Saturday, June 20, 2009

Time to hit the road

It's Saturday morning early, and it's time to get on the road to Idaho to meet Linda and drive to my ride start point.  It's been a "good" hectic week, full of four days of paid work, plus meetings, plus a graduation, plus trying to get stuff set out to pack, so my sleep cycle can use some adjustment.  I've been to bed by 10 most nights, and up from 3:30 to 4:30 each morning.  While I know I'll be working hard on the ride, it will actually be less hectic than being home getting ready.  I know that Max will be glad I'm not in a class or a meeting.  He has been my shadow when I'm home, and now we'll be together constantly for 30 days.

The article and photos that the Skagit Valley Herald did on my ride came out in this past Thursday's paper.  The photos show my bike and trailer arrangement, and Max was a real ham for the camera.  If you want to check out the article, you can go to "" and look for the news from 18 Jun 09.  I'm also going to try to get it posted on "" where all the rest of my news has been so far.

The car is halfway packed, and the rest is ready to load.  I plan to do a dry run with all my gear in the bike trailer when I'm in Coeur d'Alene waiting for Linda to arrive from her sister's in Canada. While I'm confident I'll have the weight below the maximum recommended, the bulk or "cube" of the load may have Max riding pretty high in the trailer.  It is impossible for me to carry all the food supplies for both of us--even with dehydrated rations--so I've arranged for four of the ID affiliates to stash a sack of supplies from which I'll replenish when I get to each of those points.  The idea is to have what I need without carrying extra stuff.  For example, since it is going to be late June and all of July, I need to count on good weather for the most part.  I'm taking a rain jacket and one long-sleeved polypro shirt--everything else is short sleeves and shorts (actually convertible pants).  I'll be living in shorts and T-shirts for most of the month.  If the weather gets too cool, I'll have to pick up something along the way.

All the ID HFH affiliates are doing a great job of arranging support for me and planning an event to justify local media covering my ride through their area.  Each has arranged a place for me to stay, plus one of our Skagit HFH Board members "volunteered" her mom's place in Council, ID.  All in all, I expect to sleep outside using my tent maybe 11 times.  If I get tired of sleeping on the ground, it may be less than that.  I find that the ground gets harder the older I get.

OK, that's enough.  My next postings will be from Idaho, and after the 24th, Linda will be posting them for me each evening.  I'll be taking photos along the way, but probably won't be able to include them until I get home, and can add them to this blog after the ride.  Wish me luck and I hope you enjoy following my progress.

"Recreation: Mount Vernon cyclist has a reason to ride (Skagit Herald)
June 18, 2009 - 04:50 PM
by Vince Richardson

Jim Duffield pulls his dog Max along a training route in Mount Vernon. Duffield will pedal the length of Idaho beginning June 25.
MOUNT VERNON — Trekking long distances for a cause is nothing new for Jim Duffield.
In 2006, the Mount Vernon man walked 410 miles, from Anacortes to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The trek raised money for Habitat for Humanity affiliates along the route.
Duffield will be on wheels for his latest endeavor to raise money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity.
He will pedal his Bacchetta recumbent bike the length of Idaho — the state where he grew up — from south to north. That’s 1,100 miles.
Duffield will pull a Burley Tail Wagon Trailer loaded with gear and his wirehaired dachshund, Max.
He’ll begin his quest June 25 on the west shore of Bear Lake on the Idaho-Utah border. If all goes as planned, he’ll ride into Porthill, Idaho, on the Canadian border on July 22. He plans to average 40 miles per day, and finish riding each day by 2 p.m.
“I need to be off the road by that time in order to get out of the heat,” Duffield said.
Along the way, Duffield will work with 10 Habitat for Humanity affiliates, participating in public appearances, making presentations and having “man-on-the-street” interactions in order to share information about Habitat for Humanity’s mission and to encourage new volunteers.
Follow his journey as it unfolds at For information about the journey, go to and click on the Duff Bikes for Habitat link.
“I have contacted each affiliate,” said Duffield, “and asked them what would work the best in regards to getting publicity. In Buhl, Max and myself will be riding on a float in a parade. I’ve told the affiliates that I’ll do just about anything they need — as long as it’s legal.”
He will camp, and stay at local affiliates’ homes and hotels while on the trek. The week before he leaves, he and his wife will drive the route in reverse. They will stash supplies at four affiliates.
Duffield understands that with the ecomony the way it is people may not be able to donate money. However, he said donating services or goods can fill voids.
“People can donate their time, expertise or help facilitate an event,” he said. “Work on a job site, a committee or donate materials.”
Along the route, Duffield will talk about Habitat for Humanity ReStores, one of which is in the works in Mount Vernon.
ReStores, according to Habitat’s Web site: “are retail outlets where quality, used and surplus building materials are sold at a fraction of normal prices. Proceeds from ReStores help local affiliates fund the construction of Habitat houses within the community. Many affiliates across the United States and Canada operate successful ReStores—some of which raise enough funds to build an additional 10 or more houses per year.”
As Duffield said, “If you can’t donate money, then maybe someone can donate a window or something.”
In Boise, Duffield will ride in the Tour de ReStore, where bicyclists will pedal from a ReStore in Boise to one in Caldwell.
“Then in Coeur d’Alene,” explained Duffield, “they are building their ReStore’s anniversary around my arrival.”
Going from walking to pedaling hasn’t been an easy transition for Duffield.
Getting used to his recumbent bike has taken some time. In particular, the clips he uses to fasten himself to the bike’s pedals.
“I am learning to ride with my feet clipped in,” he said with a semi-smile. “It’s taken a lot of practice. It’s just weird. I just have to remember to twist my foot to get it out. I am still struggling with sharp turns. That’s the hardest part right now. So far, I’ve only scared myself a couple of times. I haven’t had a major crash yet.
“Riding a recumbent bike, heck, lots of people take them on long bike rides. That’s nothing new. What’s new is I am an old guy on a recumbent bike pulling a dog. That’s my shtick.”
Duffield is slowly learning the nuances of the bike, such as not grasping the handlebars too tight and handling the rather short wheel base.
“It is so comfortable,” he admitted. “It’s sort of like sitting in an easy chair. It has 27 gears that I am trying to learn how to use appropriately. I also have a GPS unit attached to the handlebars, and I plan on carrying my IPod so I can listen to music.”
Duffield is looking forward to seeing his home state at a much slower pace than he’s used to.
“This is about as slow as you can see it,” he said. “It’s going to be a good pace. Plus, I think folks are really going to be excited about it.”
That pace may slow to a crawl near two mountain passes. White Bird Hill lies between White Bird and Grangeville on U.S. 95 and climbs 3,000 feet in 7.2 miles. To get from Lewiston to Moscow, Duffield will climb 2,000 feet on sweeping switchbacks as he travels up Lewiston Hill.
“My tires will cover every inch of the route,” said Duffield. “My butt will probably not be in the seat the whole time. I’m not too proud to walk and I realize there will be sections were I will have to walk. I’ll walk where I have to.
“I know there are going to be places where I am going to struggle. But they are going to be beautiful. Idaho is a beautiful state.”
Then there’s always concerns for safety.
“Running off the road,” said Duffield, “and getting mugged. Those are two big concerns of mine. I will be able to get help along the way, but you have to trust that things are going to go well. The nice thing about Idaho is that you can ride your bike on the interstate.”
And the weather?
Duffield said June is a good month to get started. It shouldn’t be too hot, too cold or too windy.
“I hate riding in the wind,” he said. “That can be a real struggle.”
As far as Max is concerned, Duffield believes his pooch will aid his efforts to educate people about Habitat for Humanity.
“He loves it,” Duffield said of his dog. “He’s going to be my buddy out on the road.”
Wirehaired dachshunds are outgoing toward new folks. They love the outdoors and boast an intense curiosity.
“He just loves people,” Duffield said of the puppy he’s had for about six months. “He wants to meet everyone and he thinks everyone wants to meet him. He’s going to make a great traveling companion and be a great icebreaker. People don’t know a lot about Habitat for Humanity. I hope to really be able to spread the word.”
Max will lay on Duffield’s supplies and on a moist chamois in order to stay cool.
“I plan on stopping every hour for water and I’ll make sure Max gets some as well,” he said. “I will be constantly checking on him.
“The trailer has a 75-pound capacity. Thirty pounds of that will be Max.”
If things don’t go as planned, Max will get a reprieve in southern Idaho where Duffield’s wife will take the dog. While Max may get a ride home, the same can’t be said for his owner.
“If I’m not doing well,” said Duffield with a laugh, “I have to keep going. I won’t have the same luxury as Max. I have a schedule to keep. I have no option but to keep on riding.”
So, why no walk this time around?
“That would have taken me three months,” said Dufflield. “I walked for a month last time and my feet hurt. They hurt a lot.
“I am looking forward to getting started. At the same time, I don’t want to make a fool out of myself. As long as I can stay healthy, I’ll be fine. It’s a long haul, but I have a month. I’ll make it.”
It is indeed a long haul for a noble cause.
Vince Richardson can be reached at 360-416-2181 or by e-mail at
Ways to donate to Habitat for Humanity:
1. Cash/check/credit card donations can be used and are tax deductible.
2. Consider donating a day or more of your time on a Habitat job site.
3. Every Habitat affiliate could use help with volunteers serving on committees. Call your local affiliate and serve as much as you can.
4. If your local Habitat affiliate has a “ReStore” — selling discounted building materials, appliances, furniture, etc. — donate things the affiliate can sell to provide capital to build houses. That donation is tax deductible.
Donate to Skagit Habitat, to Habitat International, or to your local Habitat affiliate. For more information on how to donate, please visit the Skagit Habitat for Humanity Web site at and click on the link for “Duff Bikes for Habitat.” Or just call the local affiliate and say you want to help.
For those with kids and grandchildren, Jim Duffield offers this idea to get children involved in learning about community service and caring for others: use the ride as an educational event. Get a map of Idaho and have the kids keep track of his daily progress. They will learn some geography and see how long it takes to ride 1,100 miles.
Ask the children if they could donate to Habitat, say a penny a mile, and let them experience firsthand the joy of helping someone else. While visiting Duffield’s blog (, one can add comments about his entries or offer words of encouragement. "

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