11 and it goes into the ghost mine town of Hamilton and then connects with the trail  I need to ride east today, and then take the west section tomorrow. Sounded good…BUT the stretch to Hamilton is 10 miles of dirt-gravel and it reaches 8K in elevation - all climbing! I’d hoped that the ladies could drop me off at the junction and save me that 10-mile climb to be done on two days, but that was wishful thinking. My best case scenario was having them get me in about 5 miles so I’d just have 5 of climbing to the junction. 

Second issue today was the weather, with the prediction of rain/snow all day with these little windows of good weather intermittently sprinkled every several hours. So I got up this morning and it was just blue sky and clouds in Ely. Checked the doplar radar and the weather report for Hamilton. Radar revealed this massive front of freezing race and snow just about 30 miles west of my intended route for the day. Hamilton (yea a weather report for a ghost town) weather said there was a period from 9 AM to 2 PM where the possibility of snow and showers was down to 25%. Between that window the possibility of precip was 50+%. 

I hemmed and hawed for over an hour this morning, tracking that blob of ice/snow storm west of Hamilton. It seemed to be moving southwest. Finally, with the sky blue and filled with puffy clouds here in Ely, and what with my good luck or riding between storms yesterday, I dressed and let the ladies know that we were at least going to go west and check out the area. If it was good, I’d go, if it was bad then we’d come back here and sit the day out. We got up there, turned onto CR-11 and it looked a bit iffy but I thought I’d have plenty of time to get the hell out of there before the weather changed around 2 PM. You could see that ice storm blob just to the west in Eureka. 

Well, we didn’t even drive down the road a half mile and I saw this thing get a little shaky further up the line, so I decided that I’d just have to bite the bullet and go the ten miles on my own. No chance did I want the van stuck with me or without me. So there it was. Told the ladies I’d be 3-4 hours - Hopefully - and maybe 5 hours if the going was tough. And off I went, climbing and climbing and climbing. Felt like total shit from yesterday’s ride, so that made things even worse. Man, the legs just were not there today. Looking at the GPS mileage as the miles ever so slowly ticked off. Got to seven miles in and the weather definitely looked to be falling apart on me. Then I hit these lenses of snow that totally X’d the road, forcing me to ride right on the edge of the road by this ditch. 

Went through about 3 of those and finally got to the ghost town of Hamilton. I’d gone through a lot of wet spots so I began having issues with rocks and mud getting wedged into this little open space on my front derailleur. Now I had this issue last year, so I stopped and got a stick to pop the gravel out. But then it happened again and again, all the way to the ghost town. And by then snow was spitting down on me. Went into this vacant metal building to find some kind of metal rod to use to pull all the gravel out of my front derailleur. Also put on my goretex and polypro glove under my mt biking glove and pushed on through the snow and freezing rain. 

Right out of the ghost town, that’s where things turned to total shit - muddy and water covered track for 2 miles. It was a total mud fest, and getting worse by the minute with all the snow and freezing rain. Finally mucked my way to the junction where I’d get on CR-10 and head east to meet the ladies where I’d finished yesterday. A little wooden sign indicated Cathedral Canyon to the right, and Ellison Creek Guard Station to the right, which is what I new to be my route. But the sign said Ellison Creek GS to be 17 miles, and I was thinking, “Shit, this could be a real killer if the whole track is mud choked, in addition to the looming bad weather. 

And just when I started up the right branch, to begin a climb back up to 8K, my bike literally came to a complete stop. Looked down and all this half dried mud was caking on my wheels to the point to where they wouldn’t even turn. I mean totally clogged front and back with this thick, dry mud-clay mixture. Stopped, rotated the tires in reverse to get the clods out, remounted the bike and within five pedal strokes it was at a complete stop again. Went through this a couple more times before I yelled “UNCLE!” “Guess I’m going to have to push up to the pass,” I thought. But then as soon as I started pushing, not more than 10 later I feel my bike come to a complete stop. I mean the wheels wouldn’t even move. I’d have to roll the bike backwards so the clods would peal off and then roll again. Did this several time more and it was just as futile.

So there I was, with a bike I literally couldn’t even put up the climb, and the weather just turning to total shit. Have to say that for a moment I just felt completely helpless. What were my options? Well, I could ride back to Hamilton, through the mud, which was rideable at least, and then descend back to Rt-5O. But then the ladies would have no idea what the hell was going one. Would they drive back up to my entry point? Could I hitchhike out and go back to Ely? OR…do I continue to suffer through the mud cake climb and hope the terrain changes so I could ride the bike again? OR do I ditch the bike and hike back?

Well, couldn’t ditch the bike, so my choice were turn around or hope things change once I get over that second pass. I chose to suffer on, dragging, pushing, cussing, carrying the bike up the track. My shoes were like 40 lb weight on each foot, and I’d have to stomp them off on flat rocks every 5 or so minutes. I did find section where I could push the bike over the rubble on the side of the track for a hundred yards or so, but mostly I was just backing the bike constantly to uncake the mud from between my wheels. Did this for 3 miles up the track, and by that time my ride time was over three hours. 

Thought there could be a good possibility of me doing a bivy in the mountains if that track never changed from the cake-fest of mud. Kept pushing on and on and on, and finally reached within about a half mile of the pass at 8200 feet, and by God, the track seemed to be a bit drying a bit from the lower section. I mean my wheels would turn without mud clogging up. So I cleaned all the mud off my shoes, cleats, and off the bike so the wheels would turn, mounted the bike and boom, the chain fell off the little cookie. Did the about 4 times and the chain dropped every time. So I manually put the chain on the middle ring, and I was able to ride. BUT I was in the middle ring and I just could not turn the pedals on that last section of climb. 

Finally said the hell with it and dismounted and began pushing again, this time with the wheels turning, so I did have that going for me. Just couldn’t figure out why the chain wouldn’t work on the little ring. Stopped to check out the issue and found this big chunk of gravel wedged between the little cookie and the middle cookie, so it was derailing the chain on every revolution. Got out this piece of metal rod I’d gotten in the building in the ghost town for digging out mud and pebbles from my front derailleur. Was able to pry the gravel chunk out and off I went. Topped out and began the descent, knowing that I’d have another 8K pass to climb before the 18 mile descent down to Rt-6. 

Was able to crank out the descent and then the next climb began. The track was still dry, so it seems as though the rain and snow had not even fallen on this particular area. So the climb began, and it was just tough as nails. My legs were just cooked from pushing and dragging the bike so that made this climb doubly more difficult. Finally got to a point to where the pitch of the climb was crazy steep. So much for my pride…I was off that puppy and pushing like hell, stopping every several hundred yards to catch my breath and take a break. God, that thing went on forever, and I’d see these other tracks going to heaven and I’d wonder if that was my track? Again, if one of those was my track, I’d be doing the bivy gig for sure cuz I was running on empty. 

After pushing that bike up the pass for about 2 miles, at 1.7 mph, I finally hit the top - and it started snowing and spitting freezing rain again, with a crazy cold wind. Dawned all my cold weather and got to descending. By the time I was at 30 miles into the ride I was at over 5 hours in and just cold as hell. My hands were frozen despite my glove, and my winter cyclocross knickers were just soaked. I had goretex rain pants, but I was at the point to where I just wanted to pedal my ass of and get the hell off the mountain. I worried all the time about the track turning to a muckfest again, but nothing I could do. 

Finally, I rode right into the sun and out of the freezing rain and snow. But damn, I was just so freaking cold it was crazy. And then, as I rounded this bend I see the van on the last ten miles of the descent, and there is Judy waving at me. Thanks GOD! Suppose I could have finished the descent, but I was shivering darned near uncontrollably. Stopped, thinking I’d just warm up and continue, but  I was a mess, shivering like crazy in the van despite them having turned the heater up to full throttle. Decided then and there that I’d better just save that descent for tomorrow and go back and get warm. 

I was wrapped in a blanket with my hoodie on and shaking like crazy as they drove back to Ely. Got to the motel, made a hot bath and soaked for 40 min, then showered and I was still cold. Vic and Jude were just awesome to me, treating me like a sick kid - washing my sodden laundry, making me dinner, you name it. Then they suggested some hot chicken noodle soup to further warm me up. I’m in on that! Judy drove to a chinese place and got me some Won Ton soup, a quart worth! It did the trick - I ended up pulling all the covers off me in the bed I was hunkered down in. 

Ok, so tomorrow? It’s supposed to be worse than today with respect to the weather. Remember what I wrote yesterday….Me 1/Weather 0. Well, we’re all tied up now at 1/1, and I’m not about to temp fate again if the weather is sketchy up there. If need be we’ll sit tomorrow out here in Ely, and look towards next week for good weather, which is expected from Monday thru Friday. And then there’s the section I would have to re-ride to hit the western portion of the track….well, don’t know if that pup will dry out in time so I may have to make an alteration. No way in hell I’m going to be pushing the bike through the mud like that again!

Stay dry and keep warm……….I’m out.


May 6: Five miles southwest Rt 50/6 on Horse & Cattle Creek Rd to Rt 6. Total mileage was 40 miles in 4:35 hrs of cycling with elevation gain of 2800 ft.

Was concerned about even getting a ride in today what with a pretty grim weather report for Friday thru Sunday. But this morning the latest forecast predicted heavy storms in the area beginning around 2 PM in the afternoon. With that I kind of hurried Vic and Judy so I could get going and get the ride in before the heavens opened up. They got me to yesterday’s finish area in quick time and I was on the bike just before 9 AM. Headed down what I knew was Cave Creek Rd, but on my GPS with the 100 dollar chip and all the high tech glitz, well it told me I was riding on “Unnamed Road!”

I know I bitched about this last year, what with all the money I’d spent on GPS equipment, and the latest in maps, and this main gravel road is still called “unnamed road”. I study each day’s route to the T, and sometimes I still get discombobulated, so the really no brainer stuff really gets my goat. Anyway, I took this the junction with what the gazetteer said is, again, a continuation of Cave Creek Rd, but the GPS says it’s Marshall Pass Rd. I still know where I’m going despite two completely different road results. At that point the road was starting to climb, and I would continue climbing for another 2 hours. 

Now the next turn, well luckily that was marked by the National Forest Service,  because again, my GPS indicated that I was turning on an “Unnamed Road”. Made the right turn onto Lone Pine Summit Rd and began climbing in earnest. The weather was still holding, but clouds were beginning to gather to the east, which is where the weather system was supposed to come from today. So I kind of felt this sense of urgency in getting to the summing and down the descent before all hell broke loose. 

Lone Pine Summit Rd was really just jeep track. And it was kind of soft from the recently melted snowpack, so I kept looking down at my tires fearing a flat. NOPE. It was just the supper soft surface. The track got pretty dang steep, forcing me into the little cookie in the easiest gear in the back, and there were times where I’d be out of the saddle and shlepping along at under 3 mph, about ready to tip over. I kept remembering my fall in CO last year and lacerating my medial knee, so I was keen to NOT creep over any big rocks going that slow. The last mile was just super steep and rocky, but I was able to ride the whole thing. Now don’t get me wrong, there were a couple times where I was so tempted to hike-a-bike for a few minutes just to give my legs a break, but pride kept me from dismounting. Made it to the top where I had this fabulous view down the canyon I was about to descent - Sawmill Canyon. 

Stopped for several minutes to put on my gortex and gloves for the descent, to snap a few pics, and to put on my GoPro hemet cam. The cloud cover to the east, by this time, was looking pretty darned scary, kind of blackish-blue, with the eastern ranges totally socked in. So I got rolling on the descent, and it looked pretty mellow at first - kind of like going up the initial rise of a rollercoaster before the big plunge! But then things really steepened up. Now I knew I’d be descending 3K, so I anticipated a monster descent. And soon enough it was. On the other side of the pass the road was covered in spots with lenses of drifted snow, like these drifts that were about 2-3 feet thick and 2-4 feet wide, and crossing either the whole track or damned near the whole track. 

The first one I hit brought me to a complete stop, about knee deep in snow, but after that they got slimmer and shallower - thankfully. Then the fun started, this full blow descent that lasted 40 minutes. I mean it wound down the canyon like a wild river, with all these switchbacks and dips on either bedrock or really loamy gravel, so I couldn’t let it rip, and had to feather the brakes. There were stretches were I was able to kind of look out over the amazing views that were whizzing by me, and other stretches where I had to keep my my eyes focused on the track in front of me. 

My favorite stretch was this point where I was riding in this kind of slot canyon area where the track was really all there was in the slot. The walls were several hundred feet on both sides. Once I got through this the track dropped pretty steeply yet again and then I popped out of the canyon and down onto the high side of the basin. Now this section I could just let if fly, and I got it up to a solid 30+ mph screaming down into the valley to the town of Lund. Meanwhile behind me was this wall of black, and the wind had picked up. Did my best to keep it fast to finish the segment in Lund where the ladies would be waiting for me. 

Well, I made it to the car with about 10 minutes to spare. All around us these massive areas were blacked out with giant sheet of rain falling. We did get some rain, but really it was pretty mellow compared to what was going on all around us. So I get some liquids and a yogurt and got rolling for the second, much shorter segment of 10-12 miles. Before I left, I had to tighten the bolt on my rear shifter hanger, which must have got giggled loose on the rocky descent. Did a short 2-3 miles of berm on Rt 318 north, then jogged left on the Preston Loop Rd, another 1.5 miles of berm riding before I got back on dirt, on CR-10.

Again, the storms were building behind me and the winds were whipping up higher and colder. Took CR-10 for about 5-6 miles where it deadended into Rt 6. Made it, and within 5 minutes of us leaving to go back to Ely, we got slammed by a couple good rain storms - lightening and all. So day 1 of what are supposed to be three days of rain, well made we it on this one - Me 1/weather 0. Watch, tomorrow I’ll get slammed!


May 5: From junction of Oceola Rd, CR-38 and SR 50/6 NV to five miles southwest on Horse & Cattle Creek Rd. Total mileage was 38 miles in 4.5 hrs of cycling with elevation gain of 2700 ft. 

Was feeling a bit better this morning with respect to what I surmise is a mild case of altitude sickness. Still feeling a tad punky with a bit of a nauseous stomach. Morning temps again in the 30’s, but heck, I’ll take these temps out here any day compared to the sizzling summer temps in the 90’s and 100’s! We got going about 7:45 AM to get me back to where I ended up yesterday. 

Now I had this brilliant plan that I hatched over the last couple days as I’ve been planning the way we’ll approach this route across the state, and I’d come up with a nice little “shortcut” that looked to save me nearly a day of cycling - based on about 30-40 miles of route to be cut off, and my current daily mileage. I looked this thing over on Google Maps and Garmin Basecamp and on Ride With GPS, and it looked great. Now the roads were unnamed but all the maps showed the same orientation. So I actually drew out a map, measured the distance to the junctions etc. and briefed Judy and Vic on my intentions. 

And off I went, having told the ladies that I’d be about 1.5 hrs at the most to cover this thing. So I got to where I’d measured the first right turn to be, about 1.5-2 miles in. Nothing. Went another half mile, and another, and another, and another. Ok, so maybe I measured wrong? Then I see this track to the right, and by sight, I can see it go far out into the basin in just the direction I was heading. Hell, out here you can see for like 8-10 miles in the distance, and I could actually see all the way across the basin to where I needed to exit. So I went right on this ugly set of dbl track that looked like wagon wheel tracks. 

Now I was pretty certain I was on the right track as I could see it off in the distance trending directly where I wanted to end up. Only problem was that I began to see two kinds of thorns growing all the hell over this track, one was like these long thorns that were ok while on the plant, but the dead ones, shit, they were like sharp little nails that are fossilized. Then the second, those more resembled a smaller version of the infamous sand burr, but not like three spiked, but more like five or six spiked and nowhere nearly as long and deadly. 

So I was thinking, “good move dude, you got yourself right back in the shit zone with all this crap on the track.” I mean there were dead thorns and stuff littered all the freak over this thing. I promised myself right then and there: NO MORE of these tertiary and quaternary roads to ride on. If it’s not named I’m not riding on it. Period! I was pretty uptight as I continued down this track, worrying about flatting out, or worse yet, just totally trashing my tires with hundreds of these thorns. I just kept a vigil on my lines and tried to do my best to stay on the crown of this track to stay away for all the dead stuff that seemed to gather in the actual tracks from washout. 

I was like counting down the miles and looking in the distance to see how much further my destination was. Then this bloody track does a 90 degree turn to the north. That got me a bit concerned, what with all the crap on the track. So this thing trended north for a mile and then be damned if it didn’t do another turn - to the east, and it ended at the well head. I yelled out a loud “SHIT!”. Only the jackrabbits heard that one. So there was no way in hell I was going to just bushwhack through all that heavy crap the 5+ miles west to my destination, which I had in full view. Had to go back and reride to track and try again. Did the whole track back to almost the beginning where I found another track, going in my intended direction. Got on that and again - a deadend. Did this a couple times until it hit it right and found a better track with much less of the deadly vegetation. Headed west across the bottom of the basin, and then back up the other side to Rt 93, and in doing so I was in my little cookie, climbing at like 4 mph up through all this loose soil, a combination of dirt and sand. God it was just miserable!

Crossed over Rt 93, rode a very short section of berm, and then found my next track that would take me to where I’d told the ladies to wait for me. Trouble was that I was 2.25 hrs into a ride I’d told them would take me 1.5 hrs. I was kind of concerned that they’d started looking for me in the van, fearing I was dead, stranded, flatted, or God knows what else. Thankfully I saw the van parked up at the top of this little horrible climb and there was Judy walking towards me. 

Told them of my fiasco, and swore I’d never do any more of those little shit roads. Looked over my tires and sure enough there were a good dozen of these pricker thorns embedded in the tires, though none seemed long enough to flat me out - probably thanks to Steve installing these tire protectors. Judy and I picked out thorns or a good 10 min as the wind continued to pick up to like 20 mph gusts. Sat in the van half catatonic sucking down a coke and an ice water. Had to put on my polypro top for the next section, which entailed another of my “shortcuts”, but this one was NOT in the crap that I’d just ridden through. 

No, this was an old road that paralleled Rt 6/50. I mean it was just below SR 6/50 and it was this completely disintegrated old road, kind of resembling Old AP road in the valley where it’s crumbling asphalt in some area, and then total gravel and sand in another. Had to climb it for nearly 5 miles up to a pass that tops out at 7700 feet, and then it joins back in with the state route. I’d found the name of this old road labeled as NFD-578, and it lined up with my GPS when I started. But later, Garmin said it veered off this old road and down into the brush in this gully that paralleled the old road. NOT! I just stayed on the crumbly old crap road no matter what the GPS said. Climbed at a steady 4-5 mph in the little cookie in the big pie plate in the back, with the wind at my back at over 20 mph. That climb took me an hour - to go 5 miles!

Met the ladies at the pass and slithered into the van like a half dead gecko. And there I was at 27 miles in for the day, at well over three hours of ride time. Managed to eat a pbj and down a water. Had to put on this hoody I had in the van to descend the berm for 5 miles to my next gravel road. Man, what with the wind and the coolness up at the pass, I was shivering for a good 3 miles down the other side. Finally warmed up after dropping 2500 feet of ele. Next up was a left on Horse & Cattle Creek Rd - which had a state prison just down the road a block, on this dbl lane dirt road. It had to be minimum security because it just had some 8 foot high fence with some barbed wire atop it, not that gnarly spiral razor wire stuff you see at most prisons. 

Vic later told me the guys were yelling to them from out in the “yard” as they followed me down the road to the south. Headwind had just become an intense, in my face, invisible foe that just beat on me relentlessly for 5 miles. We came to a fork in the road, where I had to go right on what I figured would be a road the van just would be good on, so I pulled the plug at that point. Were I to go any further south I’d be on my own for about 30 miles with no support. That’s the tricky part of this - I have to break up portions such that I don’t end up overcommitting myself to getting in X number of miles a day. It just came at the wrong place and wrong time of day, especially with the wind gusting and howling like hell. So I ended up with 38 miles. I highly doubt if I’d have been able to churn out another 30 after the way I felt. There’s no turning around out here what with no phone service nor any form of communication. If tomorrow’s weather is good I’ll shoot for this unaided section first thing in the morning, get aid, and then add to that about a 15-20 mile unaided section after that for my pick-up point. At least that’s the gameplan?


May 4: Robinson Ranch, UT to junction of Oceola Rd, CR-38 and SR 50/6 Nevada. Total ride time was 4 hrs for 34 miles and app. 3500 feet of climbing. 

Again, ooff. Man, I just don’t have that third gear I usually have in these things. Body was tired from yesterday and the 2500 feet of climbing I did. So today I kind of felt I was moving in slow motion. Felt like a struggle from the first pedal stroke to the last. What’s more, I don’t know if the altitude is actually affecting me (never really had trouble with it in the past), but stomach is not right and I feel like I have a slight head ache. Maybe…….I’m just getting old! Hate to say that, and in my younger days I sore I’d never use that as an excuse, but today, at 59 years old, I’m leaning in that direction every now and then when I feel like I just cannot attain the things I could previously accomplish physically. Oh well, on we go. 

Morning temp here in Baker was 38 degrees so again, we didn’t put the pedal down getting ready. Finally, once the temp had risen to about 50, around 8 AM, we got rolling back to where I’d left off yesterday. Judy joined me for the first leg on Gandy Rd. We climbed for a bit on another of the gazillions of false flats, then began a descent to the NV border. And like a dope, all of a sudden my GPS didn’t register the road, and I was wondering what the heck was going on. I just showed us riding in the middle of nowhere “Riding Southwest”. So when Judy finished, about 1:15 hrs into the ride, and well over the UT/NV border I figured out what was wrong - I needed to put in my NV/CA GPS chip. My UT/CO chip was useless once we crossed the border, thus my knucklehead confusion. 

Changed out the chips in my GPS, downed some water and Gatorade, ate a muffin, and I was on my way again. This time I was riding solo, with Judy and Vic manning the van. Now I had to get on this track that is Called “Old Rt 6”. I was a little leery of having the ladies trail me in the van, so I had them drive on Rt 6/50 and parallel my on my track. Good thing, because Old 6 because this undulating double track that would have been a total no-go in the van. I was working my tail off just to maintain 6 mph through most of this as it punched up and down for 5 miles. This was the first time in the trip I had to gear down to the middle ring. Once I met the ladies I had to do 4 miles of berm west on Rt 6/50 to my next gravel track - Oceola Rd, CR-38. 

Most of that was a gradual climb up to Sacramento Pass. Met the ladies again at a Recreation area/primitive camping area off the main road where they had a great salad prepared for me. With the stomach issues, I just did me best to get something in the gut, but not exacerbate the sour stomach thing that I have going on. At this point, with only 24 miles in for the day, God, I was just loathing the fact that I had to do what looked like a gnarly track for 10-12 more miles over a pass. Bucked up and got it rolling before I decided otherwise!

Started this moderate climb which just continued for mile after mile. This was definitely middle ring stuff, in the pie plate in the back to boot! Had to get in and out of the saddle countless times just to stretch out the hammies. Finally topped out at 7500 feet and was greeted with this gonzo rollycoaster descent which took me through the deserted mining town of Oceola. Again, glad a did not have the van on this one, as it was steep, steep, steep. The gravel was thick and rocky, and I was wishing I’d have worn my mt biking gloves. Down inside this old mining town, there was just a total maze of roads, so having that GPS on board was a Godsend cuz I got on wrong tracks several times. 

Right outside of this ghost town on this big bluff overlooking the basin below, the view was pretty stellar. Below was this low lying basin with row upon row of windmills at this massive wind farm out in the middle of nowhere. I could actually see the van way the heck down there, some 3-4 miles below. From there the track was pretty steep, so I had to kind of hang my butt off the seat down over the rear wheel just to keep a stable, and low center of gravity. Made it back to the van at the junction of Rt 6/50. Probably could have muscled through another 5 of 10 miles down in the basin, but man, I was just cashed for the day. Back we went to Baker for our second night of bliss!

I think I must have invested about a gallon of water between the drive back and as of this writing. Talked to my sis the doc and she thinks just maybe, since I’ve had zero opp. to acclimate to the altitude as I normally do when I just ride across the country acclimatizing along the way, that I may have a bit of altitude sickness what with trying to ride hard out of the gate with no acclimatizing. It makes sense since I have the signs of a mild case of altitude sickness. Thus, I’ve been doing water like crazy trying to get in more than enough liquids. 

Did dinner at a little place down the street that doubles as a motel and Bohemian eatery, a place that had no cable and a place we declined staying at yesterday because of the lack of cable. The owner was kind of pissed at us yesterday for blowing him off because of his no cable gig. Well anyway, the dude’s trying to be avant-garde, but comes off being a bit on the pretentious side, seeing that he has wooden stools, a cheap kitchen table, and very rustic surroundings inside - along with his selection of 175-dollar bottles of wine? Are you kidding me? Had a great burger, but….it was the cheapest thing on the menu - 10 bucks - which for dinner entrees was only 1 of about 5 selections. The rest of the choices were 15 bucks apiece and, in my opinion, pretty expensive for what they were - like a peanut sauce stir fry?  Ah….NO! 

Feeling much better right now as we’re watching the Cavs game. Hope to get a better day in tomorrow……..Pete


May 3: West of Delta, UT to east of Baker, NV. Total ride mileage was 49.5 miles in 4.5 hrs of total ride time. 

Again….oooffa am I one out of shape cookie! The morning low for Delta was 38 degrees, so we needed to chill for a bit longer than I’d like. Got things rolling out of Delta around 8:30 AM for the drive back to where I left off yesterday out on Old Rt 50. Morning was crisp, at about 55 degrees and nothing but blue sky. Got on the bike at about 9:20 AM. 

Judy rode with me for the first 45 minutes while Vic drove. Now disregard the spelling of Vickie from yesterday. NO dammit, it’s Vicki! Got it, and I’m going with Vic from here on in just so I don’t piss off Vic’s daddy the next time he reads this blog. To be serious, it’s just awesome to have Vic helping out on this trip. Man, my stress level is way lower than last year just knowing that Judy and Vic are together. You see Vic is Judy’s babysitter, and by God I don’t mind paying for it. Call it peace of mind for both of us!

So we were rolling up this false flat that took all of yesterday’s 22 miles, and it just kept rising up and up and up, very gradually. I’d check my altimeter and see that we were gaining feet 10 feet at a time. But tell you what, you can feel it big time. Judy stopped at 45 min in, jumped in the van with Vic, and I just continued up this endless climb, until finally I could see this saddle off in the distance. This was the pass, at around 6K, that led down into Marjum Canyon. The surface of the gravel road changed from just bumped but fairly well packed to pretty unconsolidated, and washing a front or rear wheel was in the forefront of my mind. About a half mile down the descent into the canyon I pass Judy and Vic, with the van shut off and they’re doing arm curls with Judy’s hand dumbbells at the back of the van. I just chuckled and continued descending. 

The loaminess of the gravel increased even more, and I did wash the front wheel once, where I had to just let the front end go where it wanted until I could slowly pull it out, gradually easing it back into the middle of the road. Just a bit of a heart palpitation on that one! Now this Marjum Canyon is just spectacular. It looks to be a blackish granite, or maybe a basalt. Whatever, it’s really a cool ride down through this canyon. Once I got through the steep, couple hundred foot cliff area, it was a balls descent, where the gravel just dropped down this rollercoaster-like, straight as an arrow down. The gravel was way better on this section so I could lay off the brakes and let the bike go. 

Ended up down in this basin and had lost a good 1800 feet in ele. Welcome to the Basin and Range region….up and down and up and down and up and down. In the distance was this massive salt flats to the north. Then it was back to climbing again, this time I knew I needed to make it over Cowboy Pass, at 5700 ft. This pup was a toughie, as it gained way more ele. much quicker than the approach to Marjum Canyon. At about 3 hrs into the ride, with me getting in 28 miles thus far, I was really feeling cooked. About 5 miles from the pass Judy and Vic were parked, and preparing a freaking gourmet tuna salad. Lunch time! I was so ready to be off the bike. Pulled out a camp chair, popped an ice cold coke and just slumped into the camp chair like I’d just ridden 200 miles. 

The temp was around 63 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and I felt like I could just melt into that chair and never move again sitting in the nice warm sunshine - after just 28 miles of cycling. “Man”, I was thinking to myself….”I’m a real piece of work here, just freaking dead after 3 hrs of cycling, and I want to get in 50 for the day?????” So I got some tuna salad in me, had some water, then somehow slowly pealed my sorry ass off the chair to finish the climb to Cowboy Pass. Judy and Vic were at the top cheering me on like I was leading the TDF. Little did they know that I was running on fumes. Then I got another great descent on really good gravel. That finally took me down into another basin where the terrain eventually evened out and my free mph’s due to gravity ended. That’s when I really began to feel the day’s effort in totality - sore neck, shoulders, triceps and biceps, tired legs, sore ass, goofy head. Yup, I felt all those things that you normally feel on a X-country ride, but I felt them way sooner than I’d normally feel them. 

I’d told them I wanted to take Old Rt 50 to it’s junction with Gandy Rd, which I figured would give me 50 miles for the day. But be damned if this junction would ever come. I’d figured it was 5 miles at one point. Then I rode that five miles, then a sixth, then a seventh, and then an eighth. Finally, after me standing in the saddle for way more time than I’d like, just to stretch my legs out, we hit the junction. 

Just leaned on my bike for a few minutes, savoring the fact that the day’s riding was over and bracing my tired legs. Pounded some ice water and we headed to our intended motel destination, Baker NV. Now as I said yesterday, this area is just so remote it’s crazy. So my expectations of Baker were pretty tempered in reality. Judy on the other hand just can’t comprehend why there’s not Super 8’s outs here, and no grocery stores, and just mom and pop restaraunts. I mean it’s BLEAK out here. So only three motels in Baker. The first was just ok, but the dude had no TV, you could only play video games and stuff. NOPE!

The second, Whispering Elms, was our choice. And really, for 66 bucks a night, when you’re dead tired, don’t want to cook or put up a tent, it’s a bloody bargain - “The best I ever had!” And actually this is Trump towers compared to the Bates Motel from yesterday. We ate at a Casino-Motel-Cafe up the road and had some pretty good food. Back here at the motel right now watching the NBA playoffs and drinking a Newcastle Brown Ale. 

We’ll base out of here tonight and tomorrow due to the really tough riding and the lack of civilization for the next 65 miles west of Baker. Our next town, city, site of humanity will be Ely, NV, which again we;ll use as a base for a couple days. Well, time for another beer, I’m out for the day……..Pete


Monday, May 2: Took way too long to get here. We ran into a heavy rain in KS, then in Hays, KS, the weather got even worse. Turned into a spring snow storm and I-70 was closed down from Colby, KS into CO on Friday night. We got up on the morning of Saturday April 30 to 8 inches of snow in far Western KS and Eastern CO. Took it slow and even into Denver on Saturday with I-70 opened back up, amidst a dozen cars off in the median thru the CO plains. Got to Drew’s house with a steady light snow falling on Saturday afternoon. 

Temps were in the low 30’s. 

So Sunday morning we were concerned about the weather conditions on Eisenhower Pass and Vail Pass. Finally decided, after hours of looking over weather reports and C-DOT info, to go for it. The climb up the first pass out of Denver west on 70 was wet, sloppy, and slushy in places, but doable. Once across Eisenhower we were suddenly in sun and temps about 20 degrees warmer. Made it to Fruita, CO on Sunday. 

Today we jammed from Fruita to Delta, UT, where I started today. Temps are quite nice compared to last year in July, 62 degrees and sunny compared to 100 degrees and sunny last July. So we got here around 1 PM today, got a cheap motel - they’re all cheap in this little town - and then I just wanted to get some riding under my belt for the day. My original plan was to begin with a full day’s ride today, but……it is what it is. Now I’d made a course change from last year when I ended in Lyndal, UT, this little pseudo-ghost town, to a new, and what I hope will be a much better route to finish American Dirt. So I’d gone through Delta last year and with this new route, I’d start just west of Delta for this year. 

We got our cheapie motel - the Diamond D - where I changed into my cycling kit and then off we went to a point where I’d left off in Delta last year. And as usual, the maps had a different name for the road than what was actually popping up on my vehicle and bike gps. The road is called Old Rt 50 on the gps devices, and on our gazetteer it’s called Marjum Canyon Rd. It was pretty easy to figure this one out…but God only knows what’s in store for us down the road!

Judy and Vickie manned the van behind me while I rode. I just wanted to get in like 20-30 miles, this in order to knock off a good chunk of mileage of this long stretch of “nothingness” that’s the 100 miles between Western Utah and the Great Basin National Park in NV. I rode shirtless with a strong NW headwind and a false flat that just seemed to rise for mile after mile. But wow, the absolute desolation out here is wild. I mean it makes me feel like a speck of dirt. The ranges of the Great Basin just loom off there in the western horizon, and seem to never get any closer with each mile I pedal towards them. 

So the setting was pretty cool, but my fitness just sucks right now. After sitting out nearly 4 months this past winter with a torn medial meniscus in the right knee, I just couldn’t even get a feeble semblance of fitness for this ride. So once again, even worse than last year, I’m just going to have to ride myself into shape. God, ten miles into that wind and going up the false flat, my legs were pretty tired. At rare times I could maintain 15-16 mph, and then at most other times I was slithering along at 9-10 mph. My shoulders were tight, my hips were tight, and my style of riding was slightly off and a bit labored. 

When clouds would cover the sun the temp seemed to drop 10 degrees, and that’s when the shirtless gig seemed like a bad idea. But I always had the van within a mile of me in case I needed to flag them down for a polypro long sleeve. 

Well, we got to the spot to where I wanted to pull the plug for the day, and of course that road’s name did not match up on the gazetteer with my two gps’s. But it was obvious where we’d have to turn to get back on Rt 50 to head back east into Delta. Got in 22 miles in about 2 hrs of riding. By that time we were at 4 PM MST. Came back to the Bates Motel, changed and went to the Bates Eatery across the street. Now actually it was some pretty good home cooking, despite slow service that seemed to rival a three-legged turtle in an ultra-marathon. 

I’d told Judy and Vickie that this place may actually be a metropolis compared to some of the places we’ll be in in the coming weeks, so get used to podunk! Tomorrow I’m hoping I can get very close or make the NV border and Great Basin National Park. Looks like it will take a 60-70 miler tomorrow to do that, and quite honestly, if the wind and the false flat is the same as today, I’m not sure I can get that bagged. I guess at this point I’ll just take what the body will give me.