Sunday, July 19, 2009

Diamond in the Ruff

Idaho.... who knew? Who knew that I could make it all the way from Virginia to Idaho. Who knew that Idaho contained some of the strongest head winds experienced on this trip? Who knew that it Boise, ID would be the hottest city visited thus far on this trip at over 100 degrees? Who knew that Stanley, ID would be coldest city visited on this trip while camping in 30 degree weather? We were told that Idaho would be a hidden gem.... that person was right. Who knew?

We had our final Build Day in Idaho Falls, ID. I volunteered to shingle the roof of a new Habitat house and dragged Nick and John to join me. Despite gusts of wind at 35 mph and a few shingles that were sacrificed to the Westerly winds, it felt so good to be up there hauling bundles of shingles over my shoulders and working with those guys. When is all said and done, I'm a fairly simple guy... I just love to be physically active. At the end of a hard day's work and a large appetite, the pastor of the local Presbyterian church invited us to his home for a BBQ. Over the course of three rounds of food and of course desert, I had a wonderful conversation with a local attorney about our trip. It was great to recall some of the random stories from different states.

However, I need to jump on a quick tangent. On this trip, we have stayed in more than 55 different churches. Ranging from conservative to progressive, there is a strong consistent theme that needs to be highlighted. All of them.... and I mean every single one has been extremely hospitable to our cause and to our group by providing a place to sleep and often a warm meal.

I began this trip in hopes of discovering a professional direction in my life by cycling 3,500 miles. To be honest, with 3,000 completed and only 500 remaining, I am still just as lost as I was at the beginning of this trip.... if not even more so. I'll admit, it's extremely frustrating at times, but there is a significant shift in my process of thinking. No longer is there doubt about what I can acheive or if I will be successful. This trip has taught me that I can accomplish anything. I have too strong of a work ethic and I care too much in order to not be succesful. My thinking now focuses on WHAT to do I want to do. So, where am I now in this search? I'm at the point where I need to relax, enjoy this last week, and trust that I'll find that calling.

Tomorrow, we enter Oregon. The last state. The final stretch. With a little bit of pain in my left knee, I'm ready to tackle the high desert of Eastern Oregon, climb over Mt. Hood pass, descend into Portland, chat with my favorite barista at the Clearing Cafe, see my sister and brother, and celebrate in the Pacific Ocean with the whole group. Thanks for all your support.

I'll end this now. I need to get back to writing post cards.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Colorado <---- I'm tired and can't think of a witty title

Loyal blog followers! Please accept this blog post as a formal apology for my lack of posts from this last week or so. Excuses? None, except for the hectic hiatus of the past seven days.

You see... sometimes in life, one needs to do the unthinkable in order to be everywhere at once. After crossing the entire state of Colorado, I officially dismounted by bike in Craig, CO, just a few miles from the Utah border, and packed it in the van for a few short days. The group continued through the Northeast corner of Utah and a portion of Wyoming, while I pulled a reverse Clark Kent- out of the spandex and into a three-piece suit, and flew to Portland, OR to be a witness of the union between my sister Martha and my new brother-in-law Bernie. What a joyous occasion to have the entire family in one place, and to celebrate their occasion with dancing, laughter, and possibly one of the most fun nights in my life. Congrats!

However, I need to focus this B&B blog on the trip. Our last meeting was in Kansas, and it would be unfair to deprive you of stories from icing of this trip's cake... Colorado, and its Rocky Mountains!! I could write for hours, but given my current fatigue, I think it best to write about the random memories and highlights from this wonderful state.

  • This is how we looked when we crossed from KS to CO. It was the beginning of a long 93 mile day from St. Francis, KS to Lindon, CO. When asked to describe Lindon, our destination for the day, Andrew replied "It's more like.... an area, than a town." Possibly the smallest community in which we've stayed on this trip thus far. It consisted of one church, a few homes, and a cafe that had no intention of ever re-opening. However, it places like this that I will never forget. Showers with a spicket in the back of the church, watching incredible thunderstorms roll in, and times when all we have is each other for entertainment. We came and left Lindon, CO without seeing anyone from the town or the church.
  • The ride into Denver resembles KS to to capital T. Flat, flat, flat, and windy. Until that moment where you come over the ridge and see the entire Rocky Mountain range spread out like a table cloth from as far South to as far North as the eye can see. The sight of snow capped peaks make the last 500 miles completely worthwhile.
  • One might expect to ride the last sixty miles into Denver in some state of euphoria while drooling of its beauty. My ride was overall OK, except for the wind, exhaustion, and ruthless traffic. Some of our co-rider were not so lucky! A storm developed, while the wind and rain intensified, a small tornado developed east of Denver. Riders had to resort to a ditch off the side of the road. Everyone was safe, but its at that moment that we all realized how vulnerable we are as cyclists on a journey across the country.
  • Denver was phenomenal with a build day and a day off in order to rest the legs before four days in the mountains. Its funny how a trip low and high can take place in one afternoon. As a former employee of Habitat for Humanity, I know that the most idiotic thing one can do on a construction site is step on a rusted nail. Guess what? I managed to accomplish it! Before you stop jumping to conclusions, I should clarify that I was walking through high grass. Regardless, a local Habitat volunteer, Jan, offered to drive me to urgent care in order to get a tetanus shot. All was fine, but I offered to buy her lunch at a local taco place next to the urgent care in order to thank her for driving me 20 miles. What an amazing person/story. We talked for so long, and she was so enthusiastic and encouraging as she was amazed at some of my recent adventures during these last few years. After maybe a little too much thinking time in Kansas, I needed someone like that.
  • Coffee and ice cream with Ashley Haas in Boulder, CO. Such a highlight! Thanks for showing me Ash's Boulder!
  • We biked from Boulder to Estes Park, via Lefthand Canyon and Peak to Peak Highway. It was our first real climb since the Appalachians. We ascended nearly 4,000 ft in maybe 10 miles. After being passed by a nationally ranked triathlete at the bottom, I rode alone up the pass with a lot on my mind about my future career. Wondering if I would ever accomplish anything great in my life, or if I would ever make any real change in the world, I noticed the irony. Here I am on a cross-country bike trip, biking up and over the Rocky Mountains, wondering if I will ever do anything extraordinary with my life. What a unique setting to have that type of an epiphany.
  • We stayed at Eagle Rock School outside of Estes Park in a canyon. A school focusing on reachig at risk youth via alternative education and cross-curricular courses. I mean, who wouldn't want to take a class like the Physics of Mountain Biking or a geology course on Colorado Rock Climbing. This school is entirely funded by Honda, but you won't see a single Honda logo anywhere on campus. Such an awesome place!
  • From Estes Park, we rode into Rocky Mountain National Park and up Trail Ridge Road- the highest paved road in North America at 12,090 ft in elevation. Astonishing views, a herd of elk, group dance party at the summit, and the best 12 mile descent ever!

  • I'm finding that it's quite late, I'm lacking wit in my writing, this blog post has become excessively long, and I can't find a climax for this post. Therefore, I just want to say thank you for all your support and the opportunity for me to relive some of these random memories that can so easily be forgotten on a trip like this if not written down. I look forward to seeing you all soon.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

KS.... forever.

I"M STILL IN KANSAS. Soon, soon.... I'll be in Colorado and I can't wait. Here are some highlights of biking 350 miles across this state.

1. We wake up at 4AM in order to beat the heat, so we are usually on the road by the time that the sun rises. Big sky, big open spaces, great way to start the day.
2. KS is not actually flat. We reached the top of of small hill and could see for endless miles in any direction.
3. Biking for 70 miles on the same road and not seeing any civilization.
4. We took the day off in Manhattan, KS which is home to Kansas State Univ. It was the first time that we slept past 5AM in almost a month.
5. After biking 85 miles in 95degree weather, sometimes a shower with a garden hose just hits the spot.
6. People are amazingly gracious and generous. Their enthusiasm leads to some wonderful home-cooked meals.
7. Plenty of thinking time about life.... ahhh clarity. :) It's about damn time.
8. We were play a game where we would sneak up on each other and pinch one another in the leg. After 5 hrs of playing, things turned sour. Let's just say.... someone swerved, my wheel caught their wheel and the end result was two very wobbly wheels. I felt horrible, but fortunately the Urban Bike Project of Wilmington, DE taught me how to true wheels. Huge life saver in the middle of KS!!! Thanks guys!
9. We arrive in town pretty early, so it's been a good bonding experience for the group since we need to make our own fun. Local towns have been wonderful in allowing us to have free access to their local pool. Plus, a wonderful person sent me a package with Time magazine and Newsweek on the Eastern side of KS... ahhh... so nice to have the smallest idea of what is happening in the real world.
10. I don't know if there is a tenth highlight? I was pretty impressed to think of nine. No no... I had one of the best night's sleep in Beloit, KS.

Simple pleasures in KS. I need some intellectual stimulation :) Bye!


Thursday, June 18, 2009


Someone described Kansas as purgatory. They were right. Hot, flat, and non-stop wind. In addition, my phone is currently not working and there isn't another Verizon Store until Denver, CO. :(

This is a day when I realize how much I miss people.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Missouri... Misory

So, access to the Internet is often limited on a cross-country cycling trip. The few moments that I do have are typically short due to the queue of people waiting to check their e-mail after me or the level of exhaustion that I am currently experiencing. This leads me to have limited opportunities to write creative blog posts.

Well, I have a few minutes, so I thought I'd briefly share a typical day in the life with you all.

So here it is... a day in the life with David during Bike and Build.

The phone begins to vibrate sometime between 5 and 6 AM. Within minutes, I start to hear the air leaving the Thermarests upon which we sleep as people begin to roll their sleeping bags and start to pack their bags. On a ten week trek, we can easily count the number of times that we get to sleep in a bed on one hand.

I've been designated as the group's barista. After stuffing everything that I own into a duffel bag and get geared up for the day, I scrounge through the host site's kitchen facilities to prepare coffee for everyone. We all participate in packing 31 riders' bags, gear, and food into a small trailer. The process is now down to a science.

Around 7:45, the stretching session begins with my second cup coffee in hand. One of the four trip leaders begins to pass out cue sheets with our route for the day. We soon mount our bikes and depart for the day's trek from one city to the next. The magnitude of our trip is too great for me to comprehend at times, so I resort to simply thinking taking each day's ride as it comes without thinking about the next.

It's awesome to be on a trip with so many different people from different places. While we stretch our legs during the first 15 miles, I often have a chance to joke and talk with fellow riders. Eventually we start to form various groups based on pace. The best part is watching friends become stronger and more confident on their bikes.

We recharge around the 35th mile with a roadside PB&J stop. We manage to find some pretty interesting combinationgs with PB. Who know it could go so well with Fruity Pebbles and Sweet Relish?

We average around 70 miles a day, so we start to pull into our host site in the early afternoon. Ernest Hemingway once wrote about discovering a country's terrain by bicycle as the most real way to experience and encounter the land. I believe the same is true for meeting the amazingly hospitable people that inhabit this place. People from all over are willing to assist us in our journey by giving us a floor to sleep on, a roof over our heads, and a belly full of home cooking. I'm often baffled by our generous people are.

The evening is full of chores, errands, bicycle maintenance, laughter, and journaling. I know a lot of you are wondering when I'll figure out what it is that I want to do with my life. Well, be patient, it's coming :). I can usually sneak away to make a few phone calls and share my day with a couple of amazing people back home. Sleep is never an issue after inflating my Thermarest and bunching up my sweatshirt to use as a pillow.

Simple days and joys keep me going.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ohio and Indiana

Let me just say that both Ohio and Indiana surprised a lot of people as being amazing states to bike through. Gentle rolling hills, Cinci, hospitable hosts, great weather, Columbus Indiana, Bloomington. The problem with that is the fact that my 7 year old hand me down digi camera finally gave out on me. Therefore, no pics from those two states yet. I'll steal some from my co-riders later.

Currently, we are in Illinois. We've now officially entered the Midwest. Yesterday was 70 miles on one long flat road with a strong head wind, no scenery, and thunderstorms. Perseverance.

Quick fact: I've somehow managed to gain 9 pounds since the start of this trip. Don't ask me how.

PS. We are at mile 1000.

Love you all.

David Kozy

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A few pictures...

SO! I know that I promised pictures, so I must fulfill my commitments and upload a few quick pictures before a 95 mile ride tomorrow.

This is Lee. He rode this route last year but joined us for a mountainous 80 miles along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The gang after our first build day at a Habitat site in Charlottesville. Peep the drywall dust.

All 31 of us as we are about to dip our back wheels into the Atlantic Ocean.

For now it is the Atlantic, but in two months... the Pacific!

This is our trailer where we load all of our bags. We painted it for the trip.