On the Road to CCH!
Dan Wills, Manager/Technician at Grandpa's Compounding Pharmacy in Placerville, Calif., has chosen a different mode of travel to IACP's Compounders on Capitol Hill being held in Washington, D.C., June 1-4, 2013. Dan is traveling by trike! Read his road journal as he heads towards the nation's Capitol on three wheels!
Let me introduce myself for those that don’t know me. I am Dan Wills, the son of Bill Wills, founder of Grandpa’s Compounding Pharmacy. I am the manager/marketer/tech. I have been coming to CCH every year since 2001 and also work a lot with our own State Board.
So why am I riding? Because it is fun. When I was 12 years old, several of my friends went on a trip from Placerville, Calif. to Spanish Fork, Utah. I wanted to go, but didn’t have a bike that would make it. I always regretted missing that trip and wanted to do some touring. I spent two years in Japan with a bike being my only personal transportation, and got very good. When I came home, I was actually asked to train with the U.S. Olympic team because I passed them on the road one day. I couldn’t see myself training for 6 hours a day, just to do some races. But the dream of tours never left me. I got married, had 5 kids and never had the time to be able to go. Well, the kids are gone, so now I can do it. However, as I have gotten older, it has been harder to spend long times on a bike without my hands going to sleep. I also was noticing the pressure on my wrists and shoulders. Then one of our customers came in on a recumbent trike. I tried it and was hooked. For those that want to try one, find a dealer around you and they will usually have some you can test. Or if you are coming to CCH, you are welcome to try mine. Look me up. Everybody who has tried mine has loved it also. It is like a go cart. It takes the same energy to move it since it is still pedal powered, but it is comfortable.
Last year I did my first tour. It was 400 miles from the Oregon border with California down to Sacramento. I was by myself, but met many others on my journey who were also touring. I came down the coast line, into the mountains, through the redwoods, passed through beautiful farmland, crossed the Sacramento River and into the city. It was difficult, but a wonderful trip. I decided I want to do this each year.
On the way to a conference last fall, I sat next to somebody from Pennsylvania. I am sorry, I forgot his name. Let me know, if you read this and I will put your name in. I really appreciated the information. We were talking about my trip and he mentioned the Great Allegheny Passage, a 335-mile bike trail from Pittsburgh to Washington DC. I was intrigued and thought I would like to go someday. When I looked into it, I found that it was better than I thought and that I could tie it in with my trip to CCH. The only extra cost will be $100 to take an extra-large piece of luggage on the plane. So the trip was on.
I started looking for the equipment I would need. I didn’t want to take a large sleeping bag and tent like I did last summer. I would also need to plan on rain. We don’t have to worry about that a lot when camping in California. So all winter, I tried different sleeping bags and tents until I found a set up that I could use in cool weather as well as hot. I am glad I did that too. Looking at the weather report now, there will be one night where we dip down to 35ºF. The high on the trip will be 91ºF. That is a wide range of temperatures to prepare for. I am also supposed to get a thunderstorm with lots of rain on one day and another with showers. I have worked with Boy Scouts for 45 years as a youth (I made Eagle) and as a leader. Camping isn’t new to me. I will take some jerky that I made, some natural trail mix, dried fruit, protein powder, and some honey in case something happens and I can’t get to a town, even though there are towns all up and down the trail. I plan on my main meals at restaurants.
I am flying to Pittsburgh on Saturday the 25th and will get to the campsite that night. After that, I will go to church Sunday. The real trip will start on Monday. I plan on going 60 miles per day, or until I decide to stop. I will send my conference cloths by mail to the hotel so I don’t have to carry them.
May 25 2013
Well, I got up this morning at 2:30 a.m. to catch a 6am flight. I packaged my bags in a way that I thought would work. My trike is in a soft cover car carrier with straps wrapped all the way around. I wrapped the delicate parts in foam and bubble wrap. My other bags are in a duffle bag that rolls up real small. When I got to the airport everything checked in just fine. The lines were long and I got to the gate just as they were boarding us.
When I got to baggage claim in Pittsburgh, the trike was missing. I wasn't worried, because if I were handling it, I probably wouldn't have put it on the conveyor belt. So I checked with baggage department and sure enough that was the same conclusion they had come up with. After waiting about 2 minutes they came up with my bike. Ground transportation was quite a ways away. So instead stead of renting a wheeled cart for my luggage at $4.75, I put my trike together at baggage claim and wheeled everything on that. I got a Super Shuttle. Unfortunately they decided that the address I gave them didn't exist, and they plugged in another address instead. When I told the driver where I wanted to go he ignored what the counter had told him and took me down to the waterfront. That is where I where the bike trail goes through. Unfortunately he said it was about five miles from where I was planning on camping and it was starting to get dark. So after getting all my bags in order im taking pictures for himself, I forgot to get any for me, I took off. He was wrong also about how far away I was. And because I got lost several times I still don't know how far away I was.
They have many signs telling you where to go. But by the time I was really going it was dark. Some of the signs I missed and a couple of them I didn't understand. For example when they send you down residential streets the wrong way on a one way road I got a little nervous. But they did that twice on me. After taking several wrong turns and backtracking, I finally was following a trail that was well marked. However, I was climbing into some hills, not following the river. That did not make sense to me. So after a while I looked more at my map. I compared with the next city that was supposed to be the next destination on this trail, and found that I was on the wrong trail. By this point it was midnight. I found an open field on the trail and set up my tent.
I traveled 18.5 miles at eight point for miles per hour average. My top speed was 25 miles per hour. Actual riding time was 2 hours and 10 minutes.
May 26, 2013
Well it turns out I was six and a half miles off course. When I backtracked, I found there weren't any signs telling me which way to go. I was able to find the way by using the map. I made it to church and talked to a couple people who were also going to go on the same trip this weekend. They put it off and aren't sure when they're going to go. I also talked to another man who finished the same trip 2 weeks a
go. He gave me some advice on where to go and what restaurants to eat at. I filled up my water and then got back on the road. It turns out I left a souvenir there. I left my sunglasses at the church. Oh well, somebody will enjoy them.
Today was going to be a day where I didn't ride. I had already packed up my stuff though so I decided to continue to the campground that I planned on going to begin with. It turns out that campground wasn't 3 miles away as I have understood, but was about 10 miles away. So my mistake was probably a good thing. I was able to get a good night sleep at a nice campsite. Had I tried to go to the Dravo Cemetery, it would've taken longer. I did think it would be fun to say that I slept at the cemetery in peace. When I got there somebody had told me of other camp sites down the road. I decided to go to Cedar Creek Park. I want a total of 29 a half miles at an average speed 8.4 miles per hour. Actual time in the saddle was 3 hours in 30 minutes
The trail is made of crushed limestone. For those from home it is like the decomposed granite used to make trails in Old Sacramento or in Coloma. The trail is fairly smooth and nice to ride on. And I have found the trail is generally flat. That means riding a little differently than I'm used to. Moving forward always means I have to peddle. That means my legs never get a break unless I stop. In the hills where I'm used to riding, I don't have to peddle for some of the way and I can still move forward. So it’
s a different kind of riding. Even though it's not difficult riding, I still was tired today. I recalculated because of riding little bit less yesterday and today. I should make it at 50 miles a day instead of the 60 I was planning on. That will be nice.
Have seen some waterfalls on the side of the trail. The one shown here is leaving a white mineral deposit and there wasn't a sign saying what that was. The other was leaving a red deposit and the sign says it was sulfur from mines. I guess sulfur here is a different color than the sulfur I'm used to. There must be other stuff mixed with it. But it did have a sulfur smell.
May 27, 2013
I didn't mention it in my first entry but the temperature dropped down to 37 degrees on my first night. It is 35 degrees at 6:15 this morning. I am glad I brought heavier sleeping bag with me. I have never understood why so many the Pioneers complained about the plains. They talked about it just going on for ever and didn't feel like they were making any progress. This trail is giving me a small taste of that. I'm not complaining, but it is amazing how mentally taxing it is when everything is generally flat. There's plenty to see and do, there's trees, the river, and houses occasionally. This morning I have seen deer, many rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, a raccoon, an eagle and many other birds. There also have been many people walking their pets.
It's been a wonderful morning. I'm just amazed at how this gentle climb that is not even noticeable can be so taxing on the muscles. In fact mentally it looks like it's downhill for much of the time. I stopped my trike and let it roll just to see. Sure enough I was going backwards.
I rode more than 52 miles today at an average speed of 8.1 miles per hour. My top speed was 15 miles per hour when I went down a foot decline. I coasted the first time today. It did rain a little bit today, but I was more wet from the moisture coming out of me then the moisture falling on me. So I didn't put any rain clothes on.
Stay tuned - more road tales to come.
May 28 2013.
This morning I got up late because it has been raining outside and I was hoping the rain would stop. I went to the Sisters Cafe in Confluence, Pa., where I met two other bikers. They were talking about all the rain and thunder last night and were glad that they had stayed in a hotel. I was nice and comfy in my tent. I had tested it this winter in the rain and it worked just fine so I didn't have to worry. Sure enough when I got up in the morning there was plenty of water outside but I was nice and dry.
While I was getting breakfast I washed my dirty clothes. The riding has been difficult because of the rain. My tires are sinking about a quarter to one half inch. It is like riding in the sand.
Saw a snake as well some animals. I noticed the raccoons here have red fur instead of a grey fur like in Northern California. At one point, I saw what looks like a white fox playing in the rain. I have never heard of a white fox. Neither had the owner of the bike shop. I got my binoculars to look closer, but it'd left by the time I could look. I guess I will never know for sure.
Was getting very discouraged. The trail just kept going, and the incline was taking its toll on me. A big thunderstorm came through and it actually gave me some energy. That storm lasted for about an hour. About five miles before the Eastern Continental Divide, I stopped and took a nap in my trike. Finally I reached the divide.
Going from there was more exciting. I had eight and a half miles to go before hitting Frostburg, Md. I was planning on sleeping there at a campground. Now I could see the difference in the incline. My earlier average was 7.1 miles per hour climbing the hill. I averaged more than 15 miles per hour going down the other side. At one point I got up to 23 miles per hour on some pavement. I have noticed the paved surface allows me to do about 25 to 33 percent faster. On the way down, I also crossed the Mason Dixon line. That's the line between Pennsylvania and Maryland. There was a long tunnel where the temperature drops considerably. The tunnel was even foggy inside.
When I got to Frostburg, I had to climb a hill. This hill was probably only 200 yards long, but I had to stop four times to keep going. When I got to the top of the hill, the campground was closed. So I got back on the trail - found a road off the side that hadn't been used for years, went down it a ways and camped.