“A million pedal strokes etch memories
into the muscles in your legs with a single purpose: to power the crank and
move the bicycle forward. Food flows into your body, bringing it power and
strength. Water drenches your cells with liquid life. Sweat cools your skin
while it circulates back into the air. It is no longer a question of struggle.
Now the journey evolves into the spiritual realm—where the pedaling becomes
instinctive and a flight of fancy. The Great Spirit expresses through you and
you express through it. You ride with universal energy pulsing through your
being. You take flight without ever leaving the ground. A free-flow of energy
radiates through your body and willingly expresses itself in the flight of the
pedals.” FHW, Golden, CO
Into the Valley of the Gods © 2012 Frosty Wooldridge
Frosty Wooldridge riding off
the mesa at Capitol Reef Park, Utah, and descending into the Valley of the Gods
in the "Land of the Sleeping Rainbows" in the autumn of 2012.
As I left the campfire last
night after telling the penguin narrative in Antarctica, a boy ran up to me,
“Sir, that was a great story. Thanks for sharing it with us. But, I
have a question.”
“Shoot,” I said.
“Why DO you ride your
bicycle around the world?” he asked. “Why not drive a car so you can get
to your destination easier and faster?”
I gave him a short version,
which seemed to satisfy his curiosity. However, during the evening while
I sat around our campfire listening to Gerry strum his guitar; I thought more
about what it means to be a long distance touring rider.
special happens to your mind and body when you become a long distance touring
cyclist. An undeniable spiritual evolvement meanders into your intellect
and heart. You feel more attuned to your natural surroundings. Your
emotional vibrations coalesce with nature in a way that gives you peaceful
feelings throughout your body. At the start of a long day in the saddle,
your mind eagerly anticipates the physical output generated by your legs, lungs
and heart. Your quads and calves “do” become your wings. Every
blood cell in your body charges around to bring your tissue life-giving oxygen,
food and energy. Your muscles thrill to the challenges and work to power
you forward into your special two-wheeled dance. The long distance
bicyclist carries an insatiable desire to interact with possibilities that may
emerge around the next bend in the road.
The bicyclist lives in that moment and
then pedals forward to the next moment, always advancing, never in retreat.
At the end of the day, with endorphins raging throughout your body
(natural drugs produced in your system from long-term physical exertion), you
feel that “sweet spot” of perfection. That physical elegance may last
minutes or longer, but when it visits, you vibrate with emotional joy, physical
pleasure and all things feel well in your world. Traveling “slow” beats
going “fast” and life’s rhythms “center” you in the scheme of the universe.
On the road,
a long mountain grade requires tenacity and perseverance. It takes guts and
gumption to ride in 100 degree desert heat. Being drenched in a downpour tests
a cyclist, but he or she knows the sunshine beckons beyond the clouds. To face
an entire continent on your bicycle challenges your body, mind and spirit.
Most won’t do it. Such a physical task reaches beyond their emotional
Those individuals who choose the easy way through life garner
average results: no epic moments; no challenges to conquer; no great
quests; no breathtaking successes. But that’s the nature of most of the
human race. No judgment one way or the other: just observation.
When you see
long distance touring cyclists, you now possess an inkling of why they ply the
highways of the world on their bicycles.
Lewis Falls in Yellowstone National Park.)
and I headed toward Old Faithful, the most famous geyser in the world. We
crossed the Continental Divide at 8,391feet and at Craig’s Pass at 8,262
feet. We pedaled through the old burn from 1988 with thousands of gray
tree skeletons still standing, but filled-in with verdant 30 foot tall
pines. Mother Nature destroys and she rebirths again.
We rode the
spine of a dragon with the Continental Divide providing us with ample testing
of our bodies. Soon, we reached Old Faithful with all its fanfare.
An enormous parking lot carried thousands of cars with license plates from all
over the US and Canada. We noticed dozens of languages from visitors from
all over the planet.
all-wood-constructed, 130 plus year old—Old Faithful Inn. We enjoyed a
spectacular lunch inside and walked out to see Old Faithful erupt for the
joined 800 to 1000 people to watch Old Faithful blast its way into the warm
summer air. Cameras clicked as the steam vent erupted with hot boiling
water and soon, the entire geyser blasted its load over 100 feet into the
air. Many such geysers dot the park.
We watched a
movie on the Yellowstone Basin and how it sits on a thin spot of the Earth’s
surface: a caldera. The entire basin erupted 640,000 years ago with a blast 100
times greater than Mount Saint Helens. It blew a hole in the ground that
created the Yellowstone Basin hundreds of square miles. It will blow up
again at some point and destroy everything we see today.
We ate lunch
at the Old Faithful Inn. Dozens of people stopped to admire our bikes
while we walked around the area. I heard one lady tell her husband, “I
could never ride a bicycle across America.” In fact, anyone
in good health could ride a bicycle across America. The oldest man and
woman I met on the road: Californians Bob and Sarah at 78 and 74 years of age
on a two year cycle trip around the world.
Faithful erupting. I have watched that geyser erupt since 1959 when my parents
took our family to Yellowstone. I never tire of seeing nature’s elegance
in all its forms.)
After we got
our “eruption fix” at Old Faithful, we walked all around the 130 year old--Old
Faithful Inn with its amazing natural wood. Greats like Teddy Roosevelt
walked those halls and many other presidents.
Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park.)
our bikes and pedaled along the Firehole River. We saw elk, bison and moose
grazing in the rich watershed. Later in the day, we reached Firehole
Falls with its bubbling pools, steaming vents and beautiful designs coloring
the runoff. Nature’s artwork captivates like few other sights on the
planet at those pools.
point, a road crew stopped us for 15 minutes. The guy held a stop
sign. A motorcyclist waited right beside us. Two SUV’s rolled up
with their windows rolled down with the wives in the passenger front
seats. That’s when Gerry told his story about how he and Dave had been wearing
the same single pair of underwear across the entire United States—to save on
washing. The motorcyclist took note, the DOT sign-holder listened hard
and the two ladies in the SUV’s leaned their ears into the tale.
brought one pair of underwear when we started on the beach in Virginia 8 weeks
ago,” said Gerry. “Each night, after a shower, I switched the outside
in. Next night, the inside out. I did that every day for a week.
Then, I threw them over to Dave and he did the same. Wear them all day and
then, turn them inside out and outside in. After the two weeks, we
followed the usual routine, but then, so as to save the one pair, we turned
them front to back and back to front.”
time, the ladies in the cars couldn’t stop laughing. The motorcyclist
checked his underwear and I could not contain myself.
month,” Gerry said. “We would throw the one pair of underwear up against the
motel room shower tile. If it stuck like velcro, we would wash the one
pair of underwear. If not, I would take the next shift by wearing
that underwear for that week. That way, we discovered we could cross the
entire North American continent wearing only one pair of underwear.”
Dave, “What did one of you wear when you weren’t wearing the underwear?”
in the SUV’s could hardly contain themselves, they laughed so hard. I
about fell off Condor with a cracked face from laughing.
said, “I need a drink!” The DOT sign-holder said, “I gotta’ find a new
I told the women
in the SUV’s, “After a week of this humor, I need special counseling.”
with laughter even more! Finally, the DOT sign-holder lets us pass and we
pedaled forward. As usual, Gerry carried a smirk on his face. I love those
Gerry at the Firehole Basin Geyser area.)
to Madison Junction. For the past seven days, I enjoyed Dave and Gerry’s
company more than I can ever describe. We shared from the heart and burst into
laughter at every occasion. We laughed like kids and cycled like
kids. Total frolic! We faced headwinds, mountain passes and
rain. We shared campfires, singing, guitar playing and enormous distances
with only our legs to take us through the tempest. We formed a
brotherhood, a bonding of our hearts. I’m a pretty emotional guy, so I
found myself saddened in the late afternoon when we approached the junction.
minutes after we reached the intersection, I knew they would take a fork in the
road to head out of Yellowstone going west to the Pacific Ocean. I would
be left on my solo journey again. I parked my bike at the campground
entrance. Both Gerry and Dave stopped in the road. I walked up to
each of them with a big hug and tears streaming down my face. We thanked
each other for a terrific time shared, and for the laughter. Gees, I
wished them well and thanked them for making my ride with them the most
memorable in recent memory.
pedaled away, Gerry yelled out, “This underwear sticks to me arse worse than
commando,” I said.
colors created from the runoff from the hot springs all over Yellowstone.)
colors of the runoff from geysers all over Yellowstone.)
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents - from the
Arctic to the South Pole - as well as eight times across the USA, coast to
coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway
to Athens, Greece. In 2010, he cycled 3,400 miles coast to coast across
America. In 2012, he bicycled the northern tier coast to coast across
America. In 2013, he bicycled 2,500 miles from Mexico to Canada on the
Continental Divide, 150,000 vertical feet of climbing and 19 crossing of
passes, 10 of the Continental Divide. He presents “The Coming Population
Crisis facing America: what to do about it.” www.frostywooldridge.com
. His latest
book is: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by
Frosty Wooldridge, copies at 1 888 280 7715/ Motivational program: How to Live a Life of Adventure:
The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, click: www.HowToLiveALifeOfAdventure.com
Live well, laugh often, celebrate daily
and enjoy the ride,
6 Continent world bicycle traveler