Sunday, June 30, 2013

Day 1 Daunted Courage, June 30, 2013

We have officially begun retracing the Lewis & Clark expedition route at its start - the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers about 15 miles northeast of St. Louis.  Here's the route we will follow over the next two months:

Thanks to the many backers so far of our Kickstarter campaign!  The most popular award chosen has been the "Book Lover Extreme" -- an early manuscript of Daunted Courage: Cycling the Lewis & Clark Trail with Kids.  

Eiko, Sho, Saya and I left NYC by car two days ago and made it this morning to St. Louis, the official starting point of Lewis & Clark's expedition.  Our first stop was the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site, a well maintained facility about 30 minutes outside of St. Louis that is designated, appropriately, as Trail Site #1 for those re-tracing the expedition route.  Near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, it includes a replica of the fort that Lewis & Clark's crew lived in during the winter of 1803 - 4 as they prepared for the start of their expedition in May 1804.  Brad Winn, the Site Manager, was generous with his time, giving us a personal tour and sharing his encyclopedic knowledge of the L&C expedition.

Here are some pics from the day:   
Cleverhood sponsored our trip with these stylin' rain capes

Brad Winn, Site Manager of the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site, giving me tips on the route

Brad Winn re-traced the L&C Trail by car last year, documented here

Eiko, Sho and Saya at the L&C State Historic Site

Saya strolling by a reproduction of the keelboat used by L&C

Sho with "lamb's ear," a plant that can be used as a bandaid

The arch in St. Louis

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 26, 2013:

To get ready for our trip, I took a fully loaded training ride up steep, winding Perkins Memorial Drive in Bear Mountain State Park.  I packed my panniers with all 7 hardcover books in the Harry Potter series and a bunch of other heavy stuff, maybe 75 pounds in total.  I wanted to test my fitness and make sure the bike and attachments are in good working order.  The equipment is fine.  I'm in marginally acceptable shape, but need to get stronger by the time we hit the Rockies.

My good friends Bobby and Alison Berna joined the outing.  I thought they would give me moral support, but turns out they just wanted me to give them a romantic couples ride up the mountain.

Okay, that's a joke.  They actually rode their own bikes, pacing me, taking pics & video, and chuckling politely when I made nerdy jokes.  They are good people.

Two other tidbits from the week:
  - Bike Snob NYC featured my family adventures on his blog.  He's sarcastic, definitely out of line and inappropriate around polite company.  I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard at his post -- we're mentioned in the bottom half.  Check it out here.  Don't click if you're offended by profanity or cynicism.

 - I received the following not so polite note from a concerned individual who saw my Kickstarter campaign

Here's my response:

There will always be naysayers who discourage you from following an unconventional path.  Respond politely, but do not let them change your course.  An old saying goes, "The person who says it cannot be done should get out of the way of the person doing it."  Yep.

Friday, June 21, 2013

June 21, 2013:

We start the Lewis & Clark ride exactly one week from today!  As I go over my list of remaining To Do's for this trip, I'm getting a "ready or not" feeling.  I don't know if my kids and I are ready to take on this challenge, especially cycling over the Rocky Mountains.  We'll find out when we try and, ready or not, we'll give it our best shot.

I've been training hard and, two days from now, will do a fully loaded training ride up one of my favorite steep climbs: Perkins Memorial Drive in Bear Mountain.  I'll load about 100 pounds of gear on my bike and pull the trailer cycle and bike trailer behind me.  Starting from Route 9W by the Hudson River, I'll cycle about 1,250 vertical feet over 4 1/2 miles, with sections as steep at 10%, until reaching the summit.  There, a 40-feet-tall tower offers a view of 4 states and the Manhattan skyline 40 miles away.  After enjoying the view, I plan to ride back down to the starting point and do it all over again.  Should be a good workout, but nothing nearly as hard as what we'll face in the Rockies.  I'm hoping my 45-year-old back and knees will hold up when the time comes, not to mention my 12- and 6-year-old kids...

We have received a lot of support so far:
 - Katie Arnold at Outside Magazine interviewed me today for a piece she'll write about our trip in the magazine's "Raising Rippers" blog.  Cool!  I'll post the article here when it goes live.

 - I launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the costs of writing a book about this trip (Daunted Courage: Cycling the Lewis & Clark Trail with Kids), putting together a short documentary and giving post-trip talks at schools and science museums.  So far, 22 people have contributed $2,530 (thank you!) and chosen awards, like having their name listed in the acknowledgments of the book.  Here's the link, if you want to check out the rewards and/or watch my son at age 8 dominate a 300-pound sumo wrestler:  

Kickstarter is not a charity fund raising site.  It's about projects you want to support with worthy awards offered to contributors, and it's all or nothing.  If we don't raise the target $15,000, we don't get any of the money.  Kinda like this trip, there's pressure to perform and not a lot of room for error.

 - National Geographic published an essay I wrote about the trip, in which I answered the question, "Are you crazy?":

 - And Huffington Post just published a piece I wrote about the emerging disruptive phenomenon of crowd funding, using this trip as an example:

My kids are excited.  My wife is supportive.  I'm intimidated.  Time is running out.  Sounds about right for one week out from this ambitious? foolhardy? attempt to re-trace the Lewis & Clark Trail with my kids.  Thank you for supporting us!