Friday, June 30, 2006

Day Fourteen Route

Courtesy of
Map of Big Fix Day Fourteen

Day Thirteen Route

Pueblo, CO, to Eads, CO
Click to see more info, courtesy of
Map of Big Fix Day Thirteen

Day 14: A Prairie Flower

Day 14 was another hot day on the prairie--104 miles from Eads, CO, to Scott City, KS. Once again, the scenery left much to be desired, so we concentrated on pacelining and working together against a nagging 3/4 headwind that dogged us all day. Lunch and dinner were provided by a Histio family who travelled all the way from Nebraska to feed us! Check out the photos below--their daughter, Claire, led us out from the lunch stop. Claire was diagnosed with Histiocytosis in several parts of her body, but is doing fine now. Big Fix rider Ken consulted on her case, as he does for many hundreds of Histio cases each year.
Today also saw the long arm of the law descend on the Big Fix ... We were just leaving Wichita County when the local sheriff pulled us over to let us know that our 3- or 4-abreast paceline (echeloning into that 3/4 headwind) had generated a few complaints. We tried to keep everything nice, but he ended up cuffing Bo. We begged, pleaded, and told him about the purpose of the ride, and he let Bo go with a warning and a request never to come back to Wichita County.*

* Bo didn't really get arrested.

Day 13: The Incredible Flatness of Being

Day 13 marked our first real day on the Great Plains. After a great breakfast at the Methodist Church (Thank you!) we headed east, and it became clear very soon that the spectacular scenery of the past 12 days were behind us, and the Big Fix's challenge would become mental as well as physical. We passed through several small towns, including two where we were treated to lunch (Sugar City) and a rest stop (Haswell).
We also saw one of the nicest outhouses anywhere--part of the "Prairie Horizons Trail," a bike route through the prairie. Check out the photos.
Today was also the first opportunity in some time to get the entire Big Fix crew together in a paceline. We were joined on the ride by pastors Steve and Gary, who rode with us and who were both trying out their first 100-mile rides. With the assistance of all the BF riders (except Mojo, whose inner muse said "sprint!"), they made it to Eads--sore, but with their first centuries.
Arriving in Eads, we showered at the fairgrounds and then had dinner provided by members of Gary's church--sloppy joes, chips, and lots of cake and ice cream for dessert.
After dinner, we watched a huge thunderhead develop to the southeast; it was gone the next morning.
The Hard As Nails award went to Ricky G, who has truly been HAN since the beginning of the ride. The SAG award--in this case, "Solo And Gone" went to Mojo, in recognition of his 100-mile breakaway effort.
Four riders--Greg, Ricky, Mojo, and Eric--remained "EFI" after today's ride.

Scott City!

3:30 local time (Central) and we have arrived in Scott City. More info later.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Day Twelve Route

Lots of downhill today--just one notable climb halfway along.
How do we get these maps? Eric (BF blogger) is using a Garmin 205 cyclecomputer, which uses GPS positioning to determine speed, distance, elevation, etc. The 205 also stores the route we have travelled. That route is uploaded to, where it is made available for you to see.
Map of Big Fix Day Twelve
Courtesy of

Day Eleven Route

Up and over the Continental Divide!
Click on the image and check out the elevation profile. It's brutal.
Map of Big Fix Day Eleven

Finding That Sweet Spot ...

It shouldn't be any surprise to hear that all of the riders are suffering to some extent from, well, sore butts. We've put in more than 1,300 miles on fixed gears since we started, most of that sitting in the saddle, and with all the movement down there it's only natural that chafing and soreness happen. It's amazing how the normal concerns of daily life become less and less important, and you find out what really matters: finding the right way to sit on your saddle, making sure you have enough water and drink mix in your bottles, knowing where the top of the next hill is, and where the next rest stop will be. Anything else simply doesn't matter.
A word about one of our sponsors: Without the amazing lubricating power of Friction Zone from our sponsor, Brave Soldier, we would be in a world of hurt ...

Day Twelve Awards

Who won what today? Well, Kevin passed the Hard As Nails to Steve, in recognition of his hard work over the past week and his contributions to the Big Fix peloton. Steve then handed the Nail to Greg, in recognition of his great riding and generous assistance to all of the riders.
The Biggest Sag trophy was handed to Mojo and Eric, in the hope that they would use it to tie their bicycles together for even more effective paceline leadership.

... And Now, a Word About Our Support Crew

The Big Fix would simply not be possible without the dedicated hard work of the support crew that has followed us on our trip, setting up rest stops in the middle of barren wastelands, buying groceries, helping with luggage, and generally doing all the things the riders are too tired to do. Our crew has included Christie, Sandy, Kim, Lauren, Missy, Kevin (also our videographer), Joan, Ken, and Jim. Jeff Towhill, president of the Histiocytosis Association of America, has also come along to help out and see how the event is going.
Here are photos of most of the crew...we'll fill in the rest in a future post.

Day Twelve: Down From the Mountain

Today, we descended out of the last tall mountains that the Big Fix will see, completing the descent that began yesterday when we crested the Continental Divide and ended the day in Salida, Colorado. Our day began with a sumptuous breakfast cooked for us by Jenny, wife of rider Steve. It was a delicious way to start the day.
Day 12 began a series of flat or mildly downhill days that will continue through the Great Plains. At the same time, the scenery changed--we started the day riding through the Arkansas River canyon, and ended in what is essentially the western shore of the Great Plains. No more soaring mountains or sculpted mesas for us ...
At about the halfway point, we stopped at Royal Gorge to see the world's highest suspension bridge--1,053 feet over the Arkansas River. It was a great, relaxing interlude.
The weather once again smiled on us--rain threatened, and we were sprinkled on at Royal Gorge, but we once again remained blessedly dry.
In Pueblo, we were hosted to dinner by the great people at the First United Methodist Church. Afterwards, most of the riders and a few friends and family went out for dessert--we riders in particular have acquired an amazing ability to eat, and eat, and eat.
We were joined at dinner by young Darryl McPadden, who recently underwent back surgery to correct damage in her spine caused by Histiocytosis. In one of the photos below, she shows what happens when you eat too much cotton candy ...
Today was the last day of riding for Steve, who rode with us for the past seven days. Steve will be taking a few days off the bike to let his nether regions heal up.
Tomorrow: More mildly downhill riding to Eads, Colorado.

Day 12: Royal Gorge

We are at Royal Gorge right now--stopping for some sightseeing. Downhill from here to Pueblo!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Day Eleven: Hard As Nails Update

Today's recipient was not a rider, but someone who nevertheless has been crucial to the success of the Big Fix: our videographer, Kevin
Much more than just shooting hours and hours of video, Kevin has been critical to keeping all of the many pieces of the ride together. He is a human dynamo who has earned the respect of everyone on the ride.
Congratulations, Kevin!

Big Fix Day Eleven: Over the Continental Divide

Today we rode 128 miles from Montrose to Salida, Colorado, crossing the Continental Divide at 11,312 feet and officially entering the Atlantic portion of the United States. But that's jumping ahead. Here are a few things that happened along the way:
  • First, we started the day joined by several local riders (on gearly bikes) including Tom Barrett, who provided our meal in Montrose last night. We promptly rode into a stiff (20-30 mph) headwind that dogged our progress for the next two hours or so.
  • Ducking out of the wind, we stopped for pie at Pleasant Valley, again treated by local riders. The pie was delicious.
  • As we rode toward Gunnison, CO, hometown of Big Fix rider Ricky G, we saw some 1,200 riders on the other side of the road doing a leg of the Bicycle Tour of Colorado. Many of them gave us a "Big Fix!" shoutout as we rode by.
  • Lunch in Gunnison was provided by local riders (Thanks!), many of whom joined us for the second part of our ride from Gunnison to Monarch Pass (the Continental Divide). While we were in Gunnison, we also visited Ricky's bike shop, Tuneup Bike and Ski Shop. Great shop!
  • Leaving Gunnison, the paceline was zipping along Hwy 50 when a large hubcap became detached from a motor home coming the opposite direction. Like a manic UFO, the hubcap careened toward the peloton at a high rate of speed, eventually striking one rider's bike. Miraculously, noone was injured, and the damage was limited to a bent chainring and a ruined front tire. The same Somebody who has kept the Big Fix free of major mishaps was on the job again today.
  • With that event out of the way, we proceeded on the long, 30-mile run-in to the start of the climb to Monarch Pass at Sargents. The group quickly spread out, but at the end almost all of the BF riders made it up the long, long climb to the top. We checked out the gift shop, sipped hot chocolate, and then continued across the Divide and down the other side to Salida.
Tomorrow: A fairly short (about 90 miles) flat day to Pueblo, Colorado.
Enjoy the photos!