Day 7 in which I change my favorite color to terra cotta

Journey: Albuquerque, NM to Flagstaff, AZ
Number of times I gave the finger: It was dark for much of my drive, so why bother?
Cups of coffee: One mug brewed by Mr. JBV himself; strong, dark, delicious. The man has eight different ways to brew coffee in his kitchen, so I expected nothing less than perfection.
Biggest accomplishment: I peeled and ate 2 hardboiled eggs while driving. Didn’t take my eyes off the road, didn’t drop below 80mph, didn’t eat any shell. HELL YEAH. This is going on my resume.

After leaving Canyon, TX, I drove to Albuquerque, NM (which I spell by typing “albuququq” and waiting for autocorrect to step in) to spend the night at John Verheul‘s house. We’d previously only interacted online, but when he saw I was driving west, he kindly offered to host me. After telling my parents that I planned to spend the week in strangers’ homes that I booked through a website, telling them that I was staying with a guy from Twitter seemed almost normal.

John was a great host; we chatted at length after I arrived and he managed to mock me for being both old and young. Talented man. He was gone by the time I got up the next morning, but left me a cup of coffee and provided a great route to ride. I repaid his kindness by scrubbing his toilet with his toothbrush. No prob, John, happy to help.

Because I had a specific workout to do, I started the ride on the trainer in John’s driveway, much to the bemusement of his neighbor, the mailman, and the random dude handing out fliers door-to-door. (The flier guy had the good sense to stick the paper in the fence versus handing it to me; pretty sure my DO NOT SPEAK TO ME OR I WILL KILL YOU face and the gasping/sweating/grunting scared him away). Once the workout was done, I went out on the road for a few hours and fell completely in love with Albuquerque. Everything is basically a shade of beige/terra cotta, but it manages to be absolutely beautiful all the same. I waved and smiled at strangers, I took pictures, I motorpaced with a friendly landscaping truck.

On the way out of town, I picked up food at the New Mexican place John recommended and pulled over at a particularly scenic spot to plop down on the pavement and eat. There are times on this trip where I’ve thought about not doing things because they make me look weird or ridiculous, but I’ve gone out of my way to not care or hold back. Those times usually end up being the ones I remember the most.

2015 Day 7 Casa de JBV

Any doubt about being at the right house was erased when I saw this on the front door.

2015 Day 7 Driveway Training

I just can’t get enough of my trainer and what better way to enjoy a workout than to do it where all of John’s neighbors can watch and think his friends are strange?

2015 Day 7 Roadside Horse

After my intervals were done, I set out on the road to explore for a few hours and found gorgeous scenery and a life-sized metal horse.

2015 Day 7 Bernalillo

John gave me a route from Albuquerque to Bernalillo that was both easy to navigate and lovely.

2015 Day 7 Lindsay Bayer loves this lawn

Because John is a cranky old man, he told me STAY OFF MY LAWN and of course I didn’t. So lush! So green!

2015 Day 7 New Mexican Food

I was sent here to get excellent, authentic New Mexican food. Much enchilada, many tamale, so very good.

2015 Day 7 Roadside Dinner

I got my food to go and started the drive to Flagstaff, AZ. When I found an exit with a beautiful view, I pulled off, sat on the ground, and ate five pounds of New Mexican deliciousness. My massive meal looked small in the grand scheme of the landscape.

2015 Day 7 Hobo Paradise

The sign for this said “Scenic Vista” but I think they meant to say “Hobo Encampment”.

2015 Day 7 NM View 2

Once I climbed over a fence and hiked away from the hobo huts, the view did turn out to be quite scenic.

Day 7 Welcome to AZ

The photo quality is poor, but the concept is there: HOLY CRAP, I MADE IT TO ARIZONA.

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Day 6 in which I prevail upon the kindness of strangers

Journey: Canyon, TX to Albuquerque, NM
Number of times I gave the finger: None. Today was all hugs and puppies and candy.
Cups of coffee: 2 cups with my lovely Airbnb host and 1 latte from Palace Coffee Company, the warmest coffee shop I’ve ever visited.
Personal growth moment: Eating salmon out of a can at a gas station. Let’s do that again never.

Morning dawned warm and bright in Canyon, TX, which was great news for my plans to do a 4-hour ride into Palo Duro Canyon. Hooray! Sunshine! The weather app (WHICH I CHECKED, YES, I DID) said it was going to get cooler and windy in the afternoon, so I dressed accordingly and set out on my bike.

Admittedly, it was very windy. But with the sun shining, I warmed up quickly and stripped off my gloves and headband. Things seemed to be going well. Thirty minutes in, I started down the road to the canyon and the crosswind was aggressive, but it was cute to see tumbleweeds ripping across the road and I thought, “Gosh! This is an adventure!”

IDIOT.

Nearly 10 miles later, I’d reached the canyon area. The sun had disappeared, swallowed by what I’d thought were distant mountains but what turned out to be a huge wall of incoming dark clouds. The temperature plummeted and the wind picked up to the point that I was almost knocked over several times. Normal people would have turned around and gone home but you do not read this blog because I am normal.

I entered the official state park and started the descent into the canyon. It was a winding, steep road that would probably have been fun if I wasn’t bordering on hypothermic. While it seemed like I was digging the hole deeper and deeper, my logic was that I’d warm up as soon as I turned around and started the climb back out. Besides, I could hardly feel the wind in the canyon, so clearly that meant it was sheltered.

IDIOT.

When I turned around at the bottom, it was directly into a headwind. You know those moments in life, particularly on a ride, when you realize you are completely and totally screwed? I had that feeling right then. I’d have cried if I wasn’t afraid of making it sleet on my face. It didn’t help to see large paw prints in the loose red dirt near the road.

At that point, my only goal was to make it back to the tiny shop/cafe I’d seen on the way down, because at least there I could reflect on how badly I was fucked in the comfort of a heated building. It was nearly empty when I walked in, but then a few small groups trickled in, including a bunch of men in a sheriff’s truck. Everybody made comments like “rough day for a ride!” but I couldn’t bring myself to shriek YES! SAVE ME! Instead, I finished my cup of coffee and walked out to, I don’t know, ride off into the gloom and die?

It took about 8 seconds outside before I swallowed my pride, went back inside, and asked the sheriff for a ride to the top of the canyon. It seemed far too much to ask for a ride back to town, but I figured any time not spent riding would help. He was happy to oblige as soon as he finished some work, but then another man there walked up, said he was just camping and had nothing to do, and offered to drive me.

While he went to get his car, I chatted with the friendly sheriff (who turned out to be Chief Deputy Crump) and explained how I came to be riding a bike in the canyon that day. My story didn’t sound much better out loud – I do this for a job, I generally know how to check the weather, I am not a moron – but he was kind and shared interesting stories about his work. When my ride returned with his car, I heard Chief Deputy Crump quietly ask his partner to run the guy’s tags. They didn’t tell me they were doing it, but I was so touched by their concern for my safety.

Since they didn’t scream NO DON’T GO! when I walked out with the guy, I figured the news wasn’t bad. Honestly, I was anxious getting into the car with a stranger when I had no cell service and was armed only with Clif bars, but it seemed better to risk the possibility of being murdered over the certainty of hypothermia. When I finally had service again, I checked the weather to see that it had dropped from 52 degrees to 28 degrees with a wind chill of 14 degrees. I was wearing shorts and knee warmers. There was no way that could have ended well.

David (my good samaritan) insisted in not only driving me to the top of the canyon, but also the 15+ miles back to the house. We chatted along the way about how he is traveling around the country living out of an RV and when we arrived at my house, he helped unload the bike and went on his way. My host was waiting in the doorway – she had contacted me during the ride to see if I was okay due to the extreme weather shift, offered to come get me, and was worried about my safety in accepting a ride with an unknown man.

Between the two of them and the kind chief deputy, I was overwhelmed. Nobody had to help me or be concerned about my well-being; these people didn’t know me at all and I wasn’t their problem. But they went out of their way to look out for me and for that I am still so grateful. This trip has been an amazing adventure and I’ve seen and done so many things, but this – getting to see how strangers stepped in to help another person in trouble – this was the best thing yet.

2015 Day 6 TX is Effing Huge

The ride started out with some really exciting terrain.

2015 Day 6 My New Tumbleweed

I got to spend some quality time with a tumbleweed, which I’ve secretly always longed to do.

2015 Day 6 Palo Duro Canyon 4

This was the last time I saw the sun on the ride.

2015 Day 6 Palo Duro Canyon 2

And here is Palo Duro Canyon, that place where I would be a popsicle were it not for the kindness of strangers.

2015 Day 6 Palace Coffee

Palace Coffee Company, which offered both great coffee, friendly service, AND free stickers!

2015 Day 6 Welcome to NM

Apparently “The Land of Breaking Bad” or “The Home of Great Meth” did not make the cut as a state slogan.

2015 Day 6 Bad Decision

The sign said “Dead End” so of course I drove on, parked, and got out of the car. This sort of thing always ends well.

2015 Day 6 Rock Climbing

What, you don’t rock climb alongside the highway in socks and sandals?

2015 Day 6 Scenic NM

New Mexico is stunning – wide open plains, mountains, red rocks everywhere. It was breathtaking (which may have actually been a result of the intense windchill).

2015 Day 6 Lindsay Bayer Hiking

The face of a very cold person who is thrilled to be doing something stupid (apparently the theme of the day).

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Day 5 in which this road trip surpasses expectations

Journey: Oklahoma City, OK to Canyon, TX
Number of times I gave the finger: 0! It was a cheerful day.
Cups of coffee: A French press of Peritus with breakfast and then hits mid-drive from the jug of cold brew that I bought from Coffee Slingers in OKC specifically for the bottle, a fact that would horrify the snooty coffee dorks working there.
More instances of panic because the gas tank was empty with nary a station in sight: 1. I will probably not learn this lesson until I’m walking down the interstate carrying a gas can.
Thoughts from the highway: (1) An 18-wheeler flat-bed transporting huge stacks of exposed hay bales has got to be the least aerodynamic vehicle ever, like a gigantic unshaven leg. (2) Bob Dylan sounds like he is perpetually whining. (3) We took land from the Native Americans, marginalized and abused them, and then appropriated their culture to manufacture tacky souvenirs to sell at “Cherokee Trading Posts” along Highway 40; ouch.

This road trip really came together yesterday. I rolled out of bed late and rushed to do my trainer workout before the next Airbnb guest could walk in to see me gasping and sweating profusely in the kitchen. Then I vacuumed the house (because I’m nuts) and got ready to get on the road. On the way out of town, I dropped into Schlegel Bicycles to check out the store and visit the nearby coffee shop. The barista was exceedingly aloof when I asked questions about the cold brew coffee, but I didn’t have to heart to point out that he was selling me a drink, not rare gems that he’d personally mined.

Then I drove into Texas and stopped several times along the way to see things and take pictures and be reminded of why I decided to drive across the country versus fly. I keep thinking of that expression, “Happiness is a journey, not a destination.” Okay, so it’s cliche. But also, if you actually take the time to pull over and be where you are instead of racing past, it’s true.

2015 Day 5 New Teammate

This is what happens when you leave me unattended in your house. Well, this and cleaning.

2015 Day 5 Okie Cold Brew

Bought this just for the awesome bottle.

2015 Day 5 Drinking and Driving

But make no mistake, this coffee won’t go to waste.

2015 Day 5 TX State Line

I love that Texas literally has a state line on the ground.

2015 Day 5 TX Chainsaw Massacre

I hiked behind this abandoned building in the middle of nowhere to pee and possibly get disemboweled by a man with a rusty blade.

2015 Day 5 TX Landscape

Texas is kind of lovely.

2015 Day 5 Snakes!

I took this photo standing amongst rocks and tall weeds while wearing sandals.

2015 Day 5 Hooray TX!

GOD BLESS TEXAS

2015 Day 5 TX Sunset

This is what I imagined when I thought about driving across the country.

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Day 4 in which blissfully nothing happened

Journey: From the bed to the kitchen to the couch.
Cups of coffee: 1 French press with breakfast and a homemade matcha green tea almond milk latte that I am mentioning because I want to sound fancy.
Personal growth moment: I washed all of my clothes and left the house in adult-appropriate apparel.
Things in this extremely modern house that confound me: (1) Cannot figure out how to turn on either fireplace. (2) Cannot figure out how to fully flush the environmentally-friendly toilets on the first…second…or third try. (3) Cannot figure out how adjust the water temperature in the shower to anything other than scald, boil, or incinerate.

Yesterday was a much-needed break from driving and an easy training day. I spent almost the entire day glued to an enormous blue couch, thinking about all of the exciting things I could be doing and enjoying not doing them. Eventually I got moving, turning the day’s corework session into an extravaganza that took full advantage of the open floor space. It was like Center Stage, but without the talent.

Since I was tired of eating things that came from a bag in my car, I went out for dinner. I’d considered trying something upscale and “local” but wasn’t feeling steak or chicken-fried anything, so I settled on Vietnamese. I walked into Pho Lien Hoa and signaled that I was a party of one, to which the hostess asked loudly, “You alone?”

Yes. I am a leper.

The pho was great; it’s wonderful that I can drive halfway across the country and enjoy the same soup I love at home. Even better, the table behind me was speaking Spanish the whole time. Globalization is awesome like that.

After dinner, I stopped in a natural food store downtown and paid eight times more than anybody ever should for bananas and hummus. Then I walked around Bricktown, which was really exciting for about 0.03 seconds, and then I’d had enough and went home to drink scotch from my travel flask and go to bed.

2015 Day 4 Sloth

This is where I spent most of the day, with the exception of time spent in the kitchen gathering food.

2015 Day 4 Lindsay Bayer Dancing

Finally peeled myself off the couch at sunset to take advantage of the wide open floor space and killer stereo system.

2015 Day 4 Banjo Museum

This photo constitutes the full spectrum of my visit to the American Banjo Museum in Bricktown.

2015 Day 4 Buffalo

I wanted to ride the buffalo but he was planted next to a police station.

2015 Day 4 City Skyline

After some very chilly, windy minutes of walking around, I had my fill of Oklahoma City.

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Day 3 in which I struggle to understand America the Beautiful

Journey: Memphis, TN to Oklahoma City, OK
Number of times I gave the finger: 2, including an aggressive two-hander.
Cups of coffee: 2 cups at my host home this morning; none mid-drive because rural America.
Instances of panic because the gas tank was empty with nary a station in sight: 2
Number of times Pitbull references himself in songs: NEVER ENOUGH.
Personal growth moment: On day 1, I traveled in jeans and boots. On day 2, I traveled in jeans and sandals with socks. On day 3, I traveled in pajamas and sandals. It’s a good thing I’m not traveling tomorrow, or I’d end up wearing a trash bag.

Today was a long day. After a night with little sleep, I awoke to pouring rain in Memphis. The scheduled ride was so structured that I’d intended to do it on the trainer anyway (because the best way to enjoy a trip across America is by pedaling indoors facing a wall), so I decided to drive first and ride later. Nothing refreshes the legs like 7 hours of driving.

My destination was Oklahoma City, which meant crossing Arkansas and half of Oklahoma. I started the drive by crying and eating all of the leftover waffle cookies, because #homesick and #rain. Then I ate my way across Arkansas. Literally. It’s like I was powering the car with my stomach and the only reason I eventually stopped was because I ran out of things that didn’t require a can opener.

I got to Oklahoma City at 6pm and spent an hour waiting to get into my Airbnb house. Part of that time was passed getting more food at Walmart where I was really judgmental about the other customers until I realized I was (a) unshowered, (b) in sandals in sub-30-degree weather, and (c) wearing pajamas. Then my host called to share where he hides the key and I moved into the house I’ll be at for the next two nights while he is out of town. This Airbnb thing is a little crazy; “Hi, my name is Lindsay, you’ve never met me but I’m going to live in your house for a few days in your absence.”

But instead of throwing a wild party and stealing this guy’s valuables, I cleaned both of his toilets.

Then I got to cap off my day with a crushing trainer workout. I texted my coach about how it was late and I was tired HINT HINT, because I was hoping she’d tell me to do something easier and then I could be like “NO, I am TOUGH, I will do the workout!”

Instead she replied, “Life as a pro.”

Indeed. And that is why I love her.

Day 3 Road Trip Style

There was a time in which I gave a shit about how I looked, but that time was not today.

Day 3 Arkansas

The sign is blurry because of all my tears on the windshield.

Day 3 Oklahoma!

I can’t see a reference to this state without hearing my mother sing, “Oklahoma! Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain!”

Day 3 WTF

There are hardly words. Oh, wait. One: Oklahoma.

Day 3 Home Sweet Home

Pretty sure no Airbnb host is expecting somebody to roll a bike into their kitchen to do interval workouts. HI HONEY! I’M HOME!

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