Naming Red

The 2017 Finish Well Ride is peaking over the horizon. Twenty-nine days remain until that first of many long days of pedaling first over plains, then over mountains, then over more mountains until I finally arrive at the northernmost point where supporters of Bet Shalom can be found (and if there’s a farther point north, I don’t want to know.)

So what am I thinking right now?

I’m thinking: “WHAT AM I THINKING?!?”

My 4,000 km ride is turning out to be closer to 5,000 km. It’s too late to change the promotional material, but then what’s a thousand extra kilometers if you’re going to do 4,000, right?

I’ve got a lot of contacts still to make and press releases and videos to send. I’m starting to wonder if any churches besides the few contacts I have along the way are going to provide shelter for this weary traveler and her crew, and who knows if I’ll get anywhere near my $75,000 USD fundraising goal.

But right now none of this weighs on me as much as the dilemma of what to name my bike.

It’s not a new bike. I received it as a donation for my 2009 ride from Zihuatanejo to Oklahoma City.

In fact, my first time to ride it was the first day of that journey. Maybe at the time it was too new and sleek and professional to receive a name.

Now it’s past its prime and we’ve become friends.

It deserves a name, just like Meg, the second-hand mountain bike I bought more than 20 years ago in Taos, New Mexico.

I named her after the broken down mare in the Robert Burns poem, Tam O’Shanter.

For all the world Tam O’Shanter’s mare was just an old nag, but for Tam O’Shanter she was “my good mare Meg, a better never lifted leg.”

After the mountains of northern New Mexico, after the rain-soaked journeys of southern Spain. After frigid rides in England and the scorching ones in the African out-of-the-way places, my Meg earned her name and her epithet.

I even brought her to Mexico for a while and she carried me on my first long adventure here: the trip up through the Sierra Madre to see the Monarch butterflies in the Michoacan Highlands.

Her last big ride with me was the first one I rode up from Zihuatanejo to Oklahoma in 2003. Even though she was mainly just an extra on that trip, she didn’t get offended. She gave plenty of good miles when I asked it from her.

Meg never failed me.

But, alas, Meg is not up for this journey. She wasn’t up for the last one either, for that matter.

Since 2009 I’ve had a red bicycle. IMG_4923

Even as I write that last sentence I’m sorry I never named it. How can this red racer that has carried me more than 8,000 miles go without a name for so many years?

These days its red paint is chipped and some pieces have been replaced (and more will be replaced before I take off from Oklahoma City), but this red bicycle has kept its figure and it’s ready to ride another long one, or at least it doesn’t believe anyone who says it can’t.

Now you see why this bike needs a name?

What will it be?

This is Where I’m Going (Probably)

Here’s the itinerary for the 2017 Finish Well Ride. Look at it and if I’ll be near you at any point, let me know. I’ve plugged in a few two- or even three-day stops. Really those are cushion days so that if I don’t make my mileage (mainly in the mountains) then I can catch up.

There are about a dozen points on the map where I have a contact that dictated the general direction I’ve decided to go. After that I basically filled in the details by just picking the most interesting place names on the way (i.e. Rustic, Dinosaur, Chilly, Good Grief, etc.).

The last bit in Canada is still being looked at by my Canadian peeps and blanks will be filled in and probably tweaks made later.


2017 Finish Well Ride Itinerary

Start Day July 20 – OKC  to Crescent – 50 miles (81 km)

July 21 – Crescent to Medford – 70.9 miles (115 km)

July 22 – Medford to Country Acres Baptist Church (Wichita, KS) – 76.8 miles (124 km)

July 23 – Rest in Wichita

July 24 – Wichita to Stafford, KS – 85.3 miles (138 km)

July 25 – Stafford to Plainville – 120 miles (194.52 km)

July 26 – Plainville to Menlo – 84.9 miles (137 km)

July 27 – Menlo to Goodland – 56.9 miles (92 km)

July 28 – Goodland to Eckley, CO – 89.1 miles (144 km)

July 29 – Eckley to Akron – 40.3 miles (65 km)

July 30 – Akron to Raymer – 60.3 miles (98 km)

July 31 – Raymer to Ft. Collins – 68.5 miles (111 km)

Aug. 1 – Rest

Aug. 2 – Ft. Collins to Rustic – 42 miles (68 km)

Aug. 3 – Rustic to Walden – 57.5 miles (93 km)

Aug. 4 – Walden to Steamboat Springs – 59 miles (96 km)

Aug. 5 – Rest

Aug. 6 – Steamboat Springs to Lay – 60.9 miles (99 km)

Aug. 7 – Lay to Dinosaur – 68.8 miles (111 km)

Aug. 8 – Dinosaur to Red Canyon, Utah – 70.2 miles (114 km)

Aug. 9 – Red Canyon to Lyman, WY – 83 miles (

Aug. 10 – Rest

Aug. 11 – Rest

Aug. 12 – Lyman to Diamondville – 41.8 miles (68 km)

Aug. 13 – Diamondville to Montpelier, ID – 76.5 miles (124 km)

Aug. 14 – Montpelier to Pocatello – 87.5 miles (141 km)

Aug. 15 – Rest

Aug. 16 – Pocatello to Arco – 85.3 miles (138 km)

Aug. 17 – Arco via Carey to Ketchum – 83.2 miles (135 km)

Aug. 18 – Rest

Aug. 19 – Ketchum to Chilly, ID – 40.9 miles (66 km)

Aug. 20 – Chilly to Salmon – 94.4 miles (153 km)

Aug. 21 – Salmon, ID to Sula, MT – 58.3 miles (94.5 km)

Aug. 22 – Sula to Missoula – 83.3 miles (135 km)

Aug. 23 – Missoula to Thompson Falls – 101 miles (164 km)

Aug. 24 – Thompson Falls to Hope, ID – 69.2 miles (112 km)

Aug. 25 – Hope, ID to Coeur d’Alene – 62.1 miles (100 km)

Aug. 26 – Rest

Aug. 27 – Rest

Aug. 28 – Sandpoint to Good Grief, ID – 59.7 miles (97 km)

Aug. 29 – Good Grief, ID to Cranbrook, B.C. – 53.2 miles (86.2 km)

Aug. 30 – Cranbrook to Premier Lake – 40 miles (65 km)

Aug. 31 – Premier Lake to Fairmont Hot Springs – 38.4 miles (62 km)

Sept. 1 – Fairmont HS to Radium Hot Springs (or maybe farther along) – 23 miles (37.3 km)

Sept. 2 – Radium HS to Castle Junction – 65.5 (106 km)

Sept. 3 – Castle Junction to Banff – 20 miles (33 km)

Sept. 4 – Banff to Ghost Lake – 47.8 miles (77 km)

Sept. 5 – Ghost Lake to Calgary – 41.9 miles (68 km)

Sept. 6 – Calgary to Drumheller – 83.6 miles (167 km)

Sept. 7 – Drumheller to Youngstown – 80 miles

Sept. 8 –  Youngstown to ?????

Sept. 9 – ????? to Red Deer

Finish Well Ride: No More Easy Days

June 1 – Fifty days from today I’ll be taking off from Oklahoma City on another bicycling adventure that, if all goes well, will end 50 days after that in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.

The 2017 Finish Well Ride is starting to loom large on the horizon.

Just an hour ago I got a commitment from a couple willing to drive sag wagon 10 days for the last gaping hole on my itinerary.

Thank the Lord, things are finally coming together.

Never mind that I can barely ride 60 miles and then need a couple of rest days afterwards. That’ll get worked out.

As the day draws near the voice in my head that says “you can always ride tomorrow” is now getting overruled by the voice that says “you don’t have time to mess around.”

I like that voice.

Actually, that voice can be merciless sometimes, but I like how I feel when I obey that voice.

My aunt told me how she was once talking to my grandfather, who was a man of few words, but who, when he said something, was worth listening to. She was complaining about how hard her day was and he said, “Did you want an easy one?”

I think I understand what my grandpa was trying to convey: Easy days don’t make us better. They don’t produce endurance or character.

So while it might seem preferable in the short term, it’ll get you nowhere in the long run, whether we’re talking about a ride to Canada or life.

Sure, rest is a blessing, but a life full of easy days can be a curse.

Here’s to no more easy days…at least for a while.