Pedaling for Peace

On April 15, 2012 I started riding my bicycle cross-country from Jacksonville, Florida in voluntary support of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) and the work of author and Peace Leadership Director for the NAPF, Paul K. Chappell. By July 4th, I had covered over 1300 miles to just west of Luling, Texas where a major mechanical failure brought this first stage of my cross-country journey to an end. After storing my bicycle and trailer with my aunt and uncle in Weatherford, Texas, I flew from Dallas to Santa Barbara, California to attend the NAPF First Annual Peace Leadership Summer Workshop. I then lived and worked in Santa Barbara for several more months before I returned to Jacksonville and sold off the rest of my possessions that I could to help fund a continuation of my journey. Starting June 8, 2013 and ending August 9, 2013, I rode from Weatherford, through 400 miles of the central Texas hill country, including Austin, Texas, back to Luling. It was at this point that a friend of mine invited me to work for a brief period in Pennsylvania before flying me back to Santa Barbara where I continued volunteering for the NAPF as well as for the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition. As of August 9th, 2014 I began"Stage III" of my cross-country adventure, this time heading south from Santa Barbara to San Diego and then east to El Paso, TX. It was there that illness, winter weather, and diminishing resources brought that leg of my journey to an end. After staying with another friend in Columbus, GA for several months, I moved "back home" to Kentucky to stay with my dad for a while and build a better "resource base" for future endeavors including review and further tracking and primitive survival skills training at Tom Brown, Jr's Tracker School , and a possible longer tour of the east coast, northern tier, and north west coast back down to Santa Barbara, CA.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Taking Care of Some Details in Weatherford, Texas

While I was in Weatherford with my Aunt Joyce and Uncle Jim I had several things that needed to be taken care of before I could get on the road again.

First of all, having gotten a new set of wheels for the trailer after losing the tire off of one of them just west of Luling, TX (the mechanical incident which brought my journey to a temporary end), I was recalling what the manufacturer, Mike Holland at the Wheele Rack Company had said about a "bushing" from the old wheels that needed to be transferred to the new ones. Steve in New Braunfels helped install the new wheels while I was there, and it seemed they went on fine without the bushing. Nevertheless, I wanted to open up those old wheels to see exactly what Mike had been talking about. With my uncle's patient help, we did that, and sure enough, there was a narrow metal cylinder that seemed to be serving a purpose when it wedged between the two sealed bearing cups on each side of the wheel. So we transferred these to the new wheels and, now almost 50 miles later, everything seems to be working just fine.

In addition to addressing this matter with the new trailer wheels, I got to thinking about the trouble I had if I ever needed to stop and get off of my bicycle "in the middle of nowhere". (You know, like to go to the bathroom or something...). I had met Paul Edmenson from England early in my trip and he carried a fairly long, sturdy, wooden stick with him with a fork in it and he would wedge that under the top tube. Since my uncle is a skilled wood-worker, I thought we might be able to come up with something until I looked a little more closely at the bit of PVC pipe with the extra trailer hitch on it that I'd been using as the upright for my trailer stand. I realized, there was something of a notch created by the hitch and the PVC pipe at the top, and otherwise, it was a long leg that could reach to the ground. So I adjusted the hitch up just a little higher and added an easy to attach/disengage strap to the trailer wheel (to keep it from rolling) and, Voila!: A multipurpose bike kick-stand, plus a still usable trailer stand part as well.

This stand adds to the list of "Little Things" that I hope will make this trip a little easier because it solves a persistent problem; i.e. being able to keep my rig upright when I don't have anything to lean it against. One of the other "little problems" that I solved while at my friend Alisa's house was how to keep my charged batteries separate from my uncharged ones (as I use them in either multiples of two or three and the charger has to have four batteries in it to function properly). My solution was to make little nylon bags that were red on one side and green on the other and could be turned inside out or outside in as necessary. When the green side is out, that means the batteries are "Good to Go". When the red side is out it means "Stop-Batteries are Dead".

Finally, and I don't have any pictures of the new bag covers yet as I have not had to use them, but last year I spent a lot of time using an old army poncho to cover my rear panniers when they needed rain protection. It was kind of a hassle because I had to be really careful to make sure none of the excess material, or tie-down cords were going to get caught up in the wheel.

Here's one picture from last year that shows what this looked like...

Upon closer inspection I got it in my head that I just might have enough fabric in that poncho to make more easily attached covers for ALL of my panniers. So that was another project I set out to complete while at my aunt and uncle's house. As my Aunt Joyce was not terribly keen on the idea of my using her Brand New Electronic Sewing machine on the somewhat rugged and coated nylon fabric, I took advantage of "Option 2" instead - and sewed them on her Much Older Singer sewing machine - which worked just fine once we found a bobbin the right size. Not only did I get four covers for the panniers, I even managed to piece together a cover for my saddle - all of which I will be sure and photograph as soon as I Have To Use Them! (As it turned out, I had an extra nylon bag that I made prior to starting my first trip that was just the right size to hold all of the covers and fit neatly, and handily, on the back of the rack over the rear wheel.) In addition, taking all of the reinforced edges off of the poncho Reduced the Weight a bit, and even though, relatively speaking, it doesn't matter That Much right now, I still felt better about the final result - for many reasons.

After taking care of these "critical" issues, I finished putting everything back on the bike...with a little assistance from Thomas the cat...

And then, on Saturday, June 8th, with a bit of trepidation because I have been basically sedentary for the last three months, I was ready to get on the road once again, with my Aunt Joyce taking the pictures and my Uncle Jim posing with me outside their garage where so much work took place over the few days I was there.

I owe a great debt of gratitude to these two relatives of mine who have done so much to help me with my journey!

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