Tim Olson

This year I completed 25 years of teaching health education at a middle school in Skokie, Illinois. Greetings to all my students! Everyday I challenge my students to lead healthy lives, and this tour allows me to practice what I teach. I love cycling and the physical challenge it brings. It also provides me with numerous stories which I oten inflict on my students.

The ride this year is my third PAC tour, and every time I look forward to the physical and mental challenge it brings. Each day will bring its own special challenges and rewards. After a few days I expect that the trip will develop its own rhythm. Some days will be solo rides where I can contemplate the ever changing scenery. On other days the miles will pass in conversation with my cycling companions.

I expect easy days and hard nights -- wet days and windy days -- scenic days and dreary days -- In the end I will be exhausted and renewed. I will be ready to face new challenges in my teaching with new strength and the knowledge that I can do it. Lord willing, my third PAC tour will not be my last. (Isaiah 40:31)

June 2: Bloomington

Every journey begins with anticipation and fear. My day began at 4:00 AM and since I live near the start I rode away from my home in Skokie on my way to Santa Monica CA. It was an odd feeling knowing I would not be returning home from my ride. After joining the other riders we all rode together down the lakefront to Grant Park where Route 66 actually began. The weather was great and we were able to ride through and out of Chicago without any problems. When we got out on the open road the wind picked up from the south and we knew this would be a challenge. I was able to find three other cyclists in the group with similar abilities, and through cooperation we were able to complete the day. Whew! The wind was in our face for hours and was at least 20 MPH. We finished the day after 10:39 hours of riding. The total mileage was 160 miles! We already met people who were excited to meet us and tell us about route 66. We expect that to continue.

June 3: Litchfield

The most important tv program for cross country cyclists is the weather channel. After studying this channel we determined that today would be a good day. It was. We faced strong headwinds in the morning, but after a "fat-free" lunch at the Cozy Dog in Springfield, (corndogs and fries) the weather shifted the the WNW and we were able to make better time. The temperature was cool all day and that was welcomed. The old 66 road was very bumpy in spots today. My hands and other parts are sore, so I will sign off for today. If you are part of my exercise challenge I hope you are sticking to your schedule. Oh yes, today I finished the ride in seven hours of riding with the mileage being about 116 miles.

June 4: Gray Summit

As I rolled down the steep hill I noticed a sign that said "right turn 20 mph". A glance at my odometer revealed a speed of 40 mph. A quick braking enabled me to negotiate the turn without a problem. A few miles later we passed Six Flags amusement park and I reflected why such a place holds no thrill for me. Cross country cyclists live real adventures not sanitized pseudo thrill rides. But I digress - Today we traveled from the plains of Illinois to the hills of Missouri. We were delayed by bridge construction and busy roads, but the weather was great and Ted Drewes Custard in St. Louis was worth the trip. I traveled 110 miles in 7:45 miles of bike time (with delays 10 hours total) Tomorrow we climb!

June 5: Lebanon

The waitress at the Bopper restaurant reminded me of my Aunt Mildred. As she took my order she remarked that the forecast for today was for rain either tonight or tomorrow. Then she added that forecasters are always wrong. I reflected on that remark about one hour later as I hurriedly put on my rain jacket , and rode about 20 miles in heavy rain. The rain was inconvenient, but at least the traffic was light and the road for that hour was realitively flat. When the rain stopped the hills returned and stayed with us the rest of the day. The country in central Missouri is rollling hills and quite beautiful. One bit of excitement for the day was passing a huge fire that turned out to be a motel (not ours). I rode most of the day with Jerry, who is a very strong rider, and good company. We passed the hours discussing the scenery, carbos, and other serious subjects. The mileage for the day was 136 miles, and we climbed more that 5500 feet. Our riding time was about 9:30. I am tired, satisfied.

June 6: Joplin

"Two pancakes $1.80, three pancakes $2.10." This menu was too good to be true. After a quick 30 miles this morning a hot breakfast was welcome. Besides pancakes I ordered bacon, hash browns, a large orange juice and coffee. On these tours one must eat or die. Today was another hilly day through central Missouri. It had rained all night, but after a few morning showers, we were mostly rain free for the rest of the day. In addition to hills, we also saw the return to headwinds for parts of the day. Did I mention dogs? It seems the more remote the road the number of dogs increases geometrically. Twice today we were chased by not one dog, but 6-packs of bellicose beagles and rowdy retrievers. It was a long day with more than 10 hours riding while traveling 139 miles.

June 7: Claremore

The cue sheet informed us that today we would cover 118 miles and only climb 1,000 feet. What it could not tell us was that there would be cool temperatures and favorable winds. With flat roads and the wind at our back my roomate Jack and I zipped along through Missouri, Kansas, and into Oklahoma. After 72 miles and several dogs we arrived at our lunch stop, Dewards and Pauline's restaurant in Vinita. For $3.95 we gorged ourselves at the buffet that included mashed potatoes, crowder peas, fried catfish, beef pot pie, stuffed cabages, a variety of veggies and lots of salads. We hammered past the salads and went straight for the potatoes, peas and catfish. All the food was great for the rest of the ride we felt more like napping than riding. But we did not have to worry. The cue sheet was off by 10 miles so after 108 miles we found ourselves at the motel in Claremore at 1:45 PM. One other highlight of the day was riding on two of the oldest sections of Route 66. These sections are only 9 feet wide and make right turns through the countryside. Tonight we go to Will Rogers home for a cookout! Yahoo!

June 9: Weatherford

"Go home! Bad dog!" Jack shouted at yet another dog that att look wondering who had disturbed their quiet Sunday afternoon. "Just trying to stay alive." I offered as we passed by. I did not stay for their reply. The day began with record low temperatures and ended with the termometer hovering at 80 degrees. I was going to write that the day began with hills like a wrinkled carpet that someone slowly pulled flat. It did do that, but later the hills returned. We were scheduled to eat lunch on our own after 75 miles but when not suitable restaurants appeared we were forced to continue riding and eat at the wildly popular Cherokee Restaurant. The afternoon rolled by crossing old sections of Route 66 that seemed to have a bumpy section at the bottom of every hill. I suspect flash floods have at some point washed the next several days.

June 10: Shamrock

We rode the first hour debating why cement pavement dried faster than asphalt after a rain. Much soul searching discussion ensued, but no conclusions were reached. By the time that discussion had concluded we had passed through some beautiful rolling countryside and seen the sun come up. At the 15 mile point it was time for breakfast at Pop Hicks Restaurant in Clinton. After a mildly greasy, but filling meal we headed off to Texas . The terrain slowly changed from rolly hills, to sort of flat, to rolling again. Lots of cattle and oil wells were observed. The lunch Everyone in Deb's was friendly and genuinely interested in our journey. When Jack commented on the delicious pecan pie he was eating, he was immediately given a handwritten recipe. We rolled on down the road counting our blessings by having a southeast wind to blow us on our way. Along the way we passed through Erick and Texola, two towns that have withered away since Route 66 closed down. We saw more out of business motels, and gas stations than anywhere on trip so far. At 2:15 PM we arrived at the "vintage" Texan Motel. We were glad to be done early. When we arrived the temperature was 82 degrees. By 5:00 PM it was over 90 degrees. We plan another early start tomorrow. The ride today covered 104 miles and our climbing was 2660 feet.

June 11: Amarillo

Jack, Jerry and I were on the road early again, hoping to avoid the afternoon heat. The first 20 miles were pleasantly flat and brought us to Mclean, Texas for breakfast at the Cowboy Restaurant. The vintage waitress was pleasant, but confused. and our order was mixed up with a group that came in 15 minutes after us leaving us with a longer than planned breakfast stop. Oh, well. Mclean has a beautifully restored 1930'sgas station that we photographed. From that point on the day progressed smoothly with the elevation slowly rising from 2300 feet to 3600 feet. Sometimes it was hard to tell if we were going up or down. We passed the famous leaning water tower in Groom. Why doesn't it fall over? Two ofthe supports are off the ground! The day ended at 1:30 PM with a total mileage of 102 miles. Oh, yes, the last few miles of the trip brought us past the largest number of run down motels I have ever seen. In the space of five miles we passed at least fifty of them. Thankfully, our motel was on a better side of town and was clean and quiet.

June 12: Tucumcari

Today we had breakfast at the motel and then pushed off to see the Cadillac Ranch at dawn. (The Cadillac Ranch is a "work of art" consisting of 10 Cadillacs half buried in the ground.) It was a major disappointment. The Cadillacs were way out in a field and the ground was muddy making a closer inspection impossible. So it goes. The first fifty miles today were really flat. Visibility was many miles in any direction. Still we climbed from 3600 feet to 4500 feet. At that point the so called Cap Rock ended and we descended 700 feet to a valley and zipped into New Mexico. The terrain became more buttes and rock formations. I noticed more desert conditions. Several kinds of cactus. Because tomorrow is a big climbing day I took it easy. Still, finished at 1:30 PM with the total mileage today being 113. I used the new Camelback water system today and found it a good idea.

June 14: Albuquerque

Well! It hadn't rained in New Mexico all year---until today. The morning greeted us with a cold steady rain. The temperature was in the 50's. Yesterday I had felt some pain in my achilles tendon and this morning it got worse after the first 25 miles. With the steady rain and no chance for the tendon to warm up I decided to take a ride in the van until lunch. With my tendon taped and the weather better, I rode in the rest of the way. The rain returned but it was not steady. I met my roommate, Jack, who had been warming up in a restaurant for over an hour and we rode in together. Apparently, several people experienced various stages of hypothemia during a long descent in the rain. I was glad to be able to ride for part of the day. That night I returned to my original shoes which I had changed a few days ago. The cleats were a little bit different and perhaps that was the cause of my tendon problems. At any rate, I plan to tape my foot for the next few days. A footnote: Within two blocks of our motel the re were three tatoo parlors. We considered "Route 66, the mother rode" tatoos, but came to our senses in time.

June 15: Grants

What a treat! Today took us through beautiful rock canyons and spectacular scenery. Most of the morning it was cool with favorible winds. The climbing for the day was 3,000 feet, but with only 85 miles, we did not care. Jack, Jerry and I rode together and we arrived at the motel at about 1:00 PM. Next door to the motel was a restaurant that featured a great buffet, including pasta!

June 16: Chambers

The morning greeted us with a calm 49 degrees! We rode off at 6:15 AM into a beautiful morning and the Continental Divide. For 36 miles we rode up a steady, but easy grade to the Divide at 7,275 feet. The rest of the day we rode through beautiful canyons and reservation land. Because Route 66 was replaced by Interstate 40, our route was near or on the Interstate. Riding the interstate shoulder is not always the most enjoyable experience, joyable exper ience, but the grades are not severe. We ended the day in Arizona and traveled about 112 miles. We met a friendly truck driver at lunch who was also going to L.A. We asked to ride along, but he said that would be cheating. He will be in L.A. tomorrow morning. It will take us another week. And on we go!

Backpedal to Tim's first posts.