Winds, water and words


This last week has been a humbling experience – with regard to the weather and the goal I have. I’ve learned I have to be acutely aware of the weather and that wind is a foe. I’ve learned that everyone I talk to about New Beginnings Work understands and thinks giving a helping hand to those released from prisons and jails is good. Getting donations, though, is harder, so if you can, please go to this link and consider a donation-all the funds will be divided equally among the 4 non profits.

Because of weather and terrain, I hired a driver from Uber to take me from Lubbock to Austin, then rented a car to drive myself to New Orleans 2 days later. I was able to cycle around northeast New Orleans. Damage from the hurricane is still apparent – large empty lots, dilapidated streets, damaged empty buildings. Along a canal I saw a number of people fishing. I tried to find a way to get to the trail on the levee for Lake Pontchartrain (rebuilt and reinforced) and asked a woman – Mabel – how. She lamented that there are now no steps up to it like there used to be so people can’t easily stroll, fish and so forth without going several miles to find an entrance. I went to the French Quarter the next day by bus and got a nice walk in, enjoying the music in the streets from the bars and restaurants. (I’ve heard “Elvira” twice – once at a karaoke bar in NOLA, the second time while cycling past a biker’s bar in Alabama).

As I headed east from New Orleans to Bay St. Lewis, the dreaded headwind was there. After about 20 miles I came upon Rigolets Bay and Seafood. Shanna was so friendly and wouldn’t let me pay for my peanuts and soda and offered to refill my water bottles. She and Bryant both talked about how the wind kept all the fishermen out that day (except for 1). I have something in common with people who fish. We don’t like wind! Shanna told me of many bridges ahead over many bayous and I rode for easily another 20 miles or so in isolation with trees at times blocking some of the wind.

When I left Bay St. Louis the next morning, an intimidating bridge awaited. At least it had a walking/bike lane. The wind was fierce and it was drizzling. As I hit Pass Christian and Gulfport, I knew I couldn’t make it to Moss Point since it took me 4 hours to go 23 miles (should have taken about 2 hours with no wind). I saw Maryland tags on a car and stopped to talk to the couple sitting on a bench looking at the Gulf of Mexico – a couple from Chestertown on a road trip. We chatted for a while and they were interested in New Beginnings Work, knowing nothing about prisons and rehabilitation programs. As we talked more, they became very supportive of the mission. Energized a bit by the conversation, I lasted another 90 minutes or so before calling a cab.

Yesterday was a short day – under 40 miles – and headwinds of 10-12 mph were manageable. Katy at a Chevron in Big Point Mississippi told me how to avoid a bridge closure. I passed a herd of cows/steers and got the look. 2 tiny dogs tried to chase me (really?). About 25 miles later at a tiny rest area in Alabama, Justin approached me. He was curious about my loaded up bicycle. (He and his wife are cyclists). After talking a bit, I found another believer in the benefits of these rehabilitation programs. One person at a time, one day at a time, the journey will continue even though I am feeling a bit beaten back by the weather.

I’m changing my route to Pensacola, though, staying more inland. Gulf breezes are only pleasant when one is on the beach or strolling.

Beauty, wild winds and kind people

Over 6 days the journey has had ups and downs (couldn’t resist). Leaving Albuquerque was joyous since there was a great send-off with representatives from Wings for Life and Crossroads for Women and a few more friends.

East of Albuquerque Emily joined me for 2 days, each of which involved a lot of elevation – over 2100 feet one day, just under 2000 the second – hard for me with all the bike weight. On day 2 we met a couple from San Antonio TX – both cyclists – and they were interested in the story of New Beginnings Work (that’s them in the photo with me). On day 3, which I call “tiny black bug” day, I rode from Vaughn to Ft. Sumner. I was pretty much alone with my thoughts and music in my head as there were only occasional vehicles. Animals, especially cows and steers, stopped and stared. At the halfway point, in Yeso, I had lunch sitting on a wobbly stool that I’m carrying and wondering what this ghost town was like when there were people.

In Ft. Sumner, a small town but with many closed businesses, it was late and there was no place to replenish water. The kind manager of the Super 8 loaded up all my water containers from his 5 gallon water bottle. Tap water in the southwest often tastes metallic and I didn’t want to ride back 2 miles to get water at an Allsup’s gas station.

I was panicked that night about the wind forecast (that included 40 mph gusts) for Day 4 so left Ft. Sumner at 7 am, arriving at my next destination – Clovis NM – around 2, with my lunch break in Melrose at another Allsup’s (this time, with people, not ghosts). An Albuquerque family asked me where I was going. The mother, Sheila, told me that her family offered shelter to a woman who had been released from jail and had no where to go so she went to the closest church (Sheila’s church). With this family’s help, AA/NA meetings and the support of the church, she turned her life around and is now in the medical profession with her own family.

This story is being told over and over by people benefited by those who reach out and programs like the ones for which I am raising funds.

Day 5 was a ride from Clovis to Littlefield TX. Trains, grain silos and a lot of open space still dominated. This was a day of flat roads, minimal winds and temps in the 70s and I let my guard down about checking out weather for Day 6 (to Lubbock). I sent out press releases to Lubbock reporters and on Day 6 I heard back from 2 of them. Meanwhile, as I packed up my bike to head to Lubbock, I then looked at the forecast and saw there were terrible winds. What? Why had I not paid attention to the weather? I guess the previous day’s pleasantness made me complacent.

What a hard day this was. Winds were around 15 to 20 mph from my left side and front, so at least I didn’t have to worry about being blown toward the traffic. But there were gusts of 35 mph and I also learned that when 18-wheelers pass in wind like this, bicycles lurch a bit forward then sideways (to the right) for a few seconds. Not fun.

When I heard a pop sound on my front tire, I slowed down to lean forward to see if there was any debris in the tire.

A car slows down next to me so I figured it was a Good Samaritan realizing I might have a tire problem. I look to my left and there is a camera in my face and a smiling person. Little did I know the reporter from one station would drive out to catch “live action” footage. I caught up with them 3 hours later at the first place I could take a break (should have only taken me 2 hours to get there, but the wind….). There was a second reporter waiting for me at the motel when I arrived around 5 (3 hours later than I expected).

Here are the links to the interviews:

The day after these interviews aired, I ran errands on the bike and got a few honks and waves (saw no other cyclists and I guess I’m pretty identifiable), some handshakes, and a donation from a couple of $3 for whom I knew this amount was all they could spare. Today I learned this hotel where I’m staying is comping me one night and put the second interview on their website! Kind people all around.

If you are interested in donating, here is the link:

Tomorrow – 10 am – the journey begins!

New Beginnings Work is “on the road” beginning Saturday, April 2 at 10 AM. Supporters can meet at University of New Mexico’s Duck Pond.  ThLprelaunche Duck Pond is west of the Zimmerman Library.  You can head north on Yale from Central about 1/3 of a mile and you’ll see the Duck Pond on your left.  Representatives from Wings for Life and Crossroads for Women (the two Albuquerque organizations for whom funds are being raised) will be there to support the launch of this campaign! THANKS TO ALL THE DONORS WHO HAVE DONATED PRE-LAUNCH.  Much appreciated!

I believe during this journey I’ll find other supporters who believe that, as I put it, new beginnings do indeed work.  Wings, Crossroads and the two Baltimore organizations – Goodwill and Volunteers of America – provide the support, health care, education, and skills training to enable those released from prisons and jails to lead successful lives. This helps them – and society as a whole benefits as well.

A week from today, we begin!

Training has gone well – rode 40 miles and close to 2000 feet of elevation a few days ago and have tried to get out on the bike daily.  I’m starting to get a bit nervous about all those miles on all those roads with all those cars and in all kinds of weather (though I’ll not ride in steady rain or storms unless I’m caught by surprise).    IMG_bike shadow_1936 BW-FB-c

Here’s the link for anyone interested in donating  –

Here’s my cycling schedule – please contact me if you can join for portions of the ride.

Dates (after start date) are approximate for New Beginnings Work cycling event-underlined are places for planned media events

APRIL 2__NEW MEXICO  10 AM meet at the Duck Pond UNM – Albuquerque, Moriarty, Vaughn, Ft. Sumner, Clovis

April 7__TEXAS  Littlefield, Lubbock,  Post, Snyder,  Abiliene,  Coleman, Brownwood, Goldthwaite,  Lampasas,  Austin (media event)  (rental car to New Orleans)


APRIL 22__MISSISSIPPI  Bay St. Louis, Pascagoula (will market to Jackson, Mississippi)

APRIL 24__ALABAMA  Gulf Shores (near Mobile)

APRIL 26__FLORIDA  Pensacola/Gulf Breeze, Crestview, Bonifay, Tallahassee, High Springs, Gainesville,  Palatka, St. Augustine,  Yulee

MAY 9__GEORGIA  Folkston,  Brunswick,  New Richmond, Savannah

MAY 13__SOUTH CAROLINA  Ridgeland, Walterboro,  Moncks Corner ( near Charleston),  Andrews,  Conway (this route may change after I receive additional information)

MAY 19__NORTH CAROLINA Shallotte, Wilmington, Surf City, Jacksonville, Swansboro, Ocracoke,  Rodanthe, Nags Head (near Wrightsville)(rental car to Fredericksburg area)

MAY 28__VIRGINIA Fredericksburg, Dale City

JUNE 1__Washington DC


15 days and counting!

The official start date is only 15 days away.  Training is going well – yesterday I rode 34 miles with almost 1800 feet of elevatBlue Diamond-for gen.comion. I think that means I’m ready for Sedillo Hill (an elevation of about 1500 feet heading east out of Albuquerque). I met this lovely family in Blue Diamond, Nevada who were on vacation from their home in Alaska. I learned about some wonderful dedicated bike lanes in that state and will definitely plan a future visit there!  Thanks, donors!  We’re at 4% of the goal already!

Training is tough

8 x 12 Red Rock view_FullSizeRender

Right now I’m building up mileage and hours and elevation so that when I start April 2 I’ll be ready for that 1500 feet of elevation on the way to Moriarty NM and then 70 miles the next day to Vaughn. Actually, these might be the 2 hardest days of the whole adventure! But sometimes it is really hard to motivate myself to get outdoors.  Today I hope to put in 3 hours.  I figure I’ll be riding 6-8 hours a day and if I can get my average to 4 hours daily by March 20 and then add in two 6 hour days the following week, I’ll be ready to roll! Fortunately, there are such wonderful views as I train, and I expect to see many more as I ride 3000-plus miles to Baltimore.  This particular view is part of the Red Rock National Conservation area outside of Las Vegas NV as I’m here for a short period of time helping out a family member with pre-op and post-op care.

T-shirts and more as I approach April 2nd

April 2nd is the firm start date now that my family member is on the road to full recovery from a medical procedure.  So, I’m increasing my miles per day of training in order to be ready for the  50-60 miles per day once the adventure starts.   Below is the tentative schedule (tentative for dates post April 2nd since weather and mechanical problems will change things up a bit).  t-shirts

Also, my sister’s design for New Beginnings Work is now available on t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, duffel bags, and more.  Check out this link if you’re interested.

APRIL 2__NEW MEXICO  Albuquerque (media event), Moriarty, Vaughn, Ft. Sumner, Clovis

April 7__TEXAS  Littlefield, Lubbock (media event),  Post, Snyder,  Abiliene (media event),  Coleman, Brownwood, Goldthwaite,  Lampasas,  Austin (media event)  (rental car to New Orleans)

APRIL 20__LOUISIANA New Orleans (media event)

APRIL 22__MISSISSIPPI  Bay St. Louis, Pascagoula  (will market to Jackson, Mississippi for media event)

APRIL 24__ALABAMA  Gulf Shores (near Mobile – media event)

APRIL 26__FLORIDA  Pensacola/Gulf Breeze-media event, Panama City, Tallahassee (media event) , High Springs, Gainesville,  Palatka,   St. Augustine (media event),  Yulee

MAY 9__GEORGIA  Folkston,  Brunswick,  New Richmond, Savannah (media event)

MAY 13__SOUTH CAROLINA  Ridgeland, Walterboro,  Moncks Corner (media event since near Charleston),  Andrews,  Conway (this route may change after I receive additional information)

MAY 19__NORTH CAROLINA Shallotte, Wilmington (media event), Surf City, Jacksonville, Swansboro, Ocracoke,  Rodanthe, Nags Head (possible media event since near Wrightsville)(rental car to Fredericksburg area)

MAY 28__VIRGINIA Fredericksburg (media event), Dale City

JUNE 1__Washington DC  (media event)

JUNE 3__Then BALTIMORE (media event)

First media event!

for wordpress2_FINAL_FBbanner.v.2_sloganVOAGWCR_canvas28x11_plain1_NBW-v5paint_Joy Dinaro and I were interviewed today by Mary Woods of the Archbishop’s Hour. Thanks, Mary Woods, for your hospitality and interest!  I talked about my cycling fundraiser (and its Baltimore and Albuquerque connections)- New Beginnings Work. Joy talked about the Prison Reform Ministry. It aired on February 17 but if you want to listen to it, you can find it in the Archives.

Start date changed to April 2

Hello friends. The start date for Bike2_FullSizeRenderthe cycling is moved forward to April 2. A family member needs two surgeries in late February and early March and I am providing the needed assistance. Assuming all goes well with the surgeries and post-op, I and those joining me will begin cycling from Albuquerque on April 2.

The major cities and towns on my route

Here are the cities and towns where I’ll be visiting.  I’ll post a photo of a map later.  There probably will be a  ride from Austin to New Orleans and  from Nags Head to Fredericksburg due to the remoteness of motels/hotels and the fact that my upper cycling limit is 60 miles per day (and maybe a 70 now and then).   So…. the list:

NEW MEXICO   Albuquerque (media event), Moriarty, Vaughn, Ft. Sumner, Clovis

TEXAS  Littlefield, Lubbock (media event),  Post, Snyder,  Abiliene (media event),  Coleman, Brownwood, Goldthwaite,  Lampasas,  Austin (media event)  (train/car/bus to New Orleans)

LOUISIANA New Orleans (media event)

MISSISSIPPI  Bay St. Louis,  Pascagoula

ALABAMA  Gulf Shores (media event)

FLORIDA  Pensacola (media event), Crestview, Bonifay, Tallahassee (media event) , High Springs, Gainesville,  Palatka, St. Augustine (media event),  Yulee

GEORGIA  Folkston,  Brunswick,  New Richmond, Savannah (media event)

SOUTH CAROLINA  Ridgeland, Walterboro,  Moncks Corner (media event),  Andrews,  Conway

NORTH CAROLINA Shallotte, Wilmington (media event), Surf City, Jacksonville, Swansboro, Ocracoke,  Rodanthe, Nags Head (media event)(train/car/bus to Fredericksburg area)

VIRGINIA Fredericksburg (media event), Dale City

DC  (media event)

Then BALTIMORE (media event)