David's Journal

Day 32. February 1, 2006. 2:20 PM EST. American Airlines flight from Dallas to Hartford

We woke up at 4:30 AM this morning for a 6:30 flight from San Francisco to Dallas. Jared Oubre drove us to the airport. Stephen took a 7 AM flight to Colorado, so now it's just me, Corey, Bill, Grant, and Century.

I'm only beginning the process of reflecting on this trip. There really are not words to describe the experience. I'm very proud of myself and everyone for completing such an arduous journey. Each person contributed, and no one ever complained, even during the really tough times. Grant was the lead organizer and navigator. He mapped out the route each day, let us know of landmarks along the way, contacted hosts, corresponded with Richard Williams (our sponsor), and did an overall fantastic job of working out the logistics of the trek. Stephen was the old wise man, the most experienced outdoorsman and seasoned runner and biker. He was also a workhorse, being sure that all the bikes were in working order each night, fixing flats and greasing chains. He was never too tired to scout out an alternate route for the group or take the BOB trailer. Century was a mileage hog, probably running the most of anyone. He did an 18-mile run through industrial Los Angeles, and I still don't know how he did it. He was also a bike expert; at one point he fixed the Trek bicycle when the chain was skipping and making an awful noise. Bill was the executive chef. He cooked nearly every meal, and he did it quickly and efficiently. Anything tastes good after a long day on the road, but Bill's food was genuinely delicious. Bill also had an impressive positive outlook for the entire trip. No matter how grim things got, he always kept a smile on his face and joked with the group. He came up with some great topics to discuss to pass the time on the bikes, such as designeing a dinner if you had access to every single food, spice, and chef imaginable. Corey was another mileage beast, running almost as much if not equalling Century. I was also impressed by his willingness to help the group, even though he had not spent much time in the outdoors or on a bicycle. He was aways the first to volunteer to wash dishes or fill water bottles. As for myself, I feel good that I made up for my lack of running by pulling the BOB trailer for most of the journey. I also like to think that I helped keep the group focused when people were too tired to do bike maintenance or too exhausted to get up and start another day on the road.

I'm also extremely proud of the traveling technique we invented. With 5 bikes and 6 guys, it's not entirely obvious what is the best way to travel. After the first day of our voyage, we realized that if all six of us traveled in one group, our pace would be limited by that of the runner, who generally traveled about eight miles per hour, much slower than our speed on bicycles, which was about fifteen miles per hour. To maximize our traveling speed, we developed a relay system that allowed us to go about ten miles per hour. The relay operated such that the first runner began running with one biker while the other bikers rode ahead a predetermined distance, usually about ten miles, that was measured using the odometer on one of the bikes. Once the bikers rode ten miles to the endpoint of the first running segment, one of them would dismount from their bicycle and begin running the second segment before the first runner finished. One or two bikers would accompany this second runner while at least one person waited beside the trail or road with a bike for the first runner. Once the first runner finished, he mounted the bicycle that awaited him and rode hard to catch and pass the second runner before he finished his segment. Meanwhile, other bikers rode ahead to the endpoint of the second segment and sent out a third runner to run the third segment, again before the second runner finished. In this leap-frog fashion, we covered ground much more efficiently than we would if we all remained together. I think that our mode of travel could be used for races or similar events.

Despite the physical challenge of the trip, we did not neglect the scholarly purpose of our voyage. We visited many missions along the way in addition to the Casa Grande monument. We learned how the Spanish missionaries attracted Indians with food and worked to convert them to Christianity. We met Don Garrate, Anza impersonator, and had a fascinating discussion with him about the 1775-76 expedition. We followed Anza's trail as closely as possible and saw many plaques along the way marking expedition camps and mountain passes that he traversed. I just finished reading Pedro Font's journal (Font was the expedition chaplain), which was rather dull but provided insight into the distances traveled and obstacles encountered by the colonists. I hope to read Anza's jounral when I get back to Williams.

Another great part of the trip was the beauty of nature we witnessed. We started in the desolate Sonoran desert and traversed seemingly endless, pancake flat roads, some of them paralleling highways, others cutting through wide expanses of sand and cacti. Some of the roads were quite sandy, making biking very difficuly, especially with the BOB. What was really amazing was that the transition from hot, dusty desert to cool highlands was accomplished in one day. After our long hike through Coyote Canyon, we arrived in a totally different highland environment with grass, trees, and cooler temperatures. A few days later, we climbed over the mountains and decsended to the Pacific Ocean at Laguna Beach, where there were tons of people, stores, roads, and palm trees. The rest of the trip, we were never far from civilization. We traveled through some rural areas before we got to San Francisco around Paso Robles and Salinas, but nothing as extreme as the Arizona desert. San Francisco is a wonderful city, and I'm pleased we got to spend a couple days there. I wouldn't mind living there for a while--it seemed like a liberal, fit, and clean city.

Although it is disappointing that I didn't get to run as much as I had hoped this trip, I'm proud of myself for not pushing it and finishing the trip pain-free. Now I can start building mileage again and get ready for outdoor track. I have plenty of time to get in good shape again and run well this spring. I'm looking forward to the spring break trip, which is in San Diego this year. Perhaps we will be able to visit Reena, who has her primary residence there.

Tonight we will arrive in Hartford, Connecticut and have dinner at Grant's house. I can't wait to meet the famous Bill Burgess. Then we'll drive up to Williams. I have a tutorial meeting at 9:55 AM tomorrow. I need to but textbooks, get all my school supplies organized, and write the paper that will conclude the winter study project. I think the next few days will feel pretty weird as I adjust back to Williams life.