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Riding for Celiac Disease Awareness
By Earl Ley - (contact)

Ride Across USA for Celiac Disease Awareness: Phase 1 -- San Diego to El Paso -- Fall 2005

Monday September 19, 2005, 950 miles (1,529 km) - Total so far: 992 miles (1,596 km)

This journal is about a nine-year veteran of celiac disease who attempted a dream to ride across the country on his bicycle. The tuff part was to have and eat only celiac food in high-demand quantities and quality to sustain bicycling for six, eight and ten hours a day. Reliable sources say it is a caloric burn of 4000 to 5000 calories a day. After every week of riding was to be one day of rest.

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Southern Tier Riders - Fall 2005 - Pacific Ocean Start
Adventure Cycling Association

Thus, Phase 1 (for me) began with the group of 14 rolling east on September 19, 2005. This was the Fall Southern Tier loaded tour with Adventure Cycling. Brian was our capable guide. Days # 2 and # 3 were the hardest bicycling days of me entire life. It was climbing over the mountains east of San Diego along old Highway US 80 and Interstate 8. My trailer weighed 80 pounds and the panniers on rear rack weighed 20 pounds. Gearing and riding were comfortable; it was just the caloric burn rate for the day that started to wear me down.

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Climb out of Arizona desert toward New Mexico

Day 18 was long with headwind and horrific sore throat. Days 19-21 were sick days hold up in motel in Hatch, New Mexico with strep throat. Days 22 and 23 were delightful days riding down through the Rio Grand River valley to El Paso.

In El Paso, rent cars to Del Rio did not go, heartbreak set in and all fell apart. It was decision time. I was done. Bike and trailer dropped at bike shop to be packed and shipped. Cab to airport and flight to home and Nell. The full group of 13 cycled on and all celebrated in St. Augustine, Florida some 40 days later. I had ridden 950 miles, was weak and tired. Home was good.

Winter passed with one snow shoeing outing and longing for the West and South that were undone. For 21 good days I had been a celiac on tour in the desert. You see, the celiac patient must conform to the medically-directed diet of all gluten-free food. This kind of food is unknown to most grocery store people, especially in sparsely populated communities. For this wonderful Southern Tier planned, organized, and sheltered bicycle expedition; I was a loaner with my 22 pounds of gluten-free food to sustain for seven or eight days. A post office pick-up from general delivery would replenish my food supply. I carried all my own cooking equipment, which added to my independence, isolation and weight. I loved that Burley, two-wheel trailer; and it was packed full with tent and sleep pad tied on top. Sad, but true, the trailer helped in my fall from the faster group of 13. Their hearts were in it for me, but what could they do? They wanted to do. They gave me firsts and any foods. They wanted to help. But, I was in over my head and had much to learn from the celiac point-of-view of high-demand bicycle touring. I had hoped it was possible.


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"Riding for Celiac Disease Awareness" Copyright © 2006-2014 By Earl Ley - (contact). All rights reserved.
Page was created on May 18, 2006 21:10 PDT, last updated on December 16, 2006 19:48 PDT
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