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Day 6 of 7…

It’s hard to believe that in 3 days you can ride a bicycle from Douglas, AZ to El Paso, Texas. But we did! We picked up Pancho Villa’s trail in Columbus, USA, a town he invaded in 1916. Then we headed north to Mesilla where Billy the Kid was tried for murder. All riders holding up well. Even 76 year old Alex Klopfer is kicking it!

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Today we pedal up and out of the Rio Grande valley and into the Black Range Mountains to the ghost town of Kingston. We received a $1,000 donation today so our goal of $18,500 is in sight. With a few more donations, next Sunday we will feed 5,000 people!

Lease help us with this international effort:  Donate HERE

Emily’s Run for Scholarships

On November 6, 2016 Extreme Karma Fundraiser – Emily Falkner – ran the New York City Marathon. She dedicated her run to raising money for our Barrio Scholarship program. She blew her goal away and raised $4,000! We are SO proud of you Emily.
Emily quote after race: “Best day ever! I New York!!”

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Emily with her scholarship student, Mariel.

Mariel graduated grade school with a 9.7 GPA. Her scholarship is for High School, where in her first semester she is the leader of her class and the point guard on her basketball team. Mariel wants to study medicine when she graduates High School.

Following torrential rains we slogged into Douglas yesterday for the start of our Rancho Feliz “Lost Tequila Trail 400” fundraising Bicycle ride.

After a sumptuous dinner and drinks at Robin Brekhus’s, Avenue Hotel we all went to bed only to be awakened by Kevin Johansen stumbling in at 2:30am.

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Robin fixed us biscuits & gravy and eggs and the 9 cyclists were pedaling by 7:30am. Southern Arizona gave us a perfect cycling day and all riders made it the full 70 miles to Animas, NM. Our crew of Alejandro, Andres & Reyes were top notch and we’re now in Lordsburg, MN about to hit the town and comida Mexicana real.

Don’t forget, we’re paying all our own expenses and raising money to feed 5,000 people this coming Sunday. Please donate generously. Thank you! Gil

Donate here!

Riding to feed 5,000 people

Extreme Karma Bikers Riding to Feed 5,000  

We have a group of Extreme Karma Riders set to conquer the Lost Tequila Trail 400 at the beginning of November.  Their goal is to raise $18,500 (and awareness) for our Fall 2016 food & blanket distribution.

Please support these Extreme Karma Riders to raise money to feed 5,000 people for a week and help keep them warm for the winter. Working together we can truly improve the lives of those not born into our same fortunate circumstances. Thank you!

Click on rider name to support one of them specifically:

Troy Gillenwater
Gil Gillenwater
Kevin Johansen
Mike Hobin
Morris Scott
Carlos Armenta
Ahmad Mohibbi
Joaquin Alfaro
Alex Klopfer

Or donate to the Fall 2016 Food & Blanket Distribution here:


[submit_donation_form campaigns=”Food Distributions”]

 

The Scotts are off…

Morris, Dalton & Casey headed out to start their Extreme Karma Challenge…

“The wheels of Karma spins … Do I choose this or that?”

Amtrak losing our box was unacceptable. Losing a day was stressful and caused problems, lots of them. There were many misdeeds to keep track of. Plans to change. Money wasted. We had been wronged and lied to, many times. People had been mean to us and disrespectful. “It will be ok”, they said, “don’t worry”. Mistakes, incompetence, apathy, this was a sacred time they were dealing with. Important.

There were so many things, horribly unjust. I began writing down all the Amtrak people that had disappointed us, the agents, the bus drivers, the baggage handlers, customer service, it was a lot of work just keeping it straight, the person, the deed, the resultant pain and misfortune. It took a long time, very complex, do I count the mechanic that worked on the bus that broke down or the manufacturer? The driver once or twice?

After a while I decided to list the people that had helped us, the parlor car attendant that spent 30 minutes on his own phone calling Los Angeles to have his buddy go through the baggage terminal there looking for the lost box and put it on the next train after he checked each piece on our car, the customer service girl that spent her break calling stations along the way to get someone to go on the baggage car to confirm it, the guy working the night shift at the Hostel that spent a bunch of time moving a full hotel around so we could keep our room another night. There were many. It was complicated, time wasted on us, sacrificed, union jobs had been jeopardized. So many good things.

We bought cookies for the guy at Feathered Friends that offered to let us keep our bikes there, “walk he said”, it will feel good, relax you guys take it easy, we’ll watch your bikes, they will be safe here”. The people in Seattle that tried to explain forgiveness. The excellent dinner we had. The baggage manager in Seattle that texted us, that he had “our box and it was missing us”. Did I say forgiveness? After all isn’t that what we came to find?. Like working our biking muscles maybe flexing our forgiveness muscles are how we practice. The journey continues…

Our lost box, once found I notice my mind groping, like a man in the dark, for the next thing to grab ahold of.

Kathleen Day 2 ~ memorable

This is the sign now appearing on my jersey. Does anyone have a knitting group or competitive tiddlywinks I could join?

What a memorable day

We rode 130 miles with 8,200 ft. of climbing over the Cascade Mts. That alone was beyond me but to add in a thunderstorm and sleet at the 91 mile mark and you’ll understand the photo above. I bonked due to fatigue and cold temps but managed to limp into the town of Winthrop, which thankfully is quite charming.

Along the way I needed an attitude adjustment. Tired and shaking due to the cold and rain, can move one easily to complaining or quitting and yes I wanted to do both. Perspective can stop you in your tracks. Is this hard compared to the tremendous suffering people around the world endure and all kinds of sad situations??? Get a grip and be glad this is the situation in comparison, deal with it the best you can as it is not a life altering problem.

The really nice part was the sun shining on the way to the mts. with orchards ( even the organic blueberries are humongous!), farms and all sorts of creeks and waterways. This area is called the American Alps which speaks to the beauty, snow covered peaks and glacial lakes and too many to count long “cascading” waterfalls. The views were spectacular with lupinesand larkspur lining the road with multiple look out points to see snow capped mts and aqua lakes below. This is considered one of the most scenic drives in America so perhaps an RV or anything with a motor would be advised.

Chance 7-6-16

Welcome to a Journey across the USA

Kathleen Kirk
July 6, 2016

Chance, choice and a challenging cycling adventure

AS A LIFE COACH AND SPEAKER I ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO LOOK AT THEIR PATTERNS OF THINKING AND BEHAVING, THEN SHARE STRATEGIES AND TECHNIQUES SO THEY CAN CREATE THE LIFE THEY REALLY WANT. MY PASSION IS TO INSPIRE AND EMPOWER PEOPLE TO EXPAND POSSIBILITIES.
CLIENTS AND FRIENDS HAVE ASKED ME TO POST AND SHARE THE TRIP WITH TIPS AND TOOLS FOR CHALLENGING TIMES. MY HOPE IS THAT THESE WILL BE USEFUL FOR ALL AREAS OF YOUR LIFE.

The Trip: July 17- August 17, 2016 3,501 miles in 31 days!!
Joining a group to ride bicycles from Washington State to arrive in Boston in 31 days.
This is an average of 113 miles a day. YIKES…

Because: It is a totally challenging adventure
The Cause: Rancho Feliz:  Extreme Sport/Extreme Karma

PLEASE JOIN ME ON ON THIS JOURNEY BY SUPPORTING this incredible charity.
This link takes you to their site and my goal to help them.
Extreme Karma Rider: Kathleen Kirk
Kathleen Kirk went to Rancho Feliz in Agua Prieta, Mexico directly after riding the Cochise Classic 97 miler. Friends asked if the ride was hard. This is what she shared with them:

“What is hard or challenging depends on perspective. Compared to what? Arriving in Mexico only to be greeted by a HUGE street load of perhaps thousands of people dragging bags filled with garbage, to clean up the area, with the hope of exchanging it for a bag of food was overwhelming, painful and downright shocking. We got to work filling the boxes and bags. Then it became heart wrenching when we ran out of food to give those who had waited patiently for many hours in the sun. All I had left to give was Love so I gave out hugs and think it was me who was beyond touched by the poor thanking me in Spanish for being there. The contrast from riding a nice bike, eating snacks along the way to this situation took me tearfully to my knees. What am I doing in this life to assist others who deserve dignity, decent living conditions and face extreme challenges with few opportunities?
So please join me in donating money, time and spreading the word to help our brothers and sisters in this world. See the Rancho Feliz site to be inspired and to open the eyes of your soul to what joy there is in giving to our fellow humans.
With love and gratitude,
Kathleen

Kathleen kirk
challunities@gmail.com

Greatest Lesson

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The final and greatest lesson I learned while bicycling 1,200 miles across Namibia and South Africa.

It’s been a week now since we rode victoriously into Cape Town. I’m currently sitting in the airport lounge (such as it is) in Hoedspruit, South Africa. Feeling is slowly returning to my palms and wrists. I no longer whence when sitting. I still have limited use of my right hand due to a pinched elbow nerve that was battered by bad dirt roads. The late night leg and shoulder cramps are dissipating and I’ve gained back 5 of the 25 pounds lost.

“What is my take-away?”, I ask myself. In broad strokes, for me the ride started as pure unmitigated torture. First of all, I joined a group of seasoned riders who had already pedaled 6,300 miles from Cairo, Egypt. The average age was around thirty. This was their 8th and final section and they were anxious to finish. Keeping up was an elusive impossibility. Next, 1,000 of the 1,200 miles we rode were sandy, wash-boarded (labeled corrugated by the locals), dirt roads totally ill-fitted for bicycles. That’s right, 1,000 miles – as in from Phoenix to the Canadian border on a dirt road. Add to that, 112-degree heat and brainless drivers roaring by within a foot or two showering rocks, their contrails bathing you and your lungs in fine gritty dust. Had I any idea I would have at least brought my mountain bike. Instead, I rode the entire route on a hybrid hard-tail (no rear shock) with drop down handlebars. Our final 7 days (of the 15) were back-to-back averaging over 150 kilometers and 3,000 vertical feet of climbing each. (One day we climbed over 7,000 feet.) Unable to secure consistent momentum or traction, my miles per hour were compromised. Consequently, I averaged 8 – 9 hours of riding (actual “on the bike” hours) per day. This left me little time to clean up, wash my cycling gear, work on my bike, set camp, eat dinner and wash dishes for we were usually in bed by 6:30, up at 5:30 and riding by 7:00. The full tour riders said it was arguably the hardest section of all. It was brutal. It was unforgiving. It was relentless. For me, it began as true torture.

On several occasions I became despondent. My world centered around me and my travails. It was a myopic, self-centered view and I swore I’d catch a bus to Cape Town and fly home. At 62 years of age “I” didn’t need this.

But I pedaled on. Here’s how: I was able to shift the context of my ride into an arena much larger than “me”. I reminded myself that I was helping my friend Mike Hobin (who began his 7,500-mile ride in Cairo) raise funds for Rancho Feliz. Suddenly the ride wasn’t about another feather in “my” cap of grueling endurance adventures. I started to think in terms of my pedal strokes equating to scholarships. It was about people pledging donations for every mile we rode. It was about forever changing the lives of children not born into our same fortunate circumstances.

This shift in perception, in consciousness, imbued my ride with purpose. It was a purpose much larger, richer and more rewarding than a personal achievement. Suddenly I was energized. A new optimism surged thru my veins and I rode stronger – more determined. Sure I still suffered, my legs were just as tired and my bum just as sore. But it seemed a small price to pay as I visualized the young lives my efforts, my pain, would forever change.

The ride and all its tribulations suddenly expanded far beyond “me”. It was as though a door was opened and I stepped into a much larger reality. I could enjoy the scenery, the new friendships, the different cultures and even the dirt roads. I found that things suddenly started going my way. I could relax a bit and trust that it would all work out. It’s said that Spirit reveals itself to those with a higher purpose. I know it sounds crazy but just when I couldn’t pedal another inch the hill would crest and I’d have 15 kilometers of downhill. Or the 157-kilometer day was miscalculated and I’d arrive at camp 6 kilometers sooner than expected. And the examples go on and on.

So again, what’s my take-away? Simple, to bring the greatest meaning and joy into my life I must have a purpose larger than myself. I must elevate my focus from my individual concerns and their constricting nature to the greater global good and its expansive possibilities. In other words, the best way to serve myself is to serve others.

It works and here’s the proof: I finished the 1,200-mile ride and “Team Rancho Feliz” raised over $60,000.

This was my final lesson. Gil

Special thanks to cycling coach, Jeff Lockwood (lifesport@cox.net), for training me for this ride and to Kaolin Cummens and his crew down at the Flat Tire Bike Shop in Cave Creek (www.flattirebikes.com) for their help in preparing and packaging my bike for its long trip to Namibia and back.

Dead-dog tired

Though we have finished the ride, I have a blog post that I was unable to get on-line due to the remoteness of our route. I would like to share this post with you now.

5-13-16
More lessons I’ve learned while bicycling across Namibia and South Africa. (Preface – these are my personal lessons learned. I speak for none of the other participants as everyone’s experiences are different):

21) Shammy Butter works. 9 hours of repetitive pedaling mandates it’s generous application. On hour 7 a slathering of Lanacane (benzocaine topical) is pure bum and sanity salvation.

22) As observed by Kevin Johansen, “When negotiating rough and sandy dirt roads it’s important to realize that there is a male side and a female side. The male side is on the left and the female side is on the right. The male side is rough though rideable and predictable. The female side is fluid but fickle. It can switch from smooth and rideable to rough and impossible without warning.” Though rather sexist, by and large I found Kevin’s theory accurate.

23) Women can suffer more and better than men. Our fastest and toughest riders are women.

24) The effort of the day is exhausting. We are typically in bed by 6:30. The coolness and beauty of the African mornings has us up at 5:30. Couple this with malaria medication and dreams are prolific. However, as stated by Troy, the day-long deplorable dirt road riding conditions fosters twisted dreams of violence and maniacal torture.

25) At the end of blistering heat days (112 degrees F) the only drink that bounces me back is a syrupy concoction of Sprite & Beer.

26) The endurance riders who have been out for 4 months “just do it”. They don’t question road or weather conditions. They don’t continuously internally auto-negotiate. Like the Nike commercial, they “just do it”.

27) No nationality is inherently better at bicycling than another. Our international group includes riders from England, Germany, Switzerland, Turkey, Holland, Angola, Greece, USA, Canada, Austria, South Africa and Belgium. All tough and relentless riders.

28) While riding you never, ever think about the end of the trip or even the end of the day. You just concentrate on your next stop – and then your next – and then your next…..

29) 70 seems to be the cut-off age. You seldom find cyclists on these endurance rides aged 70 or older.

30) Don’t fight your present condition. If it’s hot just be hot. If it’s raining just be wet. If you’re tired just be tired. Waging internal battles you cannot win just zaps your energy and frustrates your fragile frame of mind.

31) Everything changes. Bad riding conditions will change to good and visa-versa. Don’t get caught in the trap of hope. Just pedal.

32) Never, ever, under any circumstances ask, “How can it possibly get any worse?”

33) Riding with an overall sense of gratefulness makes your journey much easier.

34) Never give up and on yourself.

Day 14 of 15 and I’m dead-dog tired and sore as hell but still pedaling. Tomorrow it will all be over. Gil

bike under sand

11 Days in…

We did it….. on Saturday, May 14th at approximate 1:00 pm “Team Rancho Feliz” hit the Atlantic Ocean on the tip of Africa! Mike Hobin completed his mind-boggling 7,500 mile ride from Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa and Troy, Kevin, Eric & I completed our 1,200 mile section from Windhoek, Namibia to Cape Town. 80% of our ride was on dirt roads in very poor condition making this final section a true test of will. An overwhelming sense of relief, joy, gratefulness and exhilaration has captured us all, coupled with a tinge of sadness as this life-altering odyssey wound to its climatic end.

Though we have finished the ride, I have two blog posts remaining that I was unable to get on-line due to the remoteness of our route. I would like to share these blog posts with you. Here is the first one.

5-10-16
More lessons I’ve learned while bicycling across Namibia and South Africa. (Preface – these are my personal lessons learned. I speak for none of the other participants as everyone’s experiences are different):

16) People are people. Wherever you go in the world people respond in kind to a smile and a compliment. Our border crossing into South Africa was seamless. Everyone on the streets waves to us and today on the road when I passed a group of 20 or so workers they all stopped what they were doing and cheered and clapped for me. People are people. Most of our perceived dangers are in our own minds.

17) Meltdowns. I have witnessed 3 not counting my own. This type of extreme endurance pushes participants to their limits. And suddenly something snaps. It’s usually caused by a blindsiding realization that the perceived event/obstacle is greater than the will to proceed. Be it another monster hill, another brain-bouncing jolt of corrugated road, a relentless and battering head wind, a mechanical failure (which includes countless flat tires), the 713th careless speeding driver roaring by way too close, another endless section of sand that feels like riding with two flat tires, or just one more friggen buzzing fly trying to lay eggs in your ear as you pedal. This irrational explosion is nurtured by frustration and often has much more to do with your frame of mind than with the event itself. Meltdowns manifest in the vain screaming of profanities at no one or no thing in particular, the hurling of objects such as your bike, your day pack, water bottles or bike pump. Calling your friends assholes and telling them to f-off. Pleading, tear-infested howells and closed-fist gesticulations skyward towards God, Buddha, Allah, L. Ron Hubbard, Zeus, or Obama…. anyone who will listen. And lastly there is the just sit on the side of the road and sob – shoulder shaking sobs. When witnessing a Meltdown it’s best just to back away and let it run its course. Words of solace or encouragement are simply fuel to the fire so just shut up – it will pass.

18) Endurance bicycling is all about marshaling your energy. Accordingly, you must fuel and hydrate the body/engine to meet the circumstances. In the Namibian desert I would drink 6 – 8 liters of water and 2 liters of energy drink per ride. I’d shove energy bars and peanut butter sandwiches down my gullet on the hour. You make yourself do this whether or not you’re hungry or thirsty. It has nothing to do with hunger of thirst – you are simply fueling the engine. For if you get behind the curve it’s too late and you will “bonk” pretty much ending the day’s ride and shattering your frame of mind. Remember, caring for your frame of mind is just as important, if not more so, than caring for your body.

19) Momentum is energy. Anything that slows your momentum (sand, washboard, wind) is stealing your energy. This includes hitting your own brakes. Every time you touch your brakes you are robbing energy from yourself. You become extremely aware of, and sensitive to, this fact. Accordingly, when you finally crest a hill or mountain pass you just fly down the other side at speeds you would never entertain on a regular ride. This also explains the extreme frustration of having your momentum compromised by crummy road conditions such as sand, bumps, brainless motorists and on and on and is often a major contributor to the Meltdowns described above.

20) It’s possible (though not advisable) to wear the same cycling jersey 4 days in a row without washing it. However, never wear cycling shorts more than twice without washing them. The consequences are too dire.

Day 11 of 15 and I’m still pedaling. More to come! Gil