The Journey


Monday, August 31, 2015

August 31 Great Allegheny Passage Bicycle Path

I will try to ride the 38 miles from my cheap motel in Belle Vernon to Ohiopyle a location on the GAP, the Great Allegheny Passage bicycle trail, and then ride another 4 plus miles to Mill Run where Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water is situated. And then ride to a campground again on the GAP. This last bit of riding might be 4 miles or it might be 16 miles depending on the campsites. 

Yesterday I took a much needed rest day. I had ridden about 480 miles and climbed over 11,330 feet in the previous 10 days. That includes the last four days of extremely difficult - had to walk the bike up many of the hills - 200 miles and 7,800 feet of climbing.

By a rest day I mean that I only rode a 15 mile round trip on the GAP to West Newton to check it out. What a beautiful bicycle setting. The GAP is a combination of old railroad line routes turned into a recreational trail for hikers, bikers, and some horse use. The section I saw yesterday runs along the banks of the Youghiogheny River, that joins the Ohio River in Pittsburgh. 

This riding will require an early start, between dawn and sunrise. With rested legs and a railroad graded bike path this should be a piece of cake. Some places on earth make my heart sing. The Russian River is such a place. I have vacationed on it since I was a new born baby. The Youghiogheny River reminds me very much of the Russian River valley. 

It was Sunday and there were lots of folks out with friends and families, fishing, boating, picnicking, camping, running, and biking.  I talked to a couple that were bicycle camping along the path. They both had trailers and their dog rode in one. They gave me confidence that I would be able to do the same. 

It might be that it is the water that runs through Falling Water that is what attracts me to it so much. Ever since I have seen photos of FLW’s master piece I have wanted to see it. It was purely happenstance that I get this opportunity to see and walk into it. It is its nearby presence to the GAP that originally sold me on taking this path for this final leg to DC. That and the last straw of course is the very rugged Appalachian hills. 

Peace from just a few days out from DC.

Friday, August 28, 2015

August 28 Last Big Ride

Off to Washington PA
54 miles and a 2582 climb, through WV to PA
After that it will be about 320 miles to DC, along a bicycle path with very low grades.

Yesterday’s ride was nine hours. Today’s might even be 10 hours. Slow but sure -as sure as I can be- is the way to do this.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

August 26 Roughly 500 More Miles to DC

Roughly 500 More Miles to DC and 13 days to DC. 
I’m in Columbus heading for three hard days of riding: 
52 miles and a 1575 climb
54 miles and a 2146 climb, my last night in OH.
53 miles and a 2415 climb, through WV to PA

I will then be able to ride the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal Tow Path for relatively easy rides.

Monday, August 24, 2015

August 24 A Peace Dispatch From Yellow Spring Ohio

I tell people that I am riding across the country to talk to my congressman and they almost aways respond with something like, good luck with that. This morning as I was leaving the home of a childhood friend who now lives in Dayton OH, two of his neighbors out walking their dogs stopped me. “Where did you get those bags for your bicycle?”  That lead to “do you have room on your bike for two more?” One guy was my age the other was 91 and he looked about 80. I could hardly get a word in as the younger of the two talked about all the different possibilities for technically fixing the climate change issue. But they both expressed hopelessness of Congress doing the will of the people instead of that of the ruling class. 

And that brings me to this deal with Iran. Over 62 years ago we destabilized and overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran. It was the Dulles Brothers foreign policy, holding both the CIA and the State Department hostage to their ideology of what benefits US companies benefits the world view. The installed American ruler lasted a quarter century until he was ousted by the Iranian revolution that brought us the rule of the mullahs. Now we have an opportunity to rectify our recent past history and allow Iran a normal national development into the twenty-first century. 

In the 230 plus years of our history, the history of the United States, Iran has not attacked another country. They have formed alliances with others in their region of the world with folks we don’t much cotton to, but they have not attacked anyone. They have signed the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and have abided by its mandates. They did not developed the capacity to make an atomic weapon until after extreme aggressive provocation by our previous administration. It is time for US to allow Iran back into the fold of the world community of nations and this agreement is the most likely path to accomplish that end. 

Members of Congress in both the Senate and the House need to step up and support this agreement or it will be US that will become ostracized from the community of nations. And given that there exists so much opposition from the evangelists of war, they need to step forward and actively promote the passage of this agreement.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

August 23 Towns and Cities Remaing

Dayton OH next

An optimist’s view of what is remaining.

Springfield/Xenia/Yellow Springs



Quaker City
Valley Grove
West Newton



Mill Run


Little Orleans



Washington DC

Saturday, August 22, 2015

August 22 Posted From the Knightstown Diner

Tomorrow night I will be staying with a childhood friend who now lives just outside Dayton OH. From there, I will then ride to Springfield and towards Columbus OH. I have been told that I should try to stop in Xenia and in Yellow Springs. Both are on the bicycle road from Dayton to Springfield. So if you know anyone in those towns let them know I will be there Monday or Tuesday. There will be a lot of hill climbing once I leave Dayton.
Peace from Cumberland just east of Indianapolis, IN. Well the internet is too slow to post from here. Will post later. 

I will be posting at: 
You can find me on Facebook <>
or email me directly at
Give me a call 707-393-1948. 

I’d love to hear from you on my journey

Friday, August 21, 2015

August 21 Plainfield IN

Across the street from my motel tonight

Where I learned what a Whitecastle burger tastes like after nearly 50 years. I first heard about these mini burgers when I started college, they were eaten after a Friday night’s exploits and before you went home to your parents. On the west coast we had Taco Bell for this purpose. 

Plainfield is also the place that my rear tire was finally fixed. I met a group of bicyclists at the eastern head of the National Road Heritage Trail while leaving Terre Haute. They asked about my ride and then told me about Gear Up Cyclery in Plainfield when I asked them about my recurring flat tire. I had not planned on riding that far yesterday, just about 60 miles. By noon I had reached my general destination so I decided to carry on to Plainfield. Even a highway patrolman recommended to Gear Up to me. 

Bicyclists along the way were speculating that a spoke was causing the problem. I was thinking that maybe a small piece of steel belted tire webbing was the issue. It turned out to be a piece of street sweeper bristle.
2,700 miles from home

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

August 19 Road Hazards - Gutter Grates

A tire trap

I have been asked to write about how-to bicycling questions. 

I have found many rain gutter grates that look like this. Without warning there they are, blocking my passage. Sometimes I am on a city street, going about 7 miles an hour, and I can stop. At others I am traveling downhill on highways at close to twenty miles an hour. I mostly ride on the right side of the right-hand lane and stay out of the gutters to avoid these bicycle hazards.

August 19 Road Hazards - Dogs

A generic chocolate lab that resembles one that chased me yesterday. 

I have been asked to write about how-to bicycling questions. One thing that folks who have ridden before warned me of were dogs. Dogs are predators and like to chase prey. Bicyclists look like prey to dogs. I was told that I could set the bicycle brakes to squeal loudly and to do this just as the dog is about to bite your ankle. Or I could carry a long bicycle pump and swing it as the dog approaches. Other deterrents that you can buy include air horns and mace/pepper spray. I have managed to not use any of those methods. 

What has worked for me is stopping. I have a loud construction-site voice when necessary and NO works most of the time. When in Grants NM, in the pueblo country, I learned an extra trick. I carry a cable to secure my bike when I stop for a meal. I decided to leave the cable exposed and at the ready when I left my lunch rest and it came in handy right away. That was serendipity.

One dog will easily back down, they are pack animals and derive encouragement from others. More than one can be more difficult. As I was riding on back roads, NM has a lot of cattle guards -open grating in the roadway to prevent animals from crossing, I approached a fenced in property with a cattle guard instead of a gate. I felt good until the three barking dogs went right through a large hole in the fence, avoiding the cattle guard.

I stopped and shouted NO, many times, and that slowed them some. I then found my cable and whirled it above my head. That did stop them but only as I stood still. After about five minutes of me whirling and trying to walk away, I managed 50 feet, two Native American Police showed up in black suburbans and arrested the dogs. I tired to save them the arrest record but to no avail. Liberal hippie logic lost to their view that, chasing dogs cause accidents.

But mostly stopping and the big NO has worked very well for me.

August 19 Another Rain Delay - Terre Haute IN

Rain delay

Guinness record for wind chimes 
 I will be spending another night in Terre Haute. It rained a lot last night and it will rain again today -thunder storm- late morning and this afternoon. It will be dry the next five days.

Here are some photos from Casey IL, a small town that had an oil boom in the early 1900’s. It is seeking another Guinness world record.
Under construction largest rocking chair

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

August 18 So Close Yet So Far

A Kindred Spirit

For my liberal friends who think that any Democrat can beat any Republican in next year’s elections. Please take heed.

At my entry into the cafe I was greeted by four women who were sitting over their coffee. Such morning groupings at local diners are not uncommon in small communities. What separated these women from others is the warm welcome they gave me, driven by their curiosity of a senior citizen bicyclist in their small town.

“Where are you from? Are you just passing through?”
“I’m riding my bicycle across the country.”
“Where did you start?”
“ I started in San Francisco and rode to LA and then to here.”
“You must be riding for a mission. Where are you headed?”
“I’m going to DC to talk to my congressman.”
“Oh, they are all no good.” This is a common response among most people when I start to tell them why I am riding.
“Mine is pretty good. He’s an environmentalist and so am I. I’m riding because SF is just a few feet above sea level and sea level rise and global warming climate change is important to us.”
“Well everyone knows that climate change is happening, it’s just not OK to single out the US and make us make all the changes while the rest of the world runs amok.”
“That’s why I am riding for Peace and Environmental Justice. We can’t solve this if those in Washington are starting wars. We need others cooperation. And the justice part means we need to work with others to come to a solution.”
“Well I think things will change once we make a change in Washington. Once that thing is out of office. I don’t know what he is, but he certainly is not an American.”
“ Well we agree on some things we don’t agree on everything. I better get some coffee.”

Later someone from that table bought me my breakfast and the workers came out and took a picture of me and the bike.

Monday, August 17, 2015

August 17 Memorial Day To Labor Day

This means that Washington DC is within 3 weeks!!
Getting ready to leave St Louis

Tom's truck reminds me of one of my cars
I am in Altamont Il, about 100 miles from St Louis. I am riding about 40 miles a day right now, a thought I have a hard time comprehending. Here are two photos of me in front of Tom’s house and his truck. I met Tom over the internet, he is a Veterans For Peace Organizer. It was really great to have a conversation with him and his family over two days. 

2,500 miles and finally a farmer is advertising Non- GMO

Using Google Maps to plot my ride and my childhood friends, brothers Bill and Ken who have told me that I must take  the Great Allegheny Passage bicycle route. It is a rails to trails route that I will take, the final inducement is that Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Water” is on the trail. With stops in Indianapolis, Dayton, and the GAP it will be 864 mies.

What impressed me about this statue is the strength portrayed.  And she is wearing boots for working in the mud!

From Vandalia IL, the capital where Lincoln served.

This means that Washington DC is within 3 weeks!! At some point in my Capitol stay I will ride to Annapolis and put my front tire in the Atlantic, about a 36 mile ride. Additionally, 45 years ago I took a four year college course at St Mary’s of California that is based on St John’s Book College headquartered in Annapolis. I will want to see that school. 

So the 3 weeks to DC is an estimate, a time estimate and as all those who know me well these are seldom perfect. I should arrive in DC on

Labor Day weekend, how fitting is that, to having left San Rafael on Memorial Day.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

August 15 Happy Birthday Mike

St Louis Arch from the Federal Reserve Bank Plaza

The Mississippi and the Arch

Alive and well in Illinois, but trying to fix my fourth flat rear tire in the last 900 miles. Now with a broken pump as well.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

August 13 A Day Of Bicycle Maintenance 980 Miles From DC

I am staying with Tom’s family here in St Louis. He is a member of Veterans For Peace and involved in many other causes. Today I had my bicycle tuned up and it is ready to go tomorrow or maybe Saturday depending on what is up with others here in St Louis. I also spent some hours in Kirkwood City's Public Library plotting my next week of riding. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

August 11

Manage to get out of bed and off to Washington MO, 37 miles along the Katy Trail. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

August 10 Resting in Hermann MO

After riding 220 miles and climbing 2,700 feet in the last four days my legs and the rest of me are resting today.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

August 9 From Boonville to DC

there are some great people in Missouri here are six

After riding 52 miles mostly along the Katy Trail I was too tired to be able to post last night. And to top  the ride off the last two miles included a climb that seemed to be 1,000 feet high over just a few blocks. But I don’t want to take away from the signature part of yesterday, being that I had meaningful conversations with six people.

Terry, a retired construction worker.
The tone of the day was set at an old style cafe diner. Toast, potatoes, eggs and coffee are the fuel of this bicyclist, high on the glycemic index and high on caffeine. It was a two mile ride from my motel to this cafe, the very last storefront in Boonville before the bridge over the Missouri, last chances do happen. There was another slightly younger man also in the cafe and we combined tables and talked about our lives and the forces that brought us together yesterday morning. It was one of those conversations, disclosing parts of ourselves, that I will sometimes have with a stranger I will never meet again. 

Our conversation concerned each of our journeys, our similarities, and of the presence of spirituality in our lives. I am not a practicing religious person but I am also still very much the person that once wanted to become a priest. Now if there ever was a physical setting to be in when contemplating spirituality bicycling along Missouri River is it. Early this morning it was very warm and moist. So much so that whenever I stopped pedaling for a moment my glasses would fog up. 

Vapor permeates the air. The land is lush with vegetation and critters. And the Katy Trail separates riders from the presence of the hustle of modern vehicular traffic. There are monuments along its path that took me back to stories of my youth, Daniel Boone and Lewis and Clark. Outdoor explorers that conjured memories of my father’s youth and of the family camping trips, his legacy to his children, that we still take today. That was a very good cup of coffee yesterday morning.

Tim, the friendly cynic.
About an hour into the ride another fellow also about my age pulled along side of me and we talked for a bit. He has ridden this route regularly his whole life. We had a short conversation before he sprinted off brought to a quick close with his pronouncement that profit and greed is the motivation for war. We would meet again farther down the trail when I stopped and talked to him while he fixed a flat tire. 

Tina and George
It was a Saturday and that brings more traffic to the Katy. I was not the only bicyclist with panniers and backpack. It is a great place to be in the open and get away from the work week rat race. This couple are very much younger than me but still at the age where George is trying to find a means out of construction. He has nearly completed is curricula for a degree in environmentalism. 

Tina and George and I leapfrogged along the trail, each stopping a various locations to rest and eat. This trail is an old railroad line that stopped at each community, I am assuming to collect the harvest and deliver supplies to the hamlets along the way. They were riding as practice for a potential trip to Alaska and then down the Pacific Coast into South America. At one stop they were telling another bicyclist about my journey. 

The day had been threatening rain, in Missouri at this time of year that generally means thunder and lightening. Before Tim had finished fixing his flat he told me that a good place to stop if the storm arrived is Catfish Kate’s, a small convince store near a recreational park along the river. And as I could not disregard the increase in frequency of the drops any longer a just accumulated dew I did stop and met Louie. He is a young man minding the store for friends who were away for a few days. We chatted and he was very supportive of my ride and he told me of a lecture he had recently heard about spreading desertification of agricultural land. The lecture included a solution that reminded me very much of the Marin Carbon Project, that employed managing grazing in sub-Saharan Africa and was having success in pushing back the desert and increasing the lost carbon content of the soil. I had given my next to last leaflet to Tina and George so Louie got my Facebook link.

And finally the younger me.
I was resting in Hartsburg on what I thought was a public picnic table. I was moments too late for the local cafe. In many of the towns in this part of the world the homes do not have fences. The houses seemed to have been set on a continuous lawn that never needs watering just a lot of mowing. As I was snacking on my traveling food supply I heard a man ask where was I headed. When I told him just north of San Francisco he came over and we chatted for awhile. I often answer that question with, I going to DC to talk to my Congressman about climate change and peace.  And this is true. A friend from Marin has put me into contact with Jared Huffman’s office and we might well meet up if we are both in DC at the same time. 

I am also hoping to be in DC while the the Pope is addressing Congress. I find his message to the more than one billion Catholics of the world refreshing reminiscent of John the 23rd’s convocation in the early 60’s. Pope Francis is calling for the transformation of the world’s economy to address the needs of the environment as well as the needs of the majority of working people. This young man is in his thirties and is trying to run his construction company, residential and commercial. He was very concerned about our environment, talked of the aging nuclear power plant not far from Jefferson City, a of the cynicism of our politicians. He had many ideas for alternative forms of electricity including using the force to the Missouri River. 

I will be in St Louis in three days and 140 miles. I hope to connect with a fellow I connected with from Veterans For Peace. I hope to hear about their recent annual convention in San Diego, and with luck meet other peace and environmental activists as well. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

August 7 In Clinton

I am impatient to complete this ride across America and come back home. Yesterday I found myself in Clinton Missouri and it was not yet noon. So I took a break and decided to ride another 40 miles to Sedalia. Those 80 miles, well mostly the last 40 were a bit too much. I have to be more patient.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

August 6 It’s a Dialectic

Every moment is the embodiment of the past and the future, the thesis and the antithesis of the essence of the moment. Thousands of years before Marx Plato and Socrates figured this out. Today is the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Three days later Nagasaki was bombed. Truman announced to the world that we bombed Hiroshima and called that city of tens of thousands a military base. 

We are 15 months away from another national election and we have an opportunity to choose a people driven campaign or we can choose to allow again the elite -super rich- choose for us. The fact of the matter is that in our elections there exist a possibility of one of two winners, third parties can only become spoilers or at best serve as a protest to the elite driven process. 

The consequences of allowing another centrist democrat or a right republican to take the presidency will be devastating and unrecoverable. It will take a plurality of 170 million voters, a large turnout will be required, to turn the USA and the rest of the world back on track of climate security. Next month the Pope will address our government with his message of climate and economic reformation. We have only one candidate who is openly stating that it is up to us, and is relying on us, to take back this democracy. Now is the time there is no tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

August 5 Waiting for the Storm in Butler MO

Well there are some like this farmer, but there also some very friendly folks, sometimes residing in the same person.

The weather report predicts heavy thunderstorm, rain and hail for later this morning. Most of my life I have ignored rain reports and gone about my business then dealt with the rain when it came. There are not many places along my next route to hide out so I am just sitting here in a motel room waiting. Maybe later today, the storm is predicted to be only a couple of hours, I can ride a little bit closer to Clinton MO. There is the beginning of the Katy Trail, a rails to trails path that connects Clinton and St Louis.  The name Katy comes from a contraction of MKT, the Missouri Kansas Texas Rail. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

August 4 I Made It to Ft Scott and Headed to St Louis

Here's Fred, a gift from Lizard Lips Cafe, on Hwy 54 KS. 

But had to sleep for 12 hours. Yesterday I rode into Missouri, the city of Nevada, which was only a 20 mile ride. Weather permitting, and I think the reports are saying that Wednesday I will not be able to ride, I should be in the St Louis area by August 11. So if I miss a day it will be 8-12. 

I will spend Wednesday, 8-5, researching folks I can meet in St Louis. The eight day ride will cover 341 miles while climbing 3,100 feet. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

August 2 Off to Ft Scott KS

I need to get going it is already very warm at 6:35AM and I need to ride 62 miles today.

Why I Ride reposted monthly

I repost this piece every month so that those who come upon this blog will know why I am riding, and because it has my contact information in case you may want to communicate with me. 

Im Bicycling for Peace and Environmental Justice.
I will be leaving Marin CA for Washington DC on Memorial Day. I view this as a necessary pilgrimage for me. I want to raise awareness that climate change, which threatens our civilization, is only intensified by war, and that there is no solution to climate change that does not include peace.

Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fifth Assessment Report 2013

This is the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a demarcation notifying us that industrial warfare can end civilization. Clearly we the people of this earth are at a critical juncture, whether to work in peaceful cooperation to solve the consequences of climate change or whether out of fear we wreak havoc through war. Polls show we have collectively lost trust that our good intentions are the leading motives of our leaders’ actions. My hope lies in the faith that we can change this and that in other countries there are people such as us.

But we are accustomed to viewing issues as independent of each other. War and the environment as not connected. And yet our Department of Defense has been telling us for many years now that climate change is a serious national security threat. Indeed it is a global security threat that is destabilizing our world. We must understand that military force forgoes the international cooperation needed for solving our climate problem. War reverses all of our progress on improving environmental standards. It is extremely carbon intensive. Our task is to stand firm against the evangelists of war and to reject their fear mongering. The rejection of militarism is necessary - it is the only course towards climate solutions.

The effects of climate change are not limited to melting Arctic ice sheets.
Climate change drought is causing civil strife and provoking war. A multi-year drought in Syria caused the migration of the rural population into the cities and threatened the stability of their imperfect government that has turned into ‘a major civil war with international involvement.’ Scientific studies report that in Sub-Saharan Africa there is a 30-year correlation of climate changes ‘with an increase in the likelihood of civil war.’ Additionally food shortages caused by climate change have been found to be a contributing factor in the Arab Spring uprisings. Scientific American, March 2, 2015

The world population is on course to increase 30% in the next few decades. Many countries are now incapable of producing enough food for their current population. Overdrawn aquifers and drought have depleted once abundant land. Additionally sea level rise will diminish many productive river deltas from food production.

Americans have a special role to play in world affairs.
The US accounts for nearly half of all military spending worldwide. Our leaders are correct in telling us that we are the strongest military power on earth. What they leave out is that this great force is limited to destruction and chaos as evidenced by its recent use in conflicts from Afghanistan to Iraq from Libya to Syria. We have given the whole of the 20th century to perpetual war. How much time can we give to peaceful solutions, to negotiated solutions?

It takes significant fear-mongering to turn people towards war. The images of the World Trade Towers falling and the beheadings of innocents are such propaganda. These are real events, horrifying, and they terrorize us. What we fail to see is that our interventionist policies and militaristic actions are part of the cause and are not the solution. It is our responsibility, if we are serious about reversing climate change, that we face our fears and question closely what alternatives there are for this violence. 

What outcomes are forgone by following the path of war? 
What are possible unintended consequences? 
What can be gained by peaceful initiatives? 

International cooperation, the hallmark of peace, is necessarily part of the solution. We cannot wage war or threaten to do so and at the same time expect to receive the assistance we need to reverse the level of atmospheric greenhouse gases.

We can chose leaders that have a track record for constructive action.
We have to demand of our leaders that they abandon acting like 19th-century imperialists, militarily dominating others for their resources. It doesn’t add to our security and in fact it puts us in greater jeopardy. And it is completely unnecessary in a global economy. We need to end war as it is the antithesis of the peaceful cooperation we need. Climate change is the real threat to our security. Environmentalists need to assert that there exists no military path to climate security.

Dan Monte

I will be posting at: 
You can find me on Facebook <>
or email me directly at
Give me a call 707-393-1948. 

I’d love to hear from you on my journey

Saturday, August 1, 2015

August 1 Monday I Will Be In Missouri

Today was a day of milestones. Since leaving San Rafael I have ridden over 2000 miles and have climbed over 44,000 feet. Additionally there have been more than 3,200 page views of this blog.

This eastern part of Kansas has very shallow top soil. I was told today that it’s no more than 8 to 12 inches. You can see the weathered rock layers in these photos. 

The brother-in-law of Lizard Lips Cafe and Country Store about 12 miles west of Yates Center told me about the soil and gave me a small toy lizard that they give to all bicyclists that come through this area. That includes the Race Across America event and other organized rides.  A photo of the lizard will have to wait until tomorrow.

August 1 Back to Open Country

I’m about 130 west of the Kansas-Missouri border. There are three opportunities to stop for the night along the way, either at 30, 60, or 80 miles from El Dorado where I spent last night. Ft Scot is just about on the border and 90 miles south of Kansas City.