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By Frosty Wooldridge
28, 2014

Part 11: Bicycling Across America—Pioneers, Lewis and Clark

“A bicycle does get you there and more.... And there is always the thin edge of danger to keep you alert and comfortably apprehensive. Dogs become dogs again and snap at your raincoat; potholes become personal. And getting there is all the fun.” ~ Bill Emerson

We pulled away from Chris’ house along the Boise River. She proved a fabulously creative woman that I met back in college. She runs a highly innovative, unique apron business: Her aprons startle and delight people from around the world who buy her goods. It’s amazing because I visited her in our 30s when she lived on ranch near the Salmon River and raised chickens. When I visited on motorcycle years ago, I slept out in her barn. A king rooster blasted his greeting to the sunrise into my ear. Never forgot it.

(A road cyclist parked by a pot of flowers.)

But, as with so many relationships, she divorced, raised her family and moved into the city. Funny and sad how we all carry our own stories of our lives. Some good times and some bad times. Happy times and sad times. She enjoys a new boyfriend, lots of contacts, and a meaningful and creative business in a fabulous city in Idaho. Check out her unique aprons.

As we pedaled out of town, we headed east on I-84 with stiff winds pushing eastward until we reached county road Route 30 toward Bliss, Idaho. We passed Albion, Almo, Oakley, City of Rocks, Wards, Durfies. Little towns where people worked at farming, construction, roofing and small businesses. We pedaled 95 miles with 25 mph tailwinds blowing us down the road.

As we traveled along where Lewis and Clark explored, and where the settlers plowed through at seven miles a day, I couldn’t help marvel that Howard rode his horse Misty across these barren hills. How did he keep her fed and watered? How did he camp out with her being skittish about varmints and other wild critters. Bicycle touring proves much faster and much easier than riding a horse. Howard walked every third mile to save Misty from breaking down. He carried only 15 pounds of gear so as to keep her from hauling a heavy load. I hand it to my brother for “true grit.” Perhaps Misty wondered, “How did I get talked into this ride across America? Why me Lord?”

Both of them traversed those lonely, harsh and lengthy miles. Howard wrote a book: Misty’s Long Ride: Across America on Horseback. And excerpt: “Well into the ride, it was a kind of loneliness out there in the middle of nowhere that took Howard’s breath away. The sunsets dazzled with every color one could imagine. They sprayed shadows across the mountains and prairies. They reflected from colossal snow-capped peaks. Each day, we broke camp before dawn and road west away from stunning sunrises. Oftentimes, Howard turned in 6the saddle and shared in words what he saw in those light banners streaking across the morning sky. At day’s end, might thunderheads boiled into the heavens painted with gold, pink, purple and orange.

“As good a cowboy as Howard was, sometimes there was nothing he could about our situation in the burning inferno of the West. In that agonizing desert, a man’s mouth becomes so dry, he can’t spit. I felt the heat cook my hooves at ground level where it felt like walking along in the middle of a Ferrier’s furnace. Yet, Howard pulled down the brim of his hat and pushed forward. I followed this cowboy because he was a Long Rider and I was his horse.” (Misty the horse tells the story of the ride, not Howard the human.)

It took Howard and Misty six and a half months to ride across America. They traveled 25-30 miles a day, camped out and shared some epic moments.

At a rest stop, I said, “Howard, man oh man, how in the hell did you keep going across this endless barren land?”

“Hard livin’ brother,” he said. “A man’s got to make up his mind, pull down his brim and bust into the wind. 'Just hard livin'.”

“No kidding,” I said. “I’ve got new respect for your hard-core resolve.”

On a bicycle adventure, I feel various energies expressing themselves through my mind and body, depending on the lay of the land and the weather. A long arduous climb requires serious mental discipline. It takes effort over time to summit a mountain pass. Today, easy riding with tailwinds. We felt bliss as we traveled through Bliss, Idaho. When it rains, my mind gathers itself against the onslaught. I endure the rain. If headwinds hit, it sends my humor into the toilet. Nothing worse than headwinds. They suck the resolve out of your body and mind.

We rolled out of Bliss on Route 30 that carried us down along the Snake River on the 10,000 Springs Byway. We pedaled along falls and intermittent still water. Many waterfalls boiled out of the layered rock. Indians called this place home with fresh water and plenty of game to hunt. Indians speared countless salmon over the centuries. Today, because of the pioneers overharvesting, building dams and contaminating the river, salmon vanished.

We climbed out of the valley toward Twin Falls. We rode through farm-fields full of beans and hay.

Twin Falls turned out as an unremarkable town with 20,000 people. One hundred year old Main Street buildings featured rent signs. Most of the big business, malls and fast food joints ran along another highway away from downtown.

We stopped for groceries. As I came out of the store, an old woman walked up to me, stopped and read the sign on my bike: Across America.

“Do you take donations?” she said.

“Sure do,” I said.

“I believe in what you’re doing,” she said. “I wish I had done what you’re doing when I was young. Here, buy dinner on me. ”

She talked about how she taught school in New Orleans inner cities for 30 years. She lost her mind, spirit and health. She hugged me.

“You ready to go Wayne?” I asked.

“Let’s get out to your friends ranch,” Wayne said.

(Howard met horseman, rancher, radio talk show host, Rodeo Hall of Famer, traveler, wicked wit Zeb Bell while riding Misty acroos America. We all have become dear friends.)

We headed toward Zeb and Deann Bell’s ranch in Murtaugh. They bedded down Misty for a few nights when Howard passed through on his horseback ride across America.

An hour later, near sunset, we pulled into the Bell Ranch with Zeb, Deann and their kids sitting around a campfire in the front yard.

“Well I’ll be damned,” said Zeb. “It’s the Wooldridge brothers on iron horses.”

Handshaking and hugs all around. We met the daughters, sons and kids. We sat and talked for the rest of the evening. Downhome great folks!

(Camping out in a grassy field with the sun going down.)

Next morning, Deann cooked a fabulous breakfast. Zeb interviewed us on his radio station: Zeb at the Ranch. He’s quite famous in those parts. He’s a member of the Idaho Rodeo Hall of Fame. He interviews top personalities across the nation. Zeb projects a wicked wit, compassion, and downhome common sense.

When he interviewed Wayne, he captured everyone’s interest that a 70-year-old man would ride a bicycle across America. “Wayne,” I said. “You just inspired thousands of senior citizens to forge toward new adventures in their own lives.”

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“That was a lot of fun,” said Wayne.

“What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” $B!= (B Jack Kerouac, On the Road

© 2014 Frosty Wooldridge - All Rights Reserved

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Frosty Wooldridge possesses a unique view of the world, cultures and families in that he has bicycled around the globe 100,000 miles, on six continents and six times across the United States in the past 30 years. His published books include: "HANDBOOK FOR TOURING BICYCLISTS"; “STRIKE THREE! TAKE YOUR BASE”; “IMMIGRATION’S UNARMED INVASION: DEADLY CONSEQUENCES”; “MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURE TO ALASKA: INTO THE WIND—A TEEN NOVEL”; “BICYCLING AROUND THE WORLD: TIRE TRACKS FOR YOUR IMAGINATION”; “AN EXTREME ENCOUNTER: ANTARCTICA.” His next book: “TILTING THE STATUE OF LIBERTY INTO A SWAMP.” He lives in Denver, Colorado.






As we pedaled out of town, we headed east on I-84 with stiff winds pushing eastward until we reached county road Route 30 toward Bliss, Idaho. We passed Albion, Almo, Oakley, City of Rocks, Wards, Durfies. Little towns where people worked at farming, construction, roofing and small businesses. We pedaled 95 miles with 25 mph tailwinds blowing us down the road.