Slept incredibly well last night! I had bedded down in a small town, behind some ready-made sheds folks can buy, and knew the forecast called for rain. Sure enough, the rain came, and I just moved inside one of the open sheds. Urban stealth camping at its finest. :)
I woke in the morning, and made my way towards San Antonio, and a scheduled meeting with Helen, a photographer for the Express-News newspaper. We took some shots, and she was awesome. With our photoshoot over, I ducked into a Starbucks to recharge my phone & grab lunch.
I remember the first time I visited San Antonio. I was 5 or 6 years old, and we were on a family vacation to Mississippi. We stopped in San Antonio, and had dinner on the Riverwalk. My dad bought a rose, handed it to me and whispered, “Give this to your mom.” I did, and remember her expression & reaction so well. It was an awesome moment. It made me miss both of my parents very much, but also thankful for the memories I carry with me.
Next up, heading towards Austin, where I get to visit with some very good friends who just moved there.
Doing well, enjoying riding in the rain, and excited to be on this journey! If you feel led to donate to the cause, please do. It’s super easy. All donations go 100% to the three organizations I am sponsoring on this ride.
Well, I have a whole blog post ready to upload, and my uploading problems are continuing. I don’t have much time to figure out what’s wrong, so for now I’ll recommend you also follow my Instagram and/or facebook .
My Instagram name is: FreedomPanda. I am uploading photos and stories daily to my feed there, and it’s worth checking out.
My Facebook is: Dug Shelby
I will try my best to update on my WordPress, and maybe if I update every day or two it will work better for the loading.
I am currently in Alpine, Texas, doing well, eating pizza and drinking a tall soda. A total treat! I just got finished switching the pedals on my bike, and then stopped by the post office to mail some things home to lighten my load.
Hope everyone is well!
*NOTE: I’m finding it difficult to post photos where I’d like to on my blog, so for a steady stream of photos, please check out my Instagram (my Instagram name is ‘FreedomPanda.’ Bamboo bike = panda food, riding to help victims of human trafficking = freedom…yep. There it is!) or my Facebook. *
“Yesterday is a wrinkle on your forehead
Yesterday is a promise that you’ve broken
Don’t close your eyes, don’t close your eyes
This is your life and today is all you’ve got now
Yeah, and today is all you’ll ever have
Don’t close your eyes
Don’t close your eyes…” ~ Switchfoot
This has been a long two weeks, with final preparations for this trip, the journey to San Diego for the 2:00am start to this endeavor, to the last 6 days pedaling.
I would love to catch everyone up on the journey so far! I have actually written a blog post already, but that was two days ago & I didn’t have an opportunity to post it. So I’ll just catch you up in brief:
I left San Diego at approximately 2:00am on the 19th. I made it to Mission Trails Park, where I found a nice stealth campsite. I went to bed about 4:30am, and woke a few hours later, still tired. I rearranged my entire luggage set up, since I had never actually set it up until I was at Ocean Beach with Ryan Ross. (Thankfully he & I had downed some tasty-licious fish tacos & beer + had some great catch-up time together before the pedal-off. Huge thanks to Ryan for being such an amazing friend & totally ‘in it’!). I pedaled out of the park, and started heading up. And up. And up. (See Instagram for picture of elevation gain). Over 4,800 feet up through Alpine, Pine Valley, and Live Oak Springs.
Now, I have to make a couple of confessions. I am not a ‘cyclist,’ so to speak. Yes, I’ve used my regular bike to get around for almost a year before. But that was a year ago, and my job driving other folks around in a taxi took all that conditioning and threw it out the window. And that extra 20 pounds I gained? It was with me when I started this trip. I started at a solid 207 pounds. (When I got off the PCT this time two years ago, I was at 164). So my conditioning was essentially shot, I’m at my all-time heaviest weight, I’m not a cyclist, and I’ve never taken a tour like this in my life. So it didn’t come as a surprise that my body revolted once the trip began. Especially my left knee. What began as mild joint pain turned into a very painful swollen tendon located right behind the knee. Today is the first day in the last week that it’s felt better. Up until yesterday I had my doubts whether it would hold up, hoping that it just needed to get into biking shape while the other muscles developed around it to help support the joint. My hope is it continues to feel better. Hills, though, are not kind to it. Looking forward to flat land!
The people along the way so far have been amazing. From the other bicyclists down at Ocean Beach at the start, to the ladies having a Bible study outside of a Starbucks in Alpine. They donated $20, gifted me with a $40 Starbucks gift card, and the manager gave me a 12 pack of instant Via coffee packets. Amazing! And was it because I had a sad puppy dog face & looked needy? Heck no! I was in a hurry to get in/get out & get on the road…but THE BIKE! It stops people! Klaus & Thiago…you created a conversation starting machine. Thank you. In fact, as I’m typing this, a gentleman walked up to me and said, “Is that your bike? It totally made me smile…thank you!”
South of Boulevard, CA, I slept off the road 50 yards, and as I was just getting started a lady that lived nearby stopped, we talked, and she said at first she was concerned that I might be “an illegal” but then she saw the bike!
Speaking of the border, I passed one section where I looked right down on the border. Soon after, I crossed the Pacific Crest Trail and had a moment. Over two years prior, I had crossed the road right at the spot I was riding over, as I made my way northward. Here I was, now on a bike heading east, for the same cause.
As I finally crested the mountains & descended, I enjoyed the speed of the 6% grade to the valley below. And then I looked to my left, and realized I just passed a semi truck. Not just passed it – blew by it! I’m not sure how fast I went, but I loved it! The last few days had been full of pain, sweat, and pushing my bike on occasion up a hill or two. I’m pretty sure I was passed by several senior citizens with walkers. Now I’m passing moving vehicles? I’ll take it! Aside from watching for strong side winds, it went by too fast!
Just past Seeley, I was out of water & needed to eat. I rolled up to a nice looking but lonely house, and knocked on the door hoping the owners were home & could spare some water & shade. No luck. But the hose next to the door called my name. I thought they wouldn’t mind if a thirsty multi-state rider filled a water bottle or two, right? Unless they were bike-hating haters of happiness and life. Always a possibility. But at that point, I took the risk. I filled my bottle, drank it down, filled it again and drank half the bottle…then the owners pulled up. An ex-Boston police officer. I introduced myself, explained my water predicament, and did not reveal my loyalty to the Lakers & intense dislike of the Boston Celtics. Probably a good move. He said, “Let me get you some cold water. I hope you didn’t drink any of that water,” he said, pointing to the hose. “That’s bad stuff…straight canal water.” Oh. Um. Yeah…about that…Lots of canals criss-crossing the land I had been riding through. Pesticides, manure, lots of cows being raised (LOTS of cows!). I just envisioned a week of uncomfortable riding! Thankfully, I just had an upset stomach the next day, and even left some ‘cookies’ in the Algadones sand dunes the next morning. And that was all the effect it had!
In Glamis, I ran into Tom, a gentleman heading on the same route but aiming for Florida. We had an enjoyable time talking, eating, and as he left we said we’d stay in touch to check each others progress.
I’m now updating from a great BBQ place in Blythe, beating a little noonday heat, and feeling thankful.
Hoping this finds everyone well!
Check, Make out to:
P.O. Box 2823
Paso Robles, CA
Or check on this blog’s homepage for links. Thank you!
After many months of planning, researching, and even shipping a wooden bike from an entirely different continent: “Thru-Ride 4 Freedom ’13” has gone live!
I am currently on a train to San Diego, where I will grab a meal & a drink with Ryan Ross, a dear old friend of mine. After interviewing me for his ministry there, I’ll load the bike up with the luggage, check everything to see if she’s got all her nuts & bolts tightened, and dip the rear wheel into the Pacific Ocean, give Ryan a wave, and start pedaling east!
It’s been quite a journey to get this far, and I’m excited for what lies ahead. I’ve been fortunate to be able to share the story & the cause that I’m riding for through TV and newspaper coverage, and I’m looking forward to doing that more as I ride these next 5,000 miles.
The bike…what can I say about the bike? It’s amazing. Klaus Volkmann of ArtBikeBamboo (Brazil), you did it my friend. Klaus crafted a bike that’s not just functional & comfortable, but it’s beautiful and the best conversation starter ever. I can talk – if you know me, this is just common knowledge – and I can introduce a topic pretty well, but this bike starts a conversation like no other! And that is exactly what I was hoping for, because this rode isn’t just a casual, slowly meandering trip across the country. It’s a concerted effort to make as many miles as I can in a day, eschewing hotel rooms to save time & money, and inform as many people along the way about the issue of human trafficking as possible. This ride will test me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I want it to be a challenge, because the people I’m riding for are facing challenges every day. It’s only appropriate. It’s how it has to be.
So please, ride with me for the next 45-50 days. I’ll be posting stories from the road daily here, with photos & videos along the way as well. For even more photos, follow my Instagram account: FreedomPanda, and if you are a member of the Twitterverse, add me at: OasisProjekt.
Here we go…emphasis on the “we,” because I won’t be able to do this without your thoughts, prayers, and encouragement.
Human trafficking, get ready to get a collective fist of knuckles to the face. You chose this fight. You’re up.
Let’s do this.
Klaus Volkmann, co-builder of the bamboo bike I will be riding across the country this coming September, sent me this message this last week:
That meant one thing: ROAD TRIP!
I would be driving down into the belly of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Copa Airlines, a large airline based in South America. There, I would show my identification, and be given all the important paperwork needed for the bike to clear customs.
I knew that at this point, the bike was not a sure thing for being granted it’s ‘citizenship’…it was being imported from another country, from an unknown shipper (i.e., not a recognized or experienced large importing agent) and was made of an organic substance – bamboo – and that meant anything could happen. As far as I knew, if I got a Customs Officer that had had a bad morning, or for that matter, a Customs Officer that had a good morning but refused to allow the bikes entry to the United States based on material composition or a paperwork error, well, then, maybe the trip doesn’t happen on the bamboo bike and I’m left scrambling for alternatives.
Knowing this, I took the paperwork and drove the few miles to the Customs Office.
There, I was instructed to take a number. No one was there. No one else arrived. Just the customs officials. So I take the number – 28 – and no sooner had I sat down, than I heard my number called over a tinny, echoing loudspeaker. Sweet.
I produced my papers to Officer Kim, a very businesslike and efficient gentleman. He wasted no movement and spoke curtly, saying only what was necessary. The reason for the bike being imported? The value and how much I paid for it? What it was made of? What cause was I doing this for? I answered all of his questions, and after his last question he just stared at me for a moment…then said he’d be back and to have a seat.
A few moments after I sat down, he called me back up, and said everything was good to go, and that I was clear to pick up the bike. Then he looked at me, with a slight smile and said in a much less businesslike tone, “Good luck on your ride, Mr. Shelby.”
I was ecstatic…I raced back to Copa Airlines cargo terminal, presented my paperwork to the helpful and very curious clerk, and walked into the massive warehouse that opened up to the LAX tarmac.
Within 20 minutes, I had a forklift racing towards me with the package.
I lifted the package from the forklift, was teased by the foreman about wearing flip flops in a closed-toe footwear environment, rushed outside, and had to take some photos of the process.
I carefully unpacked the bike, crossing my fingers that the journey had not damaged it. One thing I could say for certain at that point: Klaus Volkmann is a master at packaging bamboo bikes for international travel! I had thought ahead and brought a knife to use for opening the package, and began the process…Finally, I had the bike out of the packaging, and in my hands. It is honestly hard to describe the feeling I had at that moment. It had been over 18 months since I had the idea to ride across the country, and began the process of finding the right bike, brainstorming designs, finding a creator for the bike. Now, through all of the months and all of that work, I had the bike in my hands. It was really, tangibly in my hands. It had traveled from a completely different continent, built with love and expert craftsmanship, and it had traveled thousands of miles, and it was finally here. It was beautiful!
I took it back inside to show the clerk, gave her one of the cards that I’ve handed out to a thousand people now, and thanked her for all of her help. After packing the bike neatly inside the car, I made my way out onto the beautiful, scenic Los Angeles freeway system and headed home!
The next morning I took it to the bike shop that will be helping me piece her together with all the right parts, and we laid her out on the ground to begin the process of seeing what other parts we needed. The shop owner, who had listened to me talk and talk about this trip and the bike, finally got his first glimpse at the bike, and he loved it. A fellow recumbent rider, he took the time to inspect the design, and follow the lines of the bike. He just shook his head, and said, “Wow. Wow.”
So there it is. The bike has finally arrived! Hopefully by this weekend, she will be all assembled and I’ll know what it’s like to finally ride a recumbent. But not just any recumbent: a handcrafted, personally fitted recumbent made from bamboo and reinforced with epoxy-soaked carbon fiber threads. A piece of road-worthy art!
Thanks to all of you who have been following this process from the beginning, and welcome to those who have recently found the site. Things are starting to heat up here, with less than 27 days to go until I pedal the first mile of the trip. Like any long trip, I will be using every spare moment between now and then to prepare physically and mentally, get my gear prepared and the bike fit, as well as work my usual 70 hours a week. Should be a very FAST 27 days!
Blessings, and I hope this update finds you well,
I have just put together an informational brochure that I will be sending to friends & family this week.
If you would like to be included on the mailing list and receive a brochure, or you would like me to send some mailers to you so that you can distribute to people you know, please let e-mail me and I’d be glad to send some your way. They are not inexpensive to produce, so I can send up to 5…
if you’d like to distribute more, I encourage and endorse the pirating of the material! ;)
Send all requests to:
Please Click On Item To Enlarge!
THE WELL HOUSE
BOMBAY TEEN CHALLENGE
THE OASIS PROJEKT
CONTACT INFORMATION FOR THE ABOVE ORGANIZATIONS:
THE WELL HOUSE:
1-800-991-0948, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PO Box 320796
Birmingham, Alabama 35232
BOMBAY TEEN CHALLENGE:
1 Chuim Village, Ambedkar Road
Bandra West, Mumbai – 400 052
Tel: +91 22 2604 2242
7742 Spalding Drive
Norcross, GA 30092
Tel: +1 615.712.4863
THE OASIS PROJEKT:
P.O. Box 2823
Paso Robles, CA. 93447
596 days. That’s the number of days that have passed since I first decided I would ride across the country to bring awareness and raise funds for victims of human trafficking.
55 days. That’s the number of days remaining before I pedal the first foot of the journey. The time has flown by, and with as much work that has gone into the project, the fact remains that I don’t feel as prepared as I’d like to be. Part of the reason for that is that I have been working a lot more than I may normally have. I’ve been very thankful to have found a job that has been able to not only allow me the opportunity to afford this trip, but also an employer who has graciously allowed me the time off. In this economy, that’s a rarity, and one I am very grateful for.
Still, I have been working a minimum of 70 hours a week for the last 10 months, and it’s taking a toll on both my body, mind, and planning opportunities. My training has taken almost a complete backseat to work. 15 hours a day of work, 5 days a week, hasn’t left me with much time to train. Before I took my current position, I had been riding daily – I miss that! I’ve gained about 15-20 pounds, and I know I’ll have to work some of that off to get to a good starting weight for the trip.
My mind has been a battleground for doubt and stress as well. While I’m very focused on my mission, having my mind occupied by work has had a natural and expected shift in my mental preparation. I had ample time before my PCT hike in 2011 to compose my mental focus, and that carried me far up the trail. I feel the necessity to complete this ride with a greater acuity than I did for my PCT hike. I’m going to be leaning on my ability to focus and prepare mentally over the last 55 days and pray that when adversity hits on the road that I will be able to embrace the challenges and power through them.
While I’ve felt that my training and mental preparation are off from where I’d like them to be, I also have felt that my ability to create planning videos, update my blog, and plan for presentations on human trafficking along the way have also been far from what I would have liked them to be. But I have come to realize that no matter how I wanted the trip to be set up or look like, the end result will be worth every hour of preparation!
So as I type this on my day off, and prepare to get out on my bike for a training ride, I try to put aside all concerns, question marks, and doubts, and just rest in the knowledge that what I am doing is necessary and good. My conviction and passion to help those that have been victimized by human trafficking will ultimately fuel me those 5,000 miles to the other side of the country. Many people have commended me on my heart to help, while also questioned my method…isn’t there an easier way?
Sure. But what fun would that be? That is…if you consider riding 111 miles a day for 45 days ‘fun.’
55 days left.
I’m going to unashamedly ask that you donate to the cause. Team up with me on this journey. Your donation will go to an amazing cause, and to three amazing organizations that desperately need our help. These organizations are working diligently and tirelessly to make a difference in lives that have been shattered by the harsh and violent injustice of human trafficking. I wouldn’t be taking my time and my own personal funds to make this trip happen if I didn’t believe in what they were doing. Please join me and help. The ways to donate are simple: via PayPal (all you need is a credit card or PayPal account) or via snail mail to the P.O. Box listed below and on the ‘Donate’ page.
Before you read one more word, click one more link, or wander off to get a latte refill, do me one favor:
Check out this site! ————–> WWW.GREATDIVIDERIDE.COM
OK. Back yet?
Gen Shimizu is the owner of Yama Mountain Gear, a company that makes some of the best, most lightweight and thoughtfully designed tarps, tents, and camping shelters available today. Yama also was a key sponsor for my PCT hike in 2011.
Talking with Gen after I returned from the trail, he told me he did not really know much about human trafficking before he met and subsequently sponsored me. He also told me that I had helped to inspire him to go out and make a difference as well, and that he would be riding the entire length of the Continental Divide’s bicycle section from Canada to Mexico…ON A UNICYCLE. You guys…I can’t make this stuff up!
Not only did he plan and execute the entire adventure successfully, he raised over $10,000 dollars along the way and informed many people about human trafficking.
I’m bringing this up and directing you to this website for many reasons, but a few are these:
- You NEVER know who you are going to touch through your actions. So make sure your actions are good, pure, and noble, and never get discouraged if you think you’re not making a difference in the world. You may be, and just not realize it.
- We can always use inspiration, and reading his blog from beginning to end is very inspiring.
- It shows what a person can do when they put their mind to something, and follow it up with heart and determination.
- You might get stoked and buy something that he makes, which will get you pumped to take it outside and use it, which is a great thing, because there’s not much better than sleeping outside!
I spoke to Gen recently, and as a further testimony to his ride, he is still suffering from the effects of an injury he suffered on the trip. This guy is, in my opinion, a hero.
So again, if you want to read a real-life story of a real-life difference maker, head over to his Great Divide Ride blog. And if you are an outdoorsy person who wants the best in lightweight, amazing shelters for camping and backpacking, head over to his Yama Mountain Gear website.
Gen was a major inspiration for me choosing a two-wheeled vehicle for this upcoming trek across the country. My prayer is he can inspire each of us through his experience on one wheel!
I hope this update finds everyone doing well and enjoying life!
The departure date (August 15, 2013) keeps inching closer and closer, and as it does I’ll be adding more to the blog. Also, be on the lookout for videos to start rolling on to my YouTube channel as well. Exciting stuff!
This is the newest version of my clothing setup for the trek from California to New York. Using my experience & knowledge gained from my 2,000 mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2011, as well as new research, my list has changed slightly over the last 6 months, so I thought I’d take the time to highlight the list in detail here. This will be as close to a final listing as I’ll get. For you gear junkies, I hope I don’t disappoint! ;)
I’ll start with the socks: I’ll have two pair of the “Scout” socks. A blend of merino wool & silk, these will be my everyday socks. I’ll also bring along one thicker pair of merino wool “Alaska” socks (below).