October 7, 2018

Tally Tango 160

Bikepacking in Florida?? Yeah, it's a thing. I happened to hear about a 160 mile route in the Tallahassee area a few years ago and thought it would be cool to check out sometime. I thought I was going to be able to attend last year, but my CTR effort sapped all my vacation time unexpectedly. This year, K had been planning an October visit to the area for beach time with friends. I learned the Tally Tango 160 was going down the first weekend in October!! Hmmm. Let's make this happen!!
The 4th annual Tally Tango patch.
Huge elevation profile!! ~1500' of gain over 160 miles, should be easy, right?
I saved just enough vacation time for a long weekend back east. I lobbed a softball to my buddy, Larry, in South Carolina to see if he had any interest. He was all IN!! We made a plan to ride together, both self-supported, since we hadn't ridden together in 5 years!! You see, Larry, was my first victim...err friend to ride my Queen's Ransom bikepack route. He got hooked on bikepacking, then found himself moving east from Tucson. He's since become a true beast of the east and has started coaching others in the sport!!

October 6th was launch date. Tango event ticket purchased (covers the patch & food/drink at Samurai Camp, well worth it!!), bike packed & shipped via BikeFlights and flights listed.

Bear with me here, there's a bit more background to the logistics involved and the event in general I'd like to share.

The Tally Tango is one in a series of bikepacking events hosted by Singletrack Samurai Productions. The route was concocted by Mathew B. and Karlos is master of ceremonies for the event. The route begins & ends in Tallahassee, making a CW loop down near the Gulf Coast using some singletrack, 2-track, forest roads and a bit of pavement. Karlos sets up a Samurai camp near mile 100 where riders are encouraged to camp/hang out enjoying the camaraderie and resupply offered. Those who don't wish to camp are cheered on to Tango in one big push to the finish. Samurai camp was our goal.

The bike. For this ride I wanted to give the Binary Bicycles Havok a full test run with my 'mostly' Tour Divide setup. The main difference for me, NO backpack. I also wouldn't carry the full gamut of cold/wet weather gear as the forecast was showing upper 80's/low 70's & sunny to partly cloudy with 65% humidity both days.
Ready to go!! Sans water bladder.

Water bladder added to top compartment of the framebag, holding 3L capacity.
As far as BikeFlights goes, top notch!! K grew up in Tallahassee and our friends own Killearn Lakes Taekwondo, so I had the bike picked up at my workplace and shipped directly there, where I could then store my box & packing supplies until I was ready to ship it home. Only an extra $5 for pickup/dropoff each way. Perfect. Bike logistics: done.
Packed, padded & ready for pickup.
Flights were looking good for us, since we were flying standby once again per usual. The plan was to fly into Dallas, DFW & then onto Tallahassee, TLH. Returning on Tuesday after the ride.

Of course we were thrown a curveball the day before departure. The flights out of Phoenix weren't looking so great, but we hoped to be in Tallahassee on Thursday, Friday at the absolute latest. I scoured our flight options and decided it would be best to move up our departure time, fly to Atlanta and make the 5 hour drive south. Our luck panned out as we were upgraded to First Class and were also upgraded at the rental car counter in Atlanta. We loaded up our SUV instead of economy car and were on our way to Tally town.
Heading south out of Atlanta. So. Much. Green.

We made it!!

One of the locals, Banana Spider, greets us at home.
We ended up getting to town about an hour earlier than originally planned and got a good night's sleep. The next day we drove over to the Taekwondo studio and I put the bike together. Something wasn't quite right though. The chain tension was goofy. I had limited tools to futz with it so I put out a call on the Tally Tango Facebook page. Within minutes I had a few local riders chime in on bike shops. Matthew W. was working at The Great Bicycle Shop and it was only a few minutes away. At this point I was very thankful for the rental car upgrade, the SUV had plenty of room for the bike. Matthew made quick work of the situation and put my nerves at rest. I can't thank him enough for interrupting his day to get me straightened out. As I had suspected, the biking community in Tallahassee is solid.

Later that day, K met up with her sister down on the coast for dinner while Larry arrived into town. He picked me up so we could attend a meet & greet of Tango riders at Ology Brewing Co. Larry was pointing out a bunch of the riders who frequent the east coast bikepacking scene. It was a fun time and good icebreaker for the event. I believe it was here when we learned of the developing storm that would soon become Hurricane Michael.

Back at the house, I finally loaded the rig up with all my gear. I was ready.

Day 1 - Tom Brown Park to Samurai Camp

My in-law's house was only 5 miles from the start and barely one mile to the route. My plan was to ride to the start by using the final four miles of the route, then ride home when we finished on Sunday. Logistically, a piece of cake.

I rolled out of the house at 6:15a for the 7a start. I joined the route quickly and my first task, even though I was following a track on my GPS, was to locate the Kohl's trail. I spotted the gap in the trees through the darkness, hopped a curb and shone my light into the thick vegetation. All I could see was the trail dropping away into the abyss, here goes nothing. I quickly found out my brakes were being taxed by the 50+ lb steed I was riding. Thankfully, I shouldn't really need those a whole bunch!! The trail wound back and forth around trees and over small roots. It was a blast. It was a bit surreal to be railing through this dense mini-forest, in the dark on a relatively unknown bike setup.

The trail popped out onto a road where it crossed through a shopping center parking lot. I began riding along Blair Stone Rd. as it bent around a rise. Suddenly, I was off-route. Huh? I backtracked to where a guardrail ended and only saw a grassy shoulder disappearing into the woods. I was now back on track so I pedaled onto the grass. I then spotted a trail darting into the woods - brilliant! More twists, turns and roots ensued. There were a few short bridges over some boggy areas to navigate as well. The trail kept going, keeping me on my toes as it crossed roads and shifted. Time was ticking as the miles passed. It was now only a few minutes before 7a and I wasn't at the Weems Rd. trailhead for the start!! I was almost resigned to a late start when I began to see LED's ahead. I rolled up to find Larry scanning the crowd for me. Karlos made the '2 minutes' announcement as Larry & I snapped our required starting shots. *Three pics are required: Starting area, a selfie with the Sopchoppy Pizza gorilla and a finish shot.
Already sweating and ready to go!!

Larry at the Weems Rd. sign.

We were somewhere near the back of the mid-pack at the start.
Next thing I knew, Karlos was counting off the final seconds. 3..2..1..Go!! The lights began to dance away as we blended into the pack.

The first few miles of the route were a continuation of what I rode to get to the start. Read: fun singletrack!! The trails in Tom Brown park twist & turn and maximize any of the available contours in terrain. If you look at a map it looks like a narrow bowl of spaghetti, yet the trees are thick enough that you can't see the adjacent trails only a few mere feet away!! It was cool seeing the train of lights ahead of me through this section as they were shining in every direction!!

At one point we popped out of the trees at a junction, there were a few riders who weren't sure which way to go, one of them mentioned not having a GPS, which I found odd considering the type of ride this is. At any rate, I ended up in front of this freshly formed group of riders, Larry right behind me. My light caught an upcoming wooden feature, I'm hitting that!! I rolled over and then another up ahead. I heard some hootin' & hollerin' behind me about my bike handling skills. I knew there wasn't going to be much opportunity for that sort of riding on this route, so I had to grab it while I could.

We ended up overshooting a turn and quickly swapped positions with a bunch of riders. We caught up at a clearing where a couple of riders were checking out a giant wooden rollercoaster, I had ridden it years ago, coming through!! Up, down, up, down & out. Fun stuff. It was now light enough to see our surroundings.
We were going the wrong way for this feature.

Another rider who was in our group for a bit.

Double Black?? Yes, please.
As soon as I saw the double black sign, I knew I had to check it out. It was a mellow rock roll into a drainage with a straight runout. Lean back a bit a let 'er rip. This was the final stamp of sorts for the Tom Brown trails. I stopped at the bottom to get a pic of someone else coming down, but everyone else skipped it. Booo!!

We started over the levee separating Lake Lafayette from Piney Z Lake just as sunrise fell upon us. Amazing!!
On the levee already sweating buckets!!

Smooth as glass Lake Lafayette.

Levee. Photo by Larry.

Here comes the Sun.

Love the Spanish Moss, not in AZ anymore. 
The wooden bridge took us over a set of railroad tracks we'd be paralleling for a while.

But first some tight gamey singletrack. Trails like this are rad.

We dumped out on the railroad bed and settled in for a bit.

Then some nice quiet cruising 

Getting caught by a few riders.

Taking in the early sights. Photo by Larry.

Doesn't look like much, but the gate is locked. My rig was a bit heavy since I was going sans backpack. Oof.
This was where the route began to feel more remote. It was mostly hardpacked sand 2-track. An occasional puddle would stretch side to side, but they were all easily avoided...at least by me. Larry took an unfortunate left when I went right around one rather large puddle, all I heard was the rustling of branches and 'oh crap'. Larry dunked his feet in some goopy water, meanwhile my feet were dry as a bone.
Beautiful country road.

Mathew Bull, the Tango route wizard.

This place was screaming BACON!!

We caught up to a few riders at this rundown structure. Photo by Larry.

I'm always fascinated when we come across places like this, makes you wonder what it was like in its heyday.
Larry, Mark & I. Mark is a gradeschool classmate of K's. He showed me the trails around town a few years ago and I was pleasantly surprised to hear he was a late addition to the Tango - his first bikepacking ride!!

Mathew, Mark and a few others begin to pull away from us. Photo by Larry.

Miles of easy cruising through the forest on hardpacked 2-track.

We were somewhere around 40 miles in, 3 1/2 hours of ride time and I needed a snack break. I could feel my legs getting heavy as I'm not used to so many spinny miles without stopping. Not my strong point. It was starting to get warm as the morning morphed into afternoon. I was getting a light nauseated feel, a bit lightheaded when I stood up to continue. I guess I needed a few more minutes. I gathered myself and we continued riding along a vast network of fire breaks.

Last year this area was inundated with deep water. Not today.

The forest roads here had a real primitive feel. Awesome!!
Larry and I were chatting away, all sorts of topics to keep the miles ticking by. I mentioned that I really wanted to see a gator on this ride, at a safe distance of course. I knew we were getting close to the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and that place is infested with gators!! I had been down to the lighthouse years ago and recall seeing a bunch from the car.
The iconic Pinhook Bridge. Just as cool as I imagined.

Crossing the Pinhook River.

These grassy areas were the hottest part of the route for me, I could feel the humidity radiating from the ground. Sweating buckets. Photo by Larry.

I had no idea there was such a thing. 
This was the only tricky down tree to navigate through during the entire route.

More 2-track cruising.
I was turning the pedals, looking around, generally enjoying the moment. Pretty much zoned out when all of a sudden I looked to my left as I rode past a log in the grass....

That's no log!! Gator!!! It didn't register until I was right next to its snout. I bet my wheels came within 6-8" inches of it. The gator didn't budge as we went back to take a closer look. Not too close though!!

He wasn't too thrilled about all the picture taking. Adios!!

To what??
The adrenaline rush of seeing the gator carried us along the route for a few miles. What seemed like an instant, the landscape transformed from jungle riding to African safari open plains. It was a really neat area as we were about as close to the Gulf of Mexico as the route would take us. No more gator sightings although we were in their prime habitat. The route was now out in the open, no canopy of shade and it was sometime near high noon. I was not only feeling the humidity, but the heat was kicking in a bit too somewhere near 90º.
Following the path of others.

Water, water, everywhere.

I was in constant scan mode for gators!!

This was one of our favorite sections of the route in spite of the heat & nasty sandspurs. The east coast version of goatheads.

Multi-tasking the photo ops. Most of our pics were taken while riding. Photo by Larry.

Birds in flight while a few boats chug along the horizon on the Gulf.

Still on the Florida Trail. We found a small respite of shade, perfect for plucking copious amounts of sandspurs from skin, shoes & socks!! Make sure your sealant is topped off before embarking on the Tango!!

We'll continue thataway.
Our route kept on chugging along the levee system. We came around a corner and saw a gate up ahead as we approached Lighthouse Rd, there was a fella there snapping pics as we rode up.
Action shot!! Photo by Eric Montgomery Photography.
We were greeted with ice cold PBR's, water and other goodies. Caught up with Mathew, Mark and a few more riders too. Huge shout out to Judy & Co. for driving out to the hottest part of the route.

Another bike shop high on the list of rad folks. Higher Ground Bicycle Co.
It was tough leaving the oasis, but we needed to keep moving. We weren't far from our next resupply option at Chevron, but the chatter with PBR's in hand had us craving a good sit down meal. It was closer than the gas station, so we adjusted our plans.
It seemed like we spent the better part of the day in the St. Marks NWR.

Moar Florida Trail.

Beautiful visitor center tucked in the trees.

A few miles of rippin' tarmac riding before lunch.

St. Marks River.

Looks like a great place for lunch.

The in-laws tracked me down!! Great seeing them for a minute.

Blackened shrimp po-boy & baked beans. Mmmm.

10 riders all getting their fill. I wasn't too keen on the sulfur water though. Thankfully, there was a Chevron only a few miles down the road. Photo by Larry.

Ouzts' Too Oyster Bar.
A quick spin down the road and a bunch of riders were stocking up at the Chevron. Clean tasting water and a few other drinks were had. Larry & I headed out for a few miles of fast pavement riding before the next stretch of grassy 2-track.

Crossing the Wakulla River.

I had been feeling very faint twinges of cramps all afternoon, but I felt like I was taking in enough fluids. Plus, we were relatively fresh off our lunch break and I was feeling pretty good. I mentioned to Larry that we should stop in the shade for a quick 5 minute break. No sooner did the bike come to a complete halt when my entire left quad went full cramp mode. Gah!! I barely had an instant to hop off my flat pedals!! It dropped me to the ground. I don't tend to cramp often, but when I do, yikes.
Taking a break...courtesy of my left quad. Oh, the agony!!! Darn thing took a solid 15 minutes to finally release. Photo by Larry.

In the meantime quite a few riders caught up to us. I think I counted 7.

Backwoods hunting perch?

Turn off to Shell Point, home of my in-laws who met us during lunch.

Seemingly endless, flat forest road. Simple beauty.

The humidity was taking a toll. I had a few close calls with nausea, which I never get. I kept things together as we continued to leapfrog a few riders into the waning daylight.
Our goal now was to reach the Sopchoppy Pizza Co. before they closed. It was going to be close. We had until 9p. or so we thought. We wound our way through the forest roads and put a gap on the riders we had been leapfrogging. Not much was said during this stretch. Nightfall came, the temps cooled just enough and we cranked out the miles.
This sign greeted us as we turned right onto Surf Rd. Motivation was high, it was sometime after 8p.

A welcomed sign, now where's this pizza joint?
Larry had put the hammer down and I watched his red blinky disappear ahead of me. I rolled into town, a very small town, but didn't see the pizza place. I pulled into the gas station where a few riders were coming out all stocked up for a late night push. They told me Larry was up ahead and where Sopchoppy Pizza Co. was located...and they left us a free pie!! Say what!?! I soon found Larry with a large pizza seated outside. It was just after 8:30p and we found out they weren't taking any more food orders for the night. Whew! That was close. We did manage to get some drinks and hand out a couple slices to other riders. It was a cool vibe as about 10 riders were milling about, getting set to either push on to the finish or knock out the 10 miles or so to Samurai camp. Before we left, we had some business to attend. Mandatory selfies with the Sopchoppy Pizza Co. gorilla!!

That's my 'deer in headlights' look.

Adios gorilla.
I was feeling like a new man after the pizza stop. The miles to Samurai camp seemed to melt away as we put down a solid pace.
Arriving at Samurai Camp around 10:30p
We could hear the commotion of camp before we could see it. There was Karlos, holding court with all kinds of goodies: water, beer, sodas, cookies, etc. I think there were around 30 riders either hanging out or already camped out for the night. We found a nice soft flat spot near the back of camp and settled in for the night.

It was still humid and hovering around 70º. I had my one man tent, mainly for bug protection, no pad & my sleeping bag - which is rated to 32º!! I wasn't crawling inside of that. I put on some dry clothes, what a relief that was!! I crashed out on top of my bag for some much needed rest. Day 1 in the books after 106 miles (5 miles were my ride to the start)

Day 2: Samurai Camp to Finish

Our plot at Samurai Camp.
 We were in no rush the next morning and that was evident by being the last two riders to leave camp around 8:30a. We had about 60 miles to go, chill pace planned and hoping for an early-ish finish.
Leaving camp.
 Karlos mentioned that the unmarked singletrack section was about 15 miles down the route. I figured that would be a good place for breakfast. Off we went.
We were riding along the Bradwell Bay Wilderness boundary for a bunch of early miles.

More endlessly flat forest roads that road really well in spite of the occasional sandy bits. The 3.0 tires on the Havok ate it up. I noticed a bunch of footprints in the deeper sand, none for this guy.

15 miles came and went, then 20...21...ok, we need to stop and eat. I was getting loopy. We found this nicely shaded area for some much needed calories. Then an RV slowly came bounding up the road, one of the few encounters with anyone we had on route.

Naturally, this is Clyde. The passenger in an elderly backwoods Cajun fellas RV.
We must've listened to this guy excitedly tell us about his travels for 5-10 minutes. When he left both Larry and I agreed, we couldn't understand a word he said!! It was hilarious.
Back on the road in search of singletrack. Photo by Larry.

Still mashing the 2-track. Photo by Larry.

A lot of the area looked very similar, but the riding was fast, easy in spite of the rising temps.

Can't say enough good things about riding with this guy. As Larry said, 'The band was back together!'

We spotted a cooler across an intersection and immediately both of us had visions of trail magic dancing in our heads. What could be in there, beer? Water? Cokes? ...or trash. #failuresintrailmagic

Another snack break at the G.F. & A. Trail (Georgia, Florida & Alabama Trail). Still searching for our singletrack turn, now some 25 miles beyond Samurai Camp. I really shouldn't have waited so long to eat as I was having trouble keeping my energy levels up.

Larry's rig. Dialed. Photo by Larry.

I narrowly avoided a face full of spider web getting this pic.
 We eventually found our singletrack turnoff, a vague, unmarked trail seemingly at random off the side of the road. We were both pleasantly surprised by what we rode.

The trails through here were incredible. Believe it or not, but there was just enough downhill to carry some speed on most of it. Of course I was dragging ass on the slight inclines, but I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the route. There was just enough vegetation encroachment for that authentic backcountry feel. We loved it!! The trails were so much fun, we didn't take many pics through here.
Singletrack!! Yeehaw!!

Near the start of the fun stuff.

It was nice to be back on dirt. Photo by Larry.

There were only a few small down trees, some rideable and a bit of vegetation. Photo by Larry.

Looks worse than it was, but apparently Larry lost focus for a split second and got poked. Photo by Larry.

Buffed out trail most of the way.

Larry hamming it up while he waits for my slow butt to catch up.

Off the singletrack this random forest roads leads us back to civilization.

The outskirts of Tallahassee.

On our way to the Munson Hills trails. Our new obsession? The gas station and cold drinks immediately after this network of singletrack.
We blew by the turn at first, then found recently scorched trail.

Recently scorched as in ACTIVELY being scorched!! Thankfully, the smoke was short lived.

Out of the prescribed burn area, the trails were dirt tarmac for the most part. Rippin' fast.

Mostly flat, but a few undulations could be found.

What the?? Prickly Pear cactus?? In Florida?

A quick respite from the heat at one of the trailheads. Ahhh.

This converted rail trail essentially bisects the Tally Tango down to the coast.

Looking south along the St. Marks rail trail. We'd be heading north towards downtown.

Historical tidbits.
We hopped back on singletrack for a couple more miles, then like a fully stocked SAG stop, the Shell gas station appeared!! Cold drinks were immediately consumed. We took a nice break before the final urban miles to the finish. We could taste it now.
Bikepacking paradise.

Beautiful multi-use path coming into town.

Urban lake.

The miles passed quickly along the St. Marks rail trail.

Thick crust of algae on this pond.

Downtown Tallahassee.

Way back to the early car camping days.

Can anyone guess the airport code for Tallahassee??

It was a fun mix of urban bikeways through downtown. I was able to see many areas for the first time through this maze of concrete. A very cool perspective.
This was our least favorite part of the entire route along Lafayette St. / Old St. Augustine Rd. Not because Lafayette St. had the only hill climb of the route, rather the lack of shoulder and traffic. Can't complain too much though, to only have 2-ish miles of sketchy riding along a 160+ mile route is solid route planning. It's practically unavoidable when a route traverses population centers.
The final singletrack miles along the Kohl's / Fern trail corridor, this time in daylight!!
Finished!! 6:30p and a small shot of JD courtesy of our Atlanta flight.

Goofy finish selfie.
A couple other riders had finished minutes ahead of us and while we chatted with them a pickup pulled into the trailhead. It was Chris, who had finished in one straight push on a singlespeed. He had a cooler of cold beer and offered to drive me back to my in-laws place a few miles away. What a cool thing to do. Thanks Chris.

I got cleaned up and Larry and I went out for a celebratory brew. K was still down at the beach until the next day, so I'd be sleeping in before thinking about packing the bike to ship home.

Full Photo album


I can't say enough good things about this entire experience. The people I met, the route, the locals and the critters. A special thanks to Karlos for hosting the event and to Mathew for putting together a stellar route that truly showcased the area surrounding Tallahassee.

Larry, what a fun time we had out there, glad I was able to share it with you. I look forward to more riding in the near future. See you out West!!


Arizona Bound: The Real Adventure

I pulled up the weather on Sunday night and got caught up on the developing situation in the Gulf. Hurricane Michael was strengthening and heading our way, likely landfall was west of Tallahassee sometime late Tuesday or early Wednesday. We were scheduled to fly out of Tallahassee on Tuesday afternoon. We really didn't have wiggle room to leave early and definitely not any later.

I saw Mathew make a post on the Tango FB page about grabbing a late breakfast, but I just missed the meetup. Drat. We decided a late lunch would work and a few other riders would be joining. We were met by Chris (my ride home after the Tango), Judy (PBR handups down at St. Marks) & Vince (Lunch stop at Outzs' Too). It was a great way to wind down the event and share some stories while tipping back a couple of brews. Thanks again for the hospitality.

K was on her way back to town from Destin, so I went out for a neighborhood spin to shake out the legs before dismantling the bike.
Neighborhood entrance.

Not sure what these are, but they looked fantastic!!

Quiet streets.

Boardwalk winding among the homes.

All that rain has to go somewhere.
K made it home and we met up with our friends for a carb loaded dinner at Mom & Dad's new digs.
Love this crew!!
I checked us in for our flight on Tuesday and all looked good. The next morning the flight was oversold!! Hurrican Michael was now bearing down on the Gulf Coast at Cat4 strength, we needed a Plan B quickly. A thorough search of the nearby airports had us flying out of Tampa early on Wednesday morning, but non-stop to Phoenix.

I got the bike packed up and dropped off at Taekwondo and then we picked up our rental car.
Ready for the journey home.
I checked our Tampa flight again and now that was oversold. Hmmm. We didn't want to drive down there and get stuck so I began checking airports west of the panhandle. So far nothing was available. We finally found a few non-stop flights to Phoenix out of Houston, so Tuesday around noon, we hit the road west. *I'd like to thank the kind lady at the Budget rental counter in Tallahassee for giving us the additional Costco discount on the rental car. Little did we know we'd be changing our reservation 3 times in order to get home and the discount carried all the way through.
I-10 W in Florida. Outer bands of Hurrican Michael overhead. Wind was picking up and a few rain squalls encountered, but otherwise clean sailing.

Leaving Florida and welcoming the sight of clearing skies.

Welcome to Alabama and all the fleeing traffic. We were in stop-n-go traffic for about 25 miles coming into Mobile.

Mobile, AL skyline.

The Mississippi welcome center was rather luxurious.

Wildlife carved trees.

Fancy signage.

Cajun country.

Two fisting the extra large cans.

Shrimp po-boy in Baton Rouge hit the spot.

Guess where we are?

Right at the border, everything's bigger in Texas.

I tried getting a picture of this sign, but it was dark and raining. 857 miles to El Paso!! Photo courtesy of the interwebs.
We arrived in Houston sometime around midnight, found a cheap hotel near the airport and checked our 6a flight. Oversold. The next four flights didn't look much better, so we opted to sleep in a bit, check the flights again in the morning and go from there.

Down at breakfast the remaining flights for the day were all oversold. Nothing out of Dallas, Austin or San Antonio. Looks like we're driving all the way home. One more change to the rental reservation and we were off...again. Aside from the extra cost, we both took it all in stride, not much else to do but enjoy each other's company and an impromptu cross-country roadtrip.

Heading towards downtown Houston.

We used to love eating here when they were open in AZ, K just happened to remember to search for one nearby. So good.

Texas is flat.

Hills appear near San Antonio.

So much I-10 driving and we're still not halfway to El Paso!!

One of the small west Texas outposts.

The vast expanse of west Texas.

Then this!! Amazing fading light coming into Ft. Stockton.

Iron horse sighting.
 We arrived into El Paso sometime around 10p and found another cheap room within a stones throw of the Mexican border. We were ready to get home.
El Paso has grown quite a bit since our last time through.

Is this Los Angeles?

Downtown El Paso.

Just across the barren Rio Grande lies Juarez, MX.

877 ticks later, we arrive at Texas Mile 0.

Hello New Mexico!!

Fun welcome center in New Mexico.

Trail history.

Old school welcome sign.

Had to stop for a green chile cheeseburger in Las Cruces.

Ginormous roadrunner along I-10.

First sign for Tucson!! We're getting close.

If you've ever been to South Dakota, you know about the Wall Drug billboards. The Thing? is Arizona's version of Wall Drug.

Into the Pacific watershed.

I had to point this out to K, as she'll need to exit here next year to pick me up after riding the Tour Divide.

Looking south towards Mexico.

Route scouting!! What kind of resupply was available here? Not a whole bunch, but enough for a border run.

Welcome to State 48!!

Posing with Rambo.

When in Tucson, this is a must stop for eats. Seis Kitchen is rad.

Ominous desert sky.

We made it!! 1951 miles from Tallahassee.
The one-way rental car, with discounts, cost $660. Plus gas, lodging, food and I had used all my vacation time earlier in the week - so 24 hours unpaid, plus dropped shifts for my part-time job. It was an expensive extra few days. In spite of that, it was a great trip and we made it home safely. No one else I'd rather go into debt with!! Love you K!!

Sadly, the panhandle area took a heavy hit from Hurricane Michael. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the storm. Please consider a donation to the American Red Cross as there are still people in need.


  1. This is awesome John!! I enjoyed reading and especially enjoyed all the pictures!

  2. Great write up and an amazing time, class act my friend, I enjoyed every minute! Can't wait till the next go round;-)

  3. Ahh, the joys of staff travel! It is always a great way to get the blood pressure up! At least you got to scout the TDR underpass.....that cafe’ at Separ wasn’t open when I went through at about 5am during my run.
    Great write up on the Tally. Very different climate to PHX and you would certainly feel the humidity when you aren’t used to it. Seeing a gator would have been cool!
    A quick question - are you planning on running 3” tyres on the Divide run?
    Cheers. Dave.

    1. No kidding, right? 3" on the Divide?? No way!! Either 2.0's or 2.2's. I wanted the 3.0's in FL for the sand.