Zionbound. 182km

It’s with mixed emotions – and very sore quads – that I write this blog post.

TheTouringTandem is winding down.  We’re getting old.  Our days of international bike touring are over.  (At least until we gather up a couple of children and come back out in ten years or so.)  It’s sad, and it happened unexpectedly.

The other day we checked into our hotel room at 8:15am.  After my cold shower, I got in my two hour nap.  Katy fuddled around on her Kindle.  Then we got to thinking.  What are we doing?  It’s too hot out there.  I’m sweating out of my shins.  (The other day I took off my spandex with a spatula.)

In the words of Hamilton – the Ham – Porter:  This pop isn’t workin’, Benny! I’m bakin’ like a toasted cheese-it! It’s so hot here!

Or if you prefer Dr. Evil:  It’s like sharks with frickin laser beams attached to their heads.

So we decided to change things up.  After a scurry of online planning, we got in bed at 7:50pm.  But as is never the case, neither of us could sleep.  I laid in bed and lived through the memories of the road.  They are good memories.  Ones we will relive again and again.  Often we will turn to each other and say, “Remember that ice cream shop in Ljulbljana?  Remember the tea in Ayder?  Remember Dartmoor?  Or the Po?   Wadi Rum?  The sunset in the Kackars?  Swimming north of Vang Vieng?  The balkava?  The prune crumble?  Remember the guy with his sheep in the hills above Srebrenica?  The furniture stores in Tirana?  Remember that slice of pepperoni on our way out of Udine?  The Indians who bought our dinner on Thanksgiving?  My barber?  Rebuilding our wheel in Kathmandu?

I tried to sleep, but my mind raced.

At 1am my alarm went off.  I shot out of bed.  The sun would be up in five and a half hours, and that meant heat.  Lots of it.  Gotta get a head start.  We raced off to the twenty four hour 7-11 to stock up on water and sugar, but found the morning market just starting to set up.  Who sets up a market at 2am?  We found our favorite, khao lam, and grabbed four, jammed then in our panniers (panniers I will miss packing each day) and got on the road.

As we rolled out of the parking lot a lady waved and said, “Goodbye.”  How did she know?  How does she know we are leaving?

At the first intersection, three minutes down the road, we had to choose.  Stick to our new plan or continue with the original plan.  I wanted to stay on our bike and enjoy three more weeks cycling through Thailand and Myanmar.  But, more than I wanted to stay, I wanted to leave.  The heat is dreadful. No point finishing a great trip hiding inside under the air-con.  We decided against enduring three weeks of stifling heat.  I turned left.

We rode from 2:30am until 11:30am.  It was a solid 9 hours in the saddle, 182km.  Our longest day of the trip.  Katy is tough.  When I wanted to quit, I just thought to myself, if she is still out here, surely I can toughen up.

We hit a steep climb early, and my quads ached.  Very, very sore quads.  Then it was a gradual roll until 8am when the headwind picked up.  It was a hot, muggy, hazy, ride-through-campfire-smoke, munch on Khao Lam kind of day.  At 9am, when the sun was raging and our butts were sore, we turned to each, smiled, and said “Enjoy it, it’s our final kilometers in Asia.”  We rode the last 20km slow.  The heat felt great.

Katy is – as you might already know – tough.  She’s strong – I don’t know many others who can jump on a bike at 2am and ride hard for 9 hours.  She’s optimistic – when the sweat was flowing off of us, and I pulled off the road into the shade cause I wanted to die, I would turn around and it looked like Katy and got just got of a swimming pool, but she had a big smile on her face.  When I came close to just hailing down a truck and hitching into town I thought, if my wife can do this, surely I can as well.   Katy is tougher than nails.  How she’s endured nine months on the back of a tandem, without any say in direction, speed, shifting, gears or brakes, I am speechless.  I don’t know anyone else who’s done what she has done.

**

But this trip isn’t over, yet.

Our new plan: go to the beach.  This morning we sat through an eight hour train ride (but only cost $2.25 each so it was worth it. Great discomfort to dollar ratio) to get back to Bangkok and in two hours we fly to Krabi.  Beach time.  Run around on some scooters.  Eat, eat, and eat.  Swim, swim, swim.

Then, after we’ve cooled off, we will reach our 10,000km goal.  We have 587km (365 miles) left.  On March 16th we will get to St. George, Utah and spend three or four weeks cycling through Zions, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches.  If anyone wants to come down for some hiking, biking, eating, or campfire-lighting mallow-roasting let us know. We would love to have you.

 

23 thoughts on “Zionbound. 182km”

  1. I’ve been a silent follower on your trip and have loved living vicariously through you as took care of a toddler and a newborn in A2 and reminisced of our own pre-child traveling life. What an incredible adventure this has been! Thank you for sharing with all of us back home.

  2. Sounds like a good decision to me! If the heat is keeping you from enjoying it, then it’s time to head to a better climate. Even though it broke 50F here today, I’m still not getting the bike out yet. The snow is going to have to be long gone for that to happen. Would really love to head to St George and bike with everyone, but I’m not that much into camping. Actually, I’m sure the camping would be great too, it’s the 1,868 miles (yes, I checked it on Google Maps) and all the appointment rescheduling that I would have to do. Maybe we can catch you for some Thai food when you get back to Michigan, you’ll be needing a fix shortly. Not sure when med school starts again, but if you feel the need to visit another primitive foreign country with your tandem, there is always Ohio!

  3. Well done guys. No point carrying on if you’re no longer able to enjoy it. Onwards and upwards to new adventures!

  4. And I had just discovered your story! Was good while it lasted, plus you have a lifetime of adventure ahead. Good luck!

  5. Your tribute to your lovely wife moved me to tears. I’d say mission accomplished and wahoo! So happy and thankful for your safe travels thus far. Winding your way through Southern Utah will be SO MUCH FUN.

    ccc

  6. I’m sad I won’t get to read your posts anymore, and that you won’t be out adventuring. But,
    it’s high time for some doms, tacos, and Seinfeld.

  7. So I guess this means you won’t be visiting Fresno? Shame… Although you’re aversion to haze and heat may make it a good choice.

  8. So, what are my tears all about? As I read through your post again this morning I could feel the sadness in your hearts for coming to the end of what started out as an amazing journey and kept escallating as you continued to tic off the number of countries and miles you have visited and traveled. In Thailand we got to see & feel first hand the love you have for the people of the countries you have visited and know it will be hard for you to leave that behind.
    Perhaps it’s tears of joy in thinking you are coming home to spend a few weeks and we will get to hear more about this amazing adventure.
    Thanks to you Clayton for expanding the horizons our daughter and valuing her for the great youg woman she has become. Man, can she do Hard Things!! And, all with that electric smile that makes whoever sees it know that everything will be okay. We love you both and have tears of relief that you have made it safely to this point.
    Love, Dad

  9. A few more weeks in Asia would have been great but Southern Utah sounds PERFECT!! As we left Thailand, my one regret was we never even saw the tandem let alone take a spin on it with you. I thought a little sadly, that’s just how it worked out. Now look how it’s worked out!! Count on a visit from us!!

    Your tribute to Katy is very touching. She has always wanted to experience everything possible and she found a perfect soul mate in you! Thanks for loving her and making your partnership a worthy one. We love you both so much.

    1. Can’t wait to see you, again. I was also sad that our tandem was locked away while you visited, but as it turns out now it seems you just might get to ride it yourself. I sure hope so. (And I’m a better bike rider than motorbike rider.)

  10. St George is too hot! Plan on staying in Toquerville. We will meet you at the airport.

  11. I am so sad you guys are ending the trip. But I couldn’t think of a thing I would like less then dealing with that heat and the smoke filling the air. i can’t wait to see you though!! You will have so many people come join the touring tandem. Clayton you are right Katy is tough as nails!! Katy – you DID hard things!! Count us in on some adventure time with you guys!

  12. We miss U guys. What an inspiring journey. We wish we could enjoy yr time in St George. Post photos!

  13. What a wonderful tribute to Katy!
    Heat can take the fun out of anything.
    No need to feel that your bike tour came to a crashing end. You have been wholly successful in all ways. !!

    I am gathering together the Pratt family camping gear! Can’t wait to roast marshmallows with you! I’ll bring Charlie and our bikes!

  14. What do I have to live for now!?! Your blog posts are often the most exciting part of my day!

    1. I’m actually so happy you are coming home to hang out here for a while before you head back to Michigan. Love you guys and I already know that when I see you I’m going to start crying.

    2. What do you have to live for? What do I have to live for? Can’t wait to see you.

    1. That sounds like a good plan. Swing on by. Bring a bike. Bring the baby. Let’s sit around a campfire.

  15. I have totally loved reading all of your posts and will miss sharing your adventures vicariously, but I can also relate to the oppressive heat and humidity of Thailand! I don’t blame you one minute for changing your plans..I don’t know how you have been able to do what you have done! Enjoy your much earned time on the beach and your family when you get home. We, over here in Madagascar, are trying to navigate the massive flooding, mudslides and resultant destruction of these tropical storms–more poverty and suffering for the people of Madagascar. Our eyes, like yours, have been opened to cultures and lifestyles much different than our own, but hearts and minds that have forever been changed because of it. Thanks for sharing your wonderful adventures! God bless!
    Michele

  16. This makes me kind of sad. Melancholic. So I can only imagine what it is like for you and Katy to be thinking about returning home soon. What a beautiful tribute to Katy. Tough as nails on the inside and sweet and gentle on the outside is a great combination. I guess the good news is that we will see you both soon ( and for longer?) than expected back here in happy Valley. Have fun at the beach! Love, Dad

    1. We should be in Utah for an entire month. Maybe you could kick off your new love of cycling with a bike purchase and bring it down to Southern Utah. I could advise on a bike to get.

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