Trans-America Bike Ride for Charity
…We travel not for trafficking alone;
By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned;
For lust of knowing what should not be known
We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand…
~James Elroy Flecker, The Golden Journey to Samarkand
Hello, my name is Wally Roth. Let me, first off, thank you for being here and reading this—however you came to be here. I really do appreciate it and believe that together we, even if perfect, or imperfect, strangers, can help each other make the world, or at least some small parts of it, a better place.
Okay, the quick and the dirty: I am a former naval intelligence analyst, security and intelligence consultant, triathlete, and writer. I am riding my bike across the country and hoping to raise money for Holbrook Indian School, a K-12 boarding academy in the heart of Navajo country, where I was born, to provide tuition for students who otherwise could not afford to attend.
So, that wasn’t so bad, eh? If you find yourself interested/intrigued, please continue reading below to learn a little more about me, the trip I have planned, why I’m doing it, and how you can participate. Thank you again so much.
Who I am:
Who am I? That is a good question, and one that defies an easy answer. I have already told you several of my jobs as well as a couple of hobbies, and I could just as easily tell you many things that I have done around the world in those roles, some impressive, some incredibly stupid, yet none of them are me, just things that I have done— the ripples surrounding the pebble dropped in the pond. But what is the pebble
This search for self-understanding, largely through writing, has been going for a number of years, but I guess you could say it began in earnest after I returned from Afghanistan in the spring of 2006. From 1993 to 2006, I filled eighteen journals, approximately 3,600 pages. From 2006 to now, I’ve filled 85, over 17,000 pages. Much of it has been dross and not worth repeating or sharing, but in the way of any art, you readily muck through the 1,000 pages for the 20-40 pages of gold. It has been a process of unfolding and I’ve been working my way to an understanding of that pebble tossed in the pond and the ripples that resulted from the intersection of the two; hoping to find my way out of this state of dis-content and dis-ease.
What I am Doing:
I find myself at a peculiar point in time/space— my current living arrangement is about to end; and as I have tried to envision my next step I have been utterly unable to see beyond my last day in my current digs. The only thing that has occurred to me has been to simply get on my bike and ride across the country—real Dharma Bum stuff, I imagine; better to be On the Road than on the street.:
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of the country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” ~Ernest Hemingway
A leap of faith then. Part of me feels that I should be terrified, but I’m not—quite the opposite actually— even though on the face of things there is no logic to any of it. I believe that what I am looking for, this new sense of self, and a future for it to walk into, lay within this journey and hey, if I can make the ride happen and raise some money for the kids at Holbrook, all the better.
I think that most people reach a point in there life where they wake up, temporarily, and see the mess they’ve made of it—the string of Faustian bargains trailing out behind them, the unlived and misspent life, how cheaply they have sold or abandoned their dreams— and there, in that terrible moment, they are faced with suicide, beginning anew from where they are with what they’ve wrought, or sinking deeper into unconsciousness. The sane ones choose the latter, the brave ones the former, and as for the middle path…that is the path for the crazy, insane, delusional, touched, punks, anarchists, artists, poets, the marginal, and/or dreamers. It is, I think, the hero’s path.
I find myself this year in an in-between place. I feel dis-ease, a sense of having been asleep too long, of playing it safe too long, of being away for too long; of needing to be "awake," and now. I don't want to miss anymore, the good or the bad.
Bruce Lee once talked about plateaus, stating that one had to push through them at all costs…or die trying. I'm tired of living this way and I'm going to find a better way to live…or die trying. There are no other options, there never were.
Holbrook Indian School
Holbrook Indian School is a small boarding K-12 academy serving primarily American Indian students in the Flagstaff area with an enrollment of approximately 73 students, a third of which are 5th graders or below. No Native American student is turned away for a lack of funding.
Why Holbrook Indian School? I was born in Flagstaff, AZ and at the time both my parents worked at the school. It is where I spent the first year of my life, though obviously I’ve no recollection of it. However, I have been back several times in the intervening years. Given that, I feel a tie to it, even if a bit tenuous. On top of that, I believe in what they’re doing—grave injustice have been done to the American Indians and my support to the school is a little act of trying to rectify some of that.
Holbrook Indian School: http://www.holbrookindianschool.org/
The Holbrook Indian School Report: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_z3ChsSndZM
Non-profit info: http://www.nonprofitfacts.com/AZ/Holbrook-Adventist-Indian-School.html
School/Student Info: http://www.homefacts.com/schools/Arizona/Navajo-County/Holbrook/Holbrook-Seventh-Day-Adventist-Indian-School.html
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/company/holbrook-indian-school
Holbrook info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holbrook,_Arizona
Some school fact- charts and such: http://www.homefacts.com/schools/Arizona/Navajo-County/Holbrook/Holbrook-Seventh-Day-Adventist-Indian-School.html
The Trans-America Bicycle Trail- Yorktown, VA to Astoria, OR.
Approximately 4,500 miles.
Estimated 40 days, give or take, to complete.
Departure date: 18JUN16
I will be posting trip reports as I go, along with pictures, and progress can be followed via Spot3 tracking. Questions, as time permits, will be answered.
2006 Motobecane Nemesis (> 6,500 miles)
Zipp Service Course Bars w/Shimano Ultegra ST-6700 shifters
Zipp 101 wheel set with Power Tap rear hub
Speedplay Zero Aero pedals
Revelate Designs Tangle frame bag (small), Terrapin seat bag, Travel Pouch, Gas Tank
Specialized S-Works Tri Vent shoes
"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. Where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you" ~Edward Abbey
My deepest apologies for being incommunicado for so long. I’ve had my reasons, laziness being chief among them, but that will soon be changing.
The below should bring you current:
At 1245 local [12SEP16] I was feet wet in the Pacific Ocean: Pacific City- 4405 miles after I started and 56 days, 3:30hrs of riding.
Riding by myself again [today] for the first time in about 3 weeks; Matt headed north to Portland and a bus ride to Seattle to visit a friend. I miss him.
I'm tired...more spiritually than physically, and would really like this to be over.
“Thinking about KY, and other hard places along the way, as I was riding today and, at least now, it was totally worth it. I also think this is about the hardest thing I've ever done and I expect that it will have changed me more the any other thing I've ever done as well...which I expect will be a good thing :)
That's about it I guess, still got another 20-ish miles to go to find a campground- the last century of the journey- and the going is slow-er.
The next morning, my very last day, I set out for Astoria and the “admin” end” of this journey. Approximately 59 minutes into the ride I was hit/side-swiped by a truck towing an RV trailer and crashed heavily on my left side, sustaining multiple injures, though nothing broken. My helmet definitely saved me from death/traumatic brain injury. The driver did not stop but pulled over about an 8th of mile up the road and never came back. Other people, though— Julie and Diane—stopped to lend assistance. I ended up riding into Seaside in the back of an ambulance; not exactly how I envisioned the end of this journey—certainly not when I set out, and not on any given morning.
No one, for the most part, wakes up and thinks, “This is my last day on this earth,” or thoughts to that effect; though in all fairness, I have been in that situation several times, though never on a bike. Life is, at least in the West, largely taken for granted; which is, honestly, a first-world problem, as I’ve been many places where it is the cheapest of all commodities.
On the day I left Yorktown, I couldn’t think about the trip as a whole, it was just too big and I knew that if I tried to, it would be a falling into the Abyss. Ten minutes, that was my hydration schedule for triathlon, and I figured I could handle things at that scale. And as I rode off, mile .001, of over 4500, the only prayer I could manage was, “Keep me safe.” Mile 40 was the first instance of the thought, “I don’t know if I can do this,” and I was serious/honest.
That said, I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around what happened that last day—had things gone as much as mm different I’d probably be dead, or irrevocably injured—the ego doesn’t easily metabolize those realities and the best I can explain that is below:
Up until Tuesday morning I was trying to wrap my head around the enormity of what I've accomplished- it's just so damned big that I haven't been able to take it all in as a whole...so many days being focused at the level of miles, rather than thousands of them. And then those 4400+ miles are eclipsed by an incredibly short yet enormous 3 or less seconds covering probably no more than 50-100 feet, if that. And maybe it is that paradoxical?, ironic?, dichotomy that is making it so difficult for me to wrap my head around this whole getting hit thing, going from the major macro to the life-or-death micro…it’s hard for me to hold them together as I look at this journey and what is means, or is supposed to mean.
In any case, I am currently back east recuperating and seeing some specialists to ensure that I make a full, 100%, recovery. I am in good spirits.
While I have not, currently written much, it is my intention to do so and there are a lot of things that I wish to…share.
So please do stay tuned, as this will be the outlet for that writing, and thank you all again so much—words really do fail me—for all your support throughout this entire journey.
Please let us know what happened to Wally. We heard from him after the crash then nothing since and we are worried.
Wally, my daughter (livi) is Matt's partner. Ive been following Matts escapes since I saw him off from Coney Island 80+ days ago. SO Ive been watching parts of your ride as well. 1) Awesome adventure! 2) You are riding for a great cause...I have friends that were down in ND last week to protest pipeline...sickens me about whats going on there and whats been going on for the past couple of hundred years. 3) Glad you met Matt....we are lucky to have him in our lives. 4) HUGE BUMMER about your crash....glad you didn't get too busted up.. so close to the finish too! Im sure there are reasons why THAT happened! Anyway...cheers and Ill make a donation too. TK
Sorry we aren't in Denver to congratulate your progress. Just returned to Florida this weekend. If you decide to ride back, let us know and we will provide you with a shower, home cooked meal and a bed. Bob & Sandy Cook
Wow, that's a lot of miles; hope you have time to enjoy the journey, Wally.