Stories from the Trail

It has only been a short time since the inception of the idea for Energy, Oh Energy and since then time has been disappearing in front of me.  The editing process is proving tedious but enjoyable.  As of last count, I have over 6000 video clips and this list is only growing.  The clips range from power plants to flat tires.  It has been a very interesting experience watching clips of me struggling in the desert.  It’s hard to relate back to what I experienced even though it was only a few weeks ago.  I sit in my office chair and comfortably watch the screen.  Some of the shots reflect the exact opposite feeling of comfort and security that I have now.  The same is also true for the opposition.  Some of the moments were nothing short of incredible.  The video brings me back but it is hard to truly feel what it was like during those moments.  One of the ways I have brought emotion into my past films was through the soundtrack.  Energy, Oh Energy has huge potential for a great soundtrack.  I have licensed 4 songs but am looking to have 15 for the final product.  I am also composing a portion of the score myself.  I have a musical background that stretches back to playing piano, accordion, and drums as a child and into my adulthood.  I have done a number of compositions for smaller projects and am excited to use some of that experience to develop the score for this film.  I have been getting a lot of emails about stories from being on the road so I have decided to make a weekly contribution to the blog that tells a story from my ride each week.  Since we have been getting quite a bit of rain here in Laramie, I thought I would share a story about rain.

After leaving the Flaming Gorge Dam, Carrie and I rode to Clay Basin.  The original plan was for this to be Carrie’s last day on the journey and to camp at the bottom of Clay Basin.  Another supporter and longtime friend, Roger Weber was going to meet us there to ride the next day.  We decided to knock some miles out that night so Carrie and I rode about half of the largest climb of the whole journey and camped there.  That night Carrie decided that she wanted to ride another 4 days of the journey rather than calling it quits the next day but she hadn’t planned on it so she was out of supplies.  The new plan was for her to go back to town when Roger was dropped off the next morning.  She would get supplies for herself and then meet us at the edge of the Red Desert that night so Roger could have a ride home.  This plan worked out fairly smoothly but what happened in between Carrie leaving and coming back is where the story gets interesting.  Roger and I rode all through the day, covering over 60 miles before we were done.  We rode everything from rough two track roads to the smooth pavement of US-191.  It had been a great day and we were starting to think about where we should call it quits.  From the night before and the quick pace that day, I was nearly 2 days ahead of schedule.  We had more energy but had run out of food.  The wind was beginning to pick up and we could see a massive storm nearing us.  Joking about chasing the storm and it missing us, Roger and I started to make “what if” plans just in case it turned our direction.  The storm had been visible for most of the day and I was starting to think we had gotten lucky when I felt a rain drop on my neck, or at least I thought it was a rain drop.  Either that or Roger was spitting.  I soon confirmed my hypothesis about the drop on my neck being rain and not spit because it was shortly followed by about 100,000 look-a-likes that were definitely rain.  We had gotten caught in the storm.  Just before the rain started, we made the decision to keep riding until Carrie returned with the vehicle to take Roger back to town.  This meant taking on a huge climb.  The rain started to fall harder and the road began to transform into something you can’t describe unless you’ve experience it.  The dirt has a high clay content and when clay gets wet, it sticks to rubber tires like glue.  We pedaled furiously up the mountain fighting the storm.  For a minute, I thought we were actually going to make it.  Looking back, I think the cold and fatigue was getting to me and I was thinking completely irrationally.   I was the first to falter.  Both of my tires locked up solid with a huge mud deposit on each wheel.  Following that, the brakes became jammed and shifting gears was a more distant thought than winning the lottery without a ticket.  I looked over to Roger and his bike had followed suit and was equally as incapacitated as mine.  We began to push and found the wheels completely locked and unable to budge.  I started to drag my bike like a piece of scrap metal.  At this point, that’s all it was.  The mud had rendered our bikes unusable.  The rain kept falling and the mud kept piling up.  I began to limp because each of my shoes had accumulated about 3lbs of mud.  I looked at Roger and in the midst of the storm said, “What do we do?!”  Roger being equally as surprised and handicapped with the mud responded, “Let’s just walk.”  I don’t know why we started walking.  We weren’t even walking up the hill anymore.  We were just walking.  It helped take our minds off the chaos that was occurring around us.  We walked without a trail or destination.  Water was running down the mountain in various informal streams that had been born in the last hour.  I was in a state between fear and not wanting to take the whole situation seriously because we were vulnerable.  After walking, we found our way back to the bikes.  The rain had slowed and we began the next task, chipping the hardening clay from our bikes to make them rideable again.  After breaking the wheels free we decided to ride back down the hill.  The downhill stretch helped loosen the mud and we were back in action.  The storm passed and in a matter of 30 minutes, you couldn’t even see that it had hit.  Carrie pulled up with my parents and brother to drop her off and pick Roger up.  Roger and I tried to explain the storm but no one seemed that impressed.  As I said goodbye, I smiled at Roger and he smiled back.  He knew how bad the storm was and so did I, and sometimes that’s all that matters.


Where am I?

Where am I?  This is a question that I have found myself asking for the last few months.  Where am I in regards to the film?  Where am I in regards to my physical location?  Where am I in regards to my understanding of energy?  This weekend I spent driving through Colorado conducting more interviews.  I was finally about to find a nuclear energy expert to discuss the issue of energy with.  Dr. Jeffrey King from the Colorado School of Mines gave us his Friday afternoon to talk about nuclear energy.  The footage is piling up and the story is slowly unfolding.  It seems the deeper I dig, the more this issue of energy unfolds.  I am now attempting to contact executives of some of the largest energy companies in the world.  This is not an easy task by any means.  I have to do it though.  These are the people that make the decisions that affect every one of us as energy consumers.  A film about energy wouldn’t be complete without the input from those who are in charge of the industry.  I am prepared to travel wherever this takes me.  I will be spending the next few weeks in the Colorado/Wyoming area and after that if things go as planned; I will be headed to the west coast.

As good as it felt to be off of my bike for a few days, this Saturday I found myself back in the saddle.  I was passing through Winter Park, Co on my way from a shoot so I decided to take a half-day and ride the mountain.  If you haven’t been to Winter Park then you definitely need to make it down there.  The downhill mountain biking they offer there is amazing.  If I had to pick a type of riding, I would say that I am a gravity biker.  This means that I would much rather spend a day at the dirt jump park or downhill course than pedaling across country.  I haven’t really had time to get any gravity riding in this summer so Winter Park was a welcomed sight.  The trails are perfect, steep, fast, and lined with jump after jump.  If only I could have incorporated downhill mountain biking into the film…

I am back in Wyoming where I will be shooting for the next week.  A common theme of this journey has been the idea of getting somewhere and turning around the next day to go somewhere else.  I know there is something big with this topic to explore.  I am confident that I’m not just a dog chasing his tail.  If you are curious about some of the photos from my journey, check regularly.  The site is updated every weekday with a new picture.  You only get one picture a day so don’t miss out!  Many of the pictures coming up will be from my ride.  You will start to see pictures from my current travels shortly.

Mark has returned to Laramie but not for long!

Hi Everyone!  I have returned to Laramie and decided to give a personal account with pictures of the last five days of my journey.  If I had to pick a few words to describe the last leg of my trip, I would say accommodating, longing for home, and inspiring.  I chose ‘accommodating’ because of an experience I had in Elk Mountain, Wy.  I rolled into town right around dinner time and was struggling to find a legal place to set up my tent for the night.  I ran into a local named Bob Johnson who offered his property for me to camp on.  I gladly accepted and the next thing I knew, I was having ice cream with him and his wife, exchanging stories all night.  The next day they made breakfast and offered me a shower.  It was a great refresher before the final 60 miles home.  As amazing as my journey was, I found myself longing for home.  The last week was more of a mind game than a physical feat.  I had gotten in pretty decent shape throughout the trip so the final week didn’t feel physically strenuous at all.  I just wanted to make it home.  The last 6 miles were the longest because I could see Laramie for so long but it didn’t feel like it was getting any closer.  As for exciting stories of trials and triumphs, the last week seemed rather dull in comparison to the rest of the journey.  The roads and terrain were much tamer and the towns were closer together.  It was a comforting thought to know the worst was behind me.  The tail wind was also a welcomed feeling.  I found myself reflecting on the entire trip as I road into town.  I thought about the 2nd day when I ran out of water and wanted to quit more than anything else.  I thought of all of the people who rode a few miles of the journey with me because they believed in both the film and me.  I thought of the star filled nights, rainy days, and cool mornings packing up camp.  It was all finally coming to an end.  But was this really the end?  The more I thought about the film and the journey, the more I realized that this was just the beginning.  I had scratched the surface of something huge and I couldn’t just call it quits when I got home.

I was greeted by my family and friends with a warm welcome home.  We enjoyed some cake and exchanged stories about the past month.  This is when I truly realized that the story doesn’t end here.  It’s more like a halfway point and I’m just gathering myself before hitting the road again.  This time I will be taking my car because the distances between locations have grown and my time is running out.  I am going to further pursue the question of “What is the best energy?”  This time I am breaking the boundary of only interviewing people within biking distance.  I am setting out to wherever the path leads.  If I have to drive, I will.  If I have to fly, I will.  The question about energy is only halfway answered and I don’t have enough information to tell you what the best energy is yet.  This is why I’m continuing the journey.  I am grateful for everyone’s support and interest.  I hope that you continue to follow me as I pursue this undying question.  Where it will take me next, I cannot say but wherever it is, I am willing to go.  The cameras have been cleaned and my bags are repacked.  Keep checking back to see where this question takes me.  Feel free to contact me with any interest in the film.  It felt good to be home for a few days but I can’t rest until I find the answers to my questions.

520 miles down

After weeks of harsh days on the road, Mark has hit 520 miles. He is currently in Rawlins, Wyoming ready to power through the remaining miles to reach Laramie. During the past few days, Mark had the company of Carrie while crossing the Red Desert. Carrie put on her brave face and pedaling shoes and stuck with Mark as long as she could, but at last she had to depart. On Sunday morning, Carrie left the journey to attend a prior commitment in California. Carrie said that she was very sad to leave because she really wanted to finish the ride to Laramie. The feeling was certainly mutual for Mark: “It was great riding with her and I will really miss having a companion on the road.”

After saying goodbye to Carrie, Mark rode 55 miles, with about 17 along the dreaded Interstate 80. “I had been really afraid of the interstate until today… But turns out, it was great! It was much easier than riding on dirt through the desert and mountains. On trails and dirt roads you get rattled to the core, and you can’t keep your momentum. On I-80 I felt like I was flying! But at the same time it was definitely pretty dangerous. Every time a semi screamed by I got hit with a huge blast of wind, and that happened about every twenty or thirty seconds. I also watched a semi and a few cars hit this shredded tire-tred and it almost got flung straight at me! But that stuff aside, it was so easy to make time that I actually got a day ahead of schedule,”

With the extra time, Mark is taking a detour through the Snowy Range. The detour will add 3000 feet of climbing and 40 miles distance. “It will be one awful day of uphill then two great days of downhill.  And with all that done I will be sure to hit my 700 mile mark.” Mark said, proudly. Mark is now 5 days from Laramie on the new route, but he admits: “As fun as the journey is, I miss the luxury of home and am counting the days to the finish line. In the meantime, I’ll just keep riding.”

The adventure is starting to come to and end, but the stories are piling up, footage is taking up disk space, and more ideas for film are unfolding. So, even though Mark’s journey is coming to an end, you still have something great to look forward to: the upcoming film Energy, Oh Energy. Until now you have been just reading and imagining Mark’s adventure, but soon enough, you will get to see the actual footage. In the meantime, stay tuned for more updates.


First day crossing the Red Desert

We are back with more updates from Mark on the road (or trail).  Thursday was an extremely hard day for Mark.  Carrie went back to Rock Springs to get more supplies for herself and Roger Weber came out to ride with Mark for the day.  They rode from clay basin to Kinney rim, which Mark said was about 62 miles of constant up and down. Roger’s company made the day a little more pleasant for Mark, helping distract him from his exhaustion.  He said that it has been really nice having company because loneliness of the ride can be one of the hardest parts.  “I have been lucky to have so many people who wanted to ride to me,” he admitted.

Roger and Mark are longtime friends who have traveled the world together in the past.   They spent the day catching up and exploring new territories.   Mark said, “These last few days I have been riding terrain which I’ve never been to.  It’s been great seeing so much amazing landscape.   It’s completely different seeing this country from a ride, rather than a car, or even a plane.  You actually have time to look at everything and take it in.  I am getting used to life on the road and I actually think it is going to be hard to adjust to my normal life when I return to Laramie in a little over a week.”

Late Thursday evening Roger and Mark were caught in a huge rain storm, which took them completely by surprise. He said, “We were really caught off guard and couldn’t find shelter. We tried to keep riding but the soil in the area is entirely clay, and the mud stuck to our bikes so badly that both tires were unable to move.  The bikes became incapacitate caked in the clay mud.  We laid our bikes in a ditch and set out into the sage brush in an attempt to find some shelter to stay warm.  We never found shelter but the storm eventually passed.” After the rain stopped, Mark and Roger scraped the mud from their bikes and continued to ride.   Carrie met them shortly afterwards and Roger went on his way.

All in all, their first days through the Red Desert have gone pretty well. Mark reported, “On the first day crossing the Red Desert we were fortunate enough to have a slight tailwind. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky or single shade tree out here so the breeze was nice.” However, there are more days in the desert to come, and they might not be as pleasant. Mark and Carrie were aiming to cross the Red Desert by Sunday.

The miles are slowly shrinking and Mark is very excited to reach the end of this journey. “Spirits are high, supplies are good, and the bikes are holding up,” he said, happily. As the adventure continues check back for more blog updates.

Mark and Carrie about to cross the Red Desert

We are back with some more updates. After long and exhausting days and night on the road, Mark and Carrie spent Tuesday doing laundry at the lake and relaxing to prepare for the hardest part of the journey. Carrie has decided to go along with Mark through the toughest part of his journey. In all, she will be riding over 160 miles with Mark.

At 9:00 am on Wednesday, Mark recorded an interview at Flaming Gorge dam with a hydroelectric energy expert. Following that, Mark and Carrie rode north on highway 191 towards Mini’s Gap.   According to Mark, “This is where the hardest part of the journey will begin.  The climb will last all day. It has been nice the last few days, enjoying the shade, but that is all about to change as soon as we get to the Red Desert.  The scenery and sunset have been amazing but they came with a price, because the last few days have been extremely hilly. I have been very tired and sleepy many nights long before dark.  I am looking forward to getting back towards the central part of the state where there aren’t as many mountains.”

Keep showing your support by following our blog as Mark heads on to the roughest part of his journey.



Another day on the Road

After the first few days on the road, Mark learned a lesson or two about road trips through the desert, especially road trips without the assistance of a support crew. However, thanks to his training, preparation, and old fashioned will power, he has managed to get himself through the unforeseen challenges that awaited him in just the first part of his journey. We are happy to report that Mark is back on the road after the trials and tribulations we reported in our last blog. Mark has now travelled over 280 miles and has successfully arrived at Flaming Gorge Dam! There, he will meet with experts in hydroelectric energy and get a tour of the facility. Mark told us he is extremely excited to see the generators in action.  They should be working at full capacity because of the incredible amount of spring runoff stored up in Flaming Gorge.

But this ride isn’t all work and no play. Mark passed through his home town of Rock Springs, Wyoming on Saturday where he got to ride in a town parade. He had planned a ride along event before he left and was greeted by a throng of supporters and friends. Mark recalls, “We rode about 28 miles from Rock Springs to the Big Firehole boat ramp where we all had dinner before everyone departed. It was great to see everyone after so many miles on the road.”

Carrie McCarthy, our energy researcher and Mark’s girlfriend has been riding with Mark since he passed through Rock Springs. She has ridden almost 80 miles, but she is getting a little weary about staying with Mark as he crosses the Red Desert on Thursday.  This ride has been extremely tough for Mark and Carrie just hasn’t had the same amount of training that he has. Furthermore, she isn’t quite used to the schedule of life on the road. The pair have been riding early in the morning and late into the night to avoid the sun and heat during the day. Mark says, “Last night we were still pushing on the trail at 11:00 p.m.  The hills have been massive the last few days. It’s like a roller coaster; up and down, up and down.  I am starting to feel pretty weak and tired.”

The help and support continues for Mark as he makes his way through the countryside, though. Mark and Carrie spent Sunday at Current Creek Ranch and Mark said that ranchers, Tyson and Mimi were very accommodating. “At the ranch, Carrie and I came across the first patch of shade we’d seen in two days and both immediately laid down for a three hour nap.” Mark fondly reported. Jason Meddler surprised Mark and Carrie with a bike tune-up, and Mark’s father, Gary Pedri, rode 18 miles with them on Sunday night.

The past eight days on the road had been very hard for Mark, “I have a long way to go and right now all I can think of is sleeping. It’s been hard.” But he will certainly not surrender to the difficulty, the story is too important. There’s more adventure to come as Mark crosses the Wyoming Red Desert, so keep checking back for more updates.