So I just crossed southern Utah on a bike. Turns out it’s a lot harder than the Rockies.

In Colorado, I could afford a sort of blissful ignorance relative to my San Francisco deadline. The mountains and the altitude were all new to me, it was just the beginning of my alotted time to get from Denver to SF, and I expected there would be a learning curve anyway. Meanwhile I was conscious of several exit plans. If I ran out of time, I could skip most of Nevada by taking a Greyhound with my bike from Cedar City, UT to Reno, NV. If I attempted Nevada after all, and if I were to fall short, I could take Amtrak from Reno to SF. And finally, that solar eclipse was still nagging at me—it would have required trading Utah and Nevada for a huge skip via rental car from SW Colorado to Portland, OR, followed by a final bike ride to SF down the coast.

So many choices. Mostly, I was starting to feel agitated by the imminent end of my free time and also by the looming possibility that I could have trouble getting to SF on time. I was already having to write emails and take calls for soon-to-be-work while trying to climb those first Rocky mountains, so the reminders were sometimes daily. I started to frame my own question of how to spend my remaining time by: “what will I regret least?,” which is never a good position to be in. Then thankfully the cost of getting me and my bike from Durango to Portland doubled over night and made my decision for me. I felt more content with Plan A, and I kept heading west into the desert. So no avoiding it: I’d have to face my fears of days extreme heat and little access to water (achem, see: Kansas, achem).

Utah is an order of magnitude more difficult than Kansas ever was. The map segment through Utah earned a disclaimer that never appeared on the map for Colorado:

“This section of the Western Express Route is considered very difficult due not only to terrain (grades of 6% to 14% in Utah), but also due to lack of water, temperature extremes, and long mileage without services… Utah is extremely dry and most of the route has only rocks for shade.”

Yes. All of that.

The first day, between Dolores, CO and Verdure, UT, was uneventful. Boring even, like simple intersticial space separating two very different worlds. At a diner in Monticello (Mon-ti-SELL-oh), a woman at the next table over asked me where I was riding. “San Francisco.” “Oh, did you start in Boston?” Me, shocked, “yes…” “Oh I just read about you in the paper!” “Uh, oh, I hope not! I swear I didn’t do anything wrong!” It turns out it was some other guy entirely, doing the same thing. I’m sure neither of us is even the ten-thousandth person with that itinerary, but it made me smile.

The next day was the scariest. The Adventure Cycling Association maps do a good job telling you where there are large gaps in services. The first section in Utah had an 80-mile gap (with about a mile of climb) immediately followed by a 50-mile gap, punctuated by a single convenience store on the edge of Lake Powell that was supposed to close at 6pm. I had reason to doubt that even that was correct, and they didn’t answer their phone to help me feel more comfortable trusting my life to their operating hours. So I carried as much as I could: enough food for two days in case the store was closed and 5 bottles of water. I planned to drink out of the lake if the store were closed.

I started as early as I could. I meant to hit the road at 7am, but it ended up being 8am because a family with a screaming baby moved into my campsite at 4am then took an hour to set up—I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they probably didn’t see my bike, but they didn’t apologize either. I had a slow-burning panic all day that that store wouldn’t be open when I got there. The manager of the campsite had also just told me: oh that marina hasn’t been open for years… I kept my pace as high as I could manage all day. But it was also very hot and I went through water faster than I had planned; I was rationing it 20 miles out. The landscape was among the most beautiful I’d seen on a bike. But parched. It’s exactly where Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner play in the cartoons, the kind of scenery that makes you thirsty when you imagine it.

The first water I saw was at the bottom of a canyon, and I tried to think of how I could get there, but nothing made sense. Then I realized that all of my thoughts were about some form of water. I was just starting to feel desperate when I saw the first sign for Lake Powell. I knew I would make it, but I was also realizing then that I was more dehydrated than I remember ever being before, which was scary. My back ached (not normal despite what I’ve put it through) and my head had been hurting for a while.

Then there was, of course, one last steep climb before that store was supposed to appear, and though I was also nearly out of energy, water first! Partway up the hill, I felt dizzy, then that I was imminently going to pass out. As a mental trick I learned to deal with my fear of needles, I fixated on something else that I decreed would solve the crisis. In this case, drinking most of the last few sips of water I had left. That worked, and I got to that store at 5:37pm. Closed.

…but actually there were still people inside and the door was unlocked. They now close at 5pm, they said, but they just happened to have a continuous flow of customers that day after closing time that prevented them from locking up, and I was the very last. They were very nice. I bought a ton of food and a couple gallons of water, all of which I consumed by the morning. I didn’t have to drink out of the lake after all, but I did go for a swim in lieu of a shower.

Lesson #1: 5 bottles of water isn’t enough so I’d have to figure out how to carry more. Lesson #2: dehydration can sneak up on you and become a big problem all-of-a-sudden, so be even more careful. Lesson #3: get up even earlier in the morning.

The next day I started by crossing the Colorado River, which was tragically dammed to create Lake Powell on the 60s. The last time I was there, I was under that same bridge, a wide-eyed eighteen-year-old headed to college, just ending a weeklong Outward Bound whitewater rafting trip as part of my Emrick-Cutler scholarship to Ohio University. We took the boats out of the water there (back when the marina was open), and I would have walked by that same store.

Later on the road I caught up with a cross-country cyclist who was also headed to SF. That’s just twice in 2,500 miles since Boston that I’ve found someone else going my way; the last one was in Erie, PA, but she was exhausted and didn’t share much. This guy’s story was much cooler than mine. He was at work one day in Maryland, and he saw a story about a guy who rolled his wheel chair across the country. He thought “I could do that,” put in his two-weeks notice that day, and left for the bike ride two weeks later. He said he hadn’t touched a bike in over a year before that and had never gone more than ten miles. I hope I see him again somewhere on US-50 in Nevada.

Okay, so then came Utah Route 12. WHOA. You might have been wondering why my route through Utah was so circuitous. It’s partly because that’s what the paved roads do and partly because that’s what the great roads do. Utah-12 must be in the Pantheon for cycling.

It started in Torrey, UT with a 3K-ft climb over Boulder Mountain with a breath-taking 4K-ft descent to a small town with good lunch. I honestly thought that was about it for the day; it was enough. I headed south out of that town and almost immediately found myself on a knife-edge with thousand-foot drops on both sides and no guard rails. Pictures could never represent this, but the best I could do is below.

It’s the closest thing to flight I’ve ever felt. Better, even, than the downhill on the Marin Headlands loop north of SF where I first fell in love with cycling. From the knife-edge, you drop into a canyon to gently follow a river like you arrived by glider. But then like anything, you have to pay for it by climbing out of the canyon with some heart-taxing steep grades.

Since then and for the last four days now, little thunderstorm cells have chased me every afternoon. Really, like they have been appearing out of nowhere behind me and they always want to be where I am, headed toward me at right about the maximum speed I can maintain. None has caught me yet, but I still really don’t appreciate the stress. Thunderstorms, like I mentioned before, are particularly dangerous to cyclists on wide territory like I have been, where [even] I am the tallest thing around. One big un-forecasted storm stranded me where I was eating lunch then lasted for 12 hours. I stayed in that little town that night, but it threw off my math to have such a short riding day. I didn’t want to burn the full day of slack in my schedule I had earned through extra miles over several days before, so the short day had to be compensated for with a century (100+ miles) the next day, my last full day in Utah and the day of the eclipse.

Lastly, I have to say something about the people here. I’ve been blown away by how genuinely kind everyone is. I was coal-rolled once in Utah, but that stands out as odd all the more because almost every other driver has given me plenty of space. Drivers and motorcyclists have waved at me for encouragement as often as a few times an hour. That happened maybe three times in Colorado and never before then. I was waved at in the Midwest and East Coast several times, but with just one finger.

I met a family of three at a rest stop one day who were visiting from New York. We chatted for a while, and the young son posed with me for a picture. They found me the next day too as I was climbing Boulder Mountain. I heard a car slow next to me and a voice say “I thought that was Colin!” If you’re reading this, you’re awesome. Thanks for the pick-me-up.

During the eclipse, I was preoccupied with riding as far as I could as fast as I could, having accepted that this year I couldn’t participate. At a fairly high speed, I was just about to pass a guy and his daughter, who had just parked on the side of the road where they found a break in the clouds, when the man reached out to me to offer his glasses. I screeched to a stop, and I got to see that crazy bite out of the sun myself too. Still the greatest thing about that was that a stranger on the side of the road saw me as another human and offered to share something amazing with me. It shouldn’t be exceptional but it is. After riding through most of this country, I’ve become used to being treated fairly consistently as a nuisance on the road, and here there were so many examples of people seeing me as just a guy… who happens to be on a bike.

It feels so good to have all these people, locals and fellow travelers alike, acknowledge me as a person, and usually as a person who is doing something admirable. Crazy too, probably, but admirable. I couldn’t possibly ask for more.

Utah: Challenging? The hardest so far. Worth it? Yes.

The Rockies

Oh Colorado. How truly amazing you are. This. This was the reward for all those bleak miles that came before.

On the second, 80-mile day of the Boston to Montreal ride way back in the Spring, there was a steep 600-foot hill that several people were worried about. I was one of them because I kept hearing about it, and at the time, I had never done even 50 miles two days in a row, so that big hill loomed in my thoughts all day even though it wasn’t unusual by Bay Area standards. It’s definitely still tough, but it only lasted ten to fifteen minutes. After it was over, I could only conclude that I’d rather not have known about it so that it would not have dominated my day with fear. The Rockies were a looming fear factor like this from well before I even started. “Yeah, but the Rockies” is a phrase I’ve heard a lot from people trying to empathise with my plans. My reaction was to look forward to the mountains all the more strongly because, yeah, the Rockies… but I knew I’d get through them eventually, and maybe it would hurt less if it’s pretty. I got that one right!

Nine days from Denver to Dolores, Colorado—528 miles and 34,766 feet climbed, and the Rockies are officially vanquished. I’m not sure how else to describe how hard parts of this were. Or how exhilarating. But I can say that my time here has been far and away the best of the trip. Whatever it is I came here for, I’m sure I got it.


Each day was priceless, so it seems to warrant a chronology …and cool graphs from my Ride with GPS app.

Aug 7: Front Range


My first big day back on the bike was hard! I needed to get to Pueblo to meet the Adventure Cycling Association’s Western Express route that would take me straight to my new home. So 120 miles south, skirting the mountains, right? Wrong. That first day alone rivals all of the other days in the Rockies in terms of distance and climb. The route was beautiful, but the weather was awful. With still 40 miles to go, the rain started, I got soaked, and the temperature dropped to 55°F. I shivered for hours as I peddled, and eventually I felt like I needed to vomit from being so tired of shivering. The last 25 miles were all on a gravel and dirt bike path that got muddy, then dark (ahh, bears!). I missed getting to Colorado Springs before sunset because I had to wait out some lightning in the afternoon. Then 10 miles before the hotel I had booked, my newly tuned-up brakes both all but gave out, though luckily just as I was passing the first crop of hotels I had seen into all day. Safety first: I had to book a second room for the night and stop. It’s a good thing this was the first day, before my tolerance for ridiculousness had a chance to start eroding with the miles.

Aug 8: Pueblo


In the morning, with a clearer head, I took a look at those brakes because I wouldn’t be going anywhere without ’em. The pads were indeed replaced as I had paid for, but the screws that clamp the cables to the brakes were both loose and the cables had slipped. Easily fixed. Good to know.

Also, lesson learned from the day before: don’t plan to need to go the usual 80 miles before getting used to the high altitude or during Colorado’s “monsoon season.” So I took it much easier this day. More rain and lightening, but I was less rushed, so I waited it out by finishing that last blog post. I got stuck in mud once on a bike path, and I had to drag my heavy bike through it for a quarter mile. Then I rode around through puddles for a while to clean off the bike.

Aug 9: Intro to the Rockies


Woo! The Front Range of the Rockies is intimidating when you approach it head-on. I stared at a mountain that towered 4K feet above me for thirty miles before I even got to the base. It was my first all-day climb. It’s brutal. I found myself questioning if it would ever end after just the first hour. Once you’re in the lowest gear, the only option is to work harder when it gets steeper. I found that playing music helps with long, hard climbs.

You get a lot less oxygen per breath as you go up, and it’s obvious when you’re exerting yourself. Somewhere on that first big hill, I gave up trying to ram that much air through my nose, and I’ve been a proud mouth-breather in the mountains ever since.

Aug 10: Approach to the Great Divide


I had my first long downhill, about a third of the way through the day. Otherwise I quite peacefully spent the day climbing on one side or the other of the Arkansas River. I stopped for a while in the town of Salida (Sah-LIE-da), which was hard to leave because I was just not feeling that big climb that was waiting for me after.

That night I stayed at a mountain lodge 5 miles short of the continental divide at about 10K feet above sea level. Just before I was about to turn left into the parking lot, a car passed me very closely. They were turning left too, and they were probably preparing to take that left by going slightly to the right first like many drivers do. As I pulled into the parking lot behind them, the driver stepped out and right away apologized for passing me so closely. I said thank you and that I appreciate that. It also, at the time, made me feel better that probably a good number of the close calls I’ve had weren’t intentional. The group checked in at the front desk ahead of me, and there was enough time that we started chatting. The gentleman, the driver, asked where I was headed, and then he told me all about each climb I would encounter. So of course it turns out that he’s a cyclist too. And the younger woman in the group, perhaps his daughter, lives in Boston.

I woke up constantly all night long gasping for breath. I get that I have to breathe more deeply here, but my sleeping self hadn’t gotten the memo yet.

The next morning I saw the same group at breakfast. The gentleman came over to sit with me for a while, and he introduce himself as Roger. He said he’s cycled many of the roads in Colorado but not all. He added that it’s rare to see someone cycling alone cross-country going the direction I was headed. I can imagine why! Then Roger gave me his phone number and offered that if I’m ever in any trouble in Colorado, I should call him and he’d come get me; he’s retired and he wouldn’t mind! So shout out to the amazing cyclist Roger. It made my day to talk with you.

Aug 11: Great Divide and Down the Other Side


I crossed the continental divide at Monarch Pass on US-50. At 11,312 feet, it’s one of the highest paved roads in the U.S. Great view too. And man that felt good to get there. At the top, I met several hikers who were also passing through going north or south along the Great Divide trail. I enjoyed talking to one older gentleman who has hiked 10K miles with his wife and dog over the past four years. He has diabetes, and he felt his body deteriorating, so, he thought, now’s the time! And his wife was up for it too.

The downhill from the Divide was epic. Too long, actually. My eyes were burning from the wind as if I had been cutting onions, despite wearing sunglasses. But fun! Just before I got to Gunnison, CO, I passed a group of three middle-aged guys who were clearly on their own cross-country trek going East. That’s always a thrill: “Other crazy people!” One shouted to me that I did a great job packing light 🙂

Aug 12: Black Canyon


The Black Canyon of the Gunnison has to be among the most impressive of the western canyons. It’s crazy deep and crazy narrow. From some parts of the rim, I remember from visiting with my parents in 2003, you can’t always see the river at the bottom because the tall walls undulate and seem almost to touch. I got to spend the day riding along side it, with a brief stop in the canyon at about the 50-mile mark. (You can tell when that happened in the graph above.) The rocks are a billion years old, likely older than multi-cellular life itself. The canyon is just 2 million years young.

At a gas station that hadn’t been updated in 50 years—creaking rusted signs blowing in the wind and all—I met two motorcyclists who thought what I was doing was awesome. It was awesome for me too because mostly the two kinds of bikers consider each other separate species. Not here!

Aug 13: Hot Springs!


I was looking forward to this for weeks. I made an appointment to stay at Orvis Hot Springs in Ridgway, Colorado as a kind of rest day. I started that morning in Montrose, Colorado, and I only had to go 30 miles and uphill about 1K feet. But one of my gear-shifting cables snapped. You can still ride a bike like that, but with the tension in the line gone, the derailleur reverts to the smallest (highest) gear. There was no way I could climb 10 feet like that without blowing out my knees. I was lucky I was in a town, but it was Sunday, so the two bike shops were closed. I really didn’t want to pay for that hot springs twice, so I had to get there. I found a replacement kit at Walmart, and, whelp, I figured it out. We definitely did not cover that part in the bike class I took. The tools I had with me are crude, but after about an hour in the Walmart parking lot cutting braided stainless steel wires with a rather blunt instrument, I made it work, or at least enough to get me to where I needed to go that day, and I got it professionally fixed at the next bike shop I found. That was my greatest bad-ass moment so far.

The same force that caused the Rockies to rise 70-or-so million years ago caused a magma chamber to rise below it, which has the effect of dotting the landscape with hot springs. I stayed , which is like a garden full of differently-heated ponds of water directly from the bowels of the earth. I got my first massage too, which was awesome. I met some nice people there too, some locals and some travelers like me trying new things. The handful of people who stay the night there have the hot springs to themselves all night. I had a giant hot spring-filled pond to myself for an hour under the starriest of skies.

Aug 14: “To-Hell-U-Ride”


Telluride is really beautiful. Dripping with money, really. There are gondolas that run all summer so you can take your mountain bike to the top of some of the ski runs and ride down, free from the pain of climbing and free of charge. I’m not sure how I feel about that from a purist standpoint, but if I could take a gondola wherever I wanted to go, I’m sure I would.

A bartender told me that a 24-year-old man was struck by lightening and killed by lighting while mountain biking near Lizzard Head pass the day before, which is of course where I was headed next. So I’m glad I’ve been sticking to the policy of waiting out lightening storms. It’s a reminder that the number of dangers are quite high.

Aug 15: Lizzard Head Pass


This was my last Rocky Mountain. Really nice day too. At the top I met a couple who were taking a break for lunch. The guy said he did his cross-country ride in ’84, but that he was carrying a lot more than I was. It was interesting to compare stories. I’m using a lot of tech on this trip: GPS, lightweight tent, probably a better bike, and it only makes me think how much harder any of this was just 10 years ago.

So with that, I’m off to Utah. Plenty more mountains to climb; they’re just not officially part of the Rockies.

My Time in the Wilderness

I’m back on my bike and two days’ ride from Denver, starting out this morning in Pueblo heading straight into the Rockies. I decided, after all, to attempt to finish exactly what I started—a straight shot to SF—rather than to, say, take a detour north to see the eclipse. This post is about what I’ve been up to in the last couple of weeks, which, though not generally on a bike, is still a significant part of my journey. Last I wrote, I was freshly dealing with my decision to skip Kansas. It was obviously unsafe to continue in that heat through the open, sparcely populated plains. But knowing I should do something and accepting it are two different things.

I ended my continuous streak in Emporia, KS, which is just large enough to have a couple of rental car places but not so large that they open on the weekends, and, I found out, sometimes they duck out early on a Friday afternoon. Since I got to Emporia on my precariously de-thorned tires at 4:30 on a Friday, my only option was to take a bus to Wichita the next day to get a rental car from Kansas’s largest airport. (The kind woman at the Dollar Rental desk gave me a free upgrade to a larger car so I wouldn’t have trouble fitting my bike!) One-way to Denver International ten days later.

Why ten days to Denver? I had plane tickets from Denver to Cleveland, with the intention that I would leave my bike in Denver, fly home to get clothes, my computer, and my passport then drive to a conference in Toronto where I had long planned to co-teach a lab class with my friend Daniel Hurtubise. Then I would retrace my steps and restart in Denver a few days later. There are no intermediate destinations to return a car (or to take a bus, train, plane, or anything else) between Emporia and Denver. I also couldn’t just go slowly or wait out the hot weather because I’d miss my flight. It was all or nothing.

All this meant that meant the point-of-no-return for my change of plans was nearly immediate: the very minute I boarded that bus to Wichita without my bike. It was the hardest bus ride ever. I was crushed, but there’s only so much I can control. I knew I’d have to “make Plan B better than Plan A,” much like the original motivator of my entire ride. I think I came close.

I found myself in the unlikely and enviable position of having a week with a rental car and a totally free and completely un-thought-about schedule. Why not knock out a couple of states on my list of those yet unvisited: Oklahoma and New Mexico.


I bought shorts and a t-shirt so I’d have something to wear that wasn’t spandex. I bought a cheap backpack, a hat, and some swim trunks just in case, and I went south to Oklahoma.

I tried to have fun in Oklahoma, I swear! It’s just hard. The state tourism website made a big deal about an annual Encampment with Native American dancing for a Tribe near Tulsa, but that ended up looking more like a family reunion that would be awkward to crash. On my way out of Oklahoma, I stopped at one of those over-the-top Route 66 roadside attractions, Pops Arcadia, which sells dozens of flavors of… pop (a.k.a. “soda”).

West Texas

Next up Lubbock, Texas. Mostly it was just in the right direction on the way to New Mexico. But its roadside attraction ended up being super cool. The American Wind Power Center and Museum, or basically A LOT of wind mills. It seemed to make me feel better about my adversarial relationship with the wind. It’s fascinating how early settlers harnessed wind to pump water and grind grain. Steam locomotives could never have crossed the plains without all the water stops powered by wind.

Only once I was there did it strike me that I knew someone in town. Jim Williamson, my first professor in architecture school, is now dean of the College of Architecture at Texas Tech. Jim was also the head of the admissions committee at Cornell that decided to take a chance on a physics and French major with a portfolio that I would have been embarrassed about had I known better. I looked him up, and he quite graciously rearranged his schedule the next day to take me out for lunch. The last time I saw Jim was before my career in design technology had progressed beyond working part time in Don Greenberg’s lab at Cornell, and I’ve been so many wonderful places since. We talked about how to teach evolving technology in school, germane to us both, but where I was in a position to share my insights this time too. In the context of my journey between coasts and between jobs, it was an awesome surprise to meet one of the people who long ago helped me get here.

New Mexico

In New Mexico, I started in Roswell, where the museum for the alleged conspiracy and cover-up of the 1948 alien spacecraft crash quite satisfyingly looks like a crazy person’s scrap book. If you’re having trouble believing, perhaps the life-size diarama with rotating heads will help!

At Carlsbad Caverns, I watched many thousands of bats fly out of the mouth of the cave at sunset before spending a few hours the next morning wandering around the gothic depths myself. (In the image below, notice the maintenance worker for a sense of scale.)

I hiked for miles up and down the dunes at White Sands, the world’s largest gypsum dunes, which, yes, are just as white as dry wall. The sunset there is epic.

Just north of El Pason TX, I had a great time catching up with my high school friend Jen Lucero, who has been following my trip on Instagram. I tried to visit the Spaceport America Visitor Center in Truth or Consequences, NM, to find only a rack of post cards and a woman who admitted that she first thought they were building it to help UFOs land (that’s silly—obviously they already land at White Sands). After seeing a road sign “60 miles to…” I took a long detour to se the Very Large Array (VLA) Radio Astronomy Observatory, of X-Files and Contact fame, but in all seriousness, an awesome scientific instrument in a stunning setting.

I rode on a cable car tram to the top of the Sandia Peak above Albequerque, a ride which holds the world record for the longest unsupported length between towers.


I ate at The Range Cafe, which is a local favorite and part-owned by my good friend Alexandra Bergin’s parents. She has a lot of stories from her childhood there, and it was very cool to visit. So good! Get anything with green chilli.

At Alex’s suggestion (she and Michael basically put a couple of days of my itinerary together for me!), I hiked through Tent Rocks, which sounded weird to me too until I saw it and realized weird is an understatement.

Then finally a quick visit to Santa Fe and a hike in the canyon of the Rio Grande near Taos, with a terminus at natural hot spring next to the river.

In case it weren’t obvious, I really got into the spirit of wandering around and indulging nearly every sight-seeing whim. I had my head entirely ripped out of the bike ride, my career, and everything else. It was awesome.

But somewhere toward the end of the week, I stared thinking: what if I didn’t go to this conference after all? What if I went back to Kansas?! I could snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and the weather there was safely back in the 90’s. The math was tight, but Kansas to San Francisco was at least conceivable in the time I had left. It would require skipping Denver entirely too, but I had already sacrificed so much, so why not more?

I decided to do it. I called my friend and co-presenter Daniel Hurtubise to tell him I couldn’t make it, and though he understood as much as anyone who isn’t literally on a cross-country ride could, I couldn’t escape the thought of letting him and others down, especially so late, just days beforehand. After a day more of thought, my go-back-to-Kansas plan started sounding increasingly selfish, and maybe a little unnecessary. I changed my plans again to go to the conference in Toronto, and so I continued on to Denver, where I would meet my flight a few days later.

Maybe you can see what I’m getting at. There was a grieving process for me because I feel like I failed myself by skipping Kansas, fair or not. It took days for me to work through, and maybe I’m not totally over it. It’s hard to describe, but I have long known that you can’t do something as big as what I’m attempting unless you really want it. I do, and that makes it hard to accept anything less. But I certainly don’t regret my week off, my time in the wilderness. In all the nearly three months since I was last fully employed, outside of that one week, I was never not working hard: consulting, traveling to weddings, moving, finding a new job, and of course biking. New Mexico for me was a time that was fully free of stress, and I’ll tell ya, that works wonders for the soul.

In other news, I discovered that now I’m totally ruined: touring by car isn’t nearly as satisfying as the full-contact-sport kind of touring you get with a bike.


In a few days in Colorado, I re-found family and caught up with old friends. My grandmother’s twin Ellen and her family moved out to Denver in the 70’s, long before it was “cool.” I knew it had been a while, but when I showed up on the doorstep of my mom’s first cousins Sharon and Vern Carpenter, we realized that we hadn’t seen each other since I was five. It turned into a very late night of laughing and drinking together with my Great Aunt Ellen, a nonagenarian who can apparently stay up later than I can. I also met my second cousin Collin (he’s older, so my parents stole the name) for only the third time; we were teenagers the last time, and he’s still a really cool dude with a very fun wife, Suttida, and new baby, Adelyn. We all had a great night drinking too, sans baby, who got carded. So cool to re-find family (left image).

I also got to stay with, and ride to Red Rocks Amphitheater with, my high school friend Ian MacKenzie. Ian decided he needed an adventure, and he moved west, found a better job, got married, and had a baby in just two years. Damn, son. Ian and his also-adventurous wife Kate were great hosts, even storing my bike for me for a week while I went to Canada and picking me up from the airport. Their daughter Aili is adorable. I gave her a stuffed alien from Roswell, and reports so far are that she likes it!

Oh! And I have to mention that I finally got to visit Four Noses Brewery in Broomfield, CO, which is co-owned by a grad school friend of mine David Bibliowicz and the three other noses in his family. Great beer and a beautiful space. David’s brother Tommy runs the place, and he gave me a tour. Tommy also once rode his bike across the U.S. with a group when he was in high school. He also volunteered that they skipped a couple hundred miles once too,… because it was too hot!


So to that conference. You know what? It was an honor to be there. Daniel publicly gave me crap for canceling and un-canceling, but in the process we got a great substitute-for-me-turned-third-partner John Pierson. This was also a great way for me to step back into the working world, albeit briefly. The result is that I’m looking forward to the end of my journey all the more, because I’ll get to work on really cool stuff with a lot of the people there. Thank you to everyone who made it possible for me to attend as an unemployed cyclist, especially Daniel and Chairman Wesley Benn. And thank you to my friend Tobias who let me use his computer for a day in Boulder so I could get ready for the lab.

On the last day, I played hookie and went kayaking with my grad school friend Ben, which was also awesome.

And that’s when I made it all public…

The News!

In September, I will return to Autodesk, to the Generative Design product team in the architecture/engineering/construction division. I’ll be a product manager for Project Quantum, which is a data-centric cloud platform that in all probability resembles the future of professional architecture software tools. Basically, architectural design requires an insane amount of information of all different types, with different authors, consumers, and legal requirements, which needs to remain useful over sometimes long timescales. Today’s software tools are mostly spot-fixes, which together reflect that general disorganization. The idea with Quantum is that project information should live in a central, shared infrastructure that is acted upon by software services as needed (optimize X, simulate Y, check zoning requirements for Z, etc.). Dynamo is a piece of this, but the whole project is a lot more ambitious. Among my responsibilities, I will help make Quantum useful for architecture workflows that I will also help to identify and describe.

I’m also happy to share that I will co-teach a new required course this fall at California College of the Arts with the general theme of digital workflows in architectural practice: building information modeling (BIM), parametrics, digital fabrication, and visualization. The first two in the list are my specialties, including a great deal of overlap with my day job. My partner in crime Clayton Muhleman will bring it home with the cool stuff: digi-fab and VR.

There’s plenty waiting for me on the other end of all this in California, and I can’t wait. But I don’t want to rush this. But I have to keep peddling. I’m not leaving Boston anymore, I’m going to San Francisco.

As for that whole skipping Kansas thing, well, now I’ll have a ready-made, meaningful way to spend a week clearing my head if I ever need it in the next few years. Not in July.