Cycle Route 66 Blog

David Goldman's Route 66 cycling journey

It’s been too long

I know it’s been way too long since I’ve posted any updates on my ride plans and I apologize. Unfortunately, right now things are a bit up in the air. My goal was to raise awareness about the success of organ transplantation and the need to donate, as well as to raise funds to fight diabetes. In order to accomplish these goals I need to raise funds. This has been the sticking point.

I took to crowd sourcing to defray my expenses and to raise money that would be donated to the American Diabetes Association. My fundraising has gone pretty well thanks to many of you.

I also sought support from the large corporations whose business is diabetes and transplantation. But they only donate to non-profit or 401(c3 organization, and while I’m donating all the net proceeds of my fundraising to the American Diabetes Association, I am not a non-profit organization.

I want to show that a mostly blind 60 year old who spent most all of his first 40 years living with and fighting diabetes can still pedal his way from the Pacific Ocean back to his home in Chicago.

I want to show that this person, who has had three organ transplants and must take a daily handful of powerful drugs to maintain those transplants can do so on such a long trip.

I want to prove to myself that even with those factors, a serious bout with cancer, and so many surgeries and hospitalizations that I can no longer remember them all, I can still overcome the physical and psychological obstacles that a ride like this would present.

I want to show that while diabetes may be the identity for millions of people, it doesn’t have to control your life – certainly not one’s happiness.

Finally, I want to help the American Diabetes Association’s efforts to find a cure for diabetes; a cure I honestly believe is around the corner. Then, tens of millions of Americans and millions more worldwide won’t have to deal with diabetes’ side effects that range from bad at best, to deadly at worst.

So here’s the new plan: This year, I intend to ride Route 66 from Santa Monica, CA to Gallup or possibly Albuquerque, NM. This is a ride will be about 750 miles and I will be doing it in the fall rather than the spring. This way I can get in a good amount of riding before embarking on this ride. Then next year, or possibly in the next two years, I will do the remainder of the ride.

However, I still need your support. More people spreading the word means more money raised to fight and end diabetes. Please support me if you can. If you already have, thank you so much! I’m also asking everyone to please promote and share this post, my website, and my social media.

One final note, thank you to Lisa and Jaime for all their time and energy in making this new video!

Thanks you all and Pedal Forward!

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I may not see (much), but I can still drive!

Diabetes has given me a lot over the year: blood sugars too low to read followed 30 minutes later by levels too high to read, kidney failure, and painful and/or numb hands and fingers. One of the mementos it has given me is vision loss. I am completely blind in one eye and in the other eye I have almost no peripheral vision. That, to go along with many blind spots throughout the remaining field of vision due to scarring on my retina. But, don’t be deceived. Even with very limited daytime vision and virtually no night vision at all, I am a man with a valid Illinois driver’s license!

Yep, that’s right. The Great State of Illinois has determined that it’s fit and proper for me to operate a motor vehicle on the open road. Before you vow to stay off the roads for fear I may be out there cruising, let me assure you; I do not drive. I haven’t for many years. Because even though the state says I can drive, I know I can’t.

Right now you may be thinking to yourself, self, how did this guy get a driver’s license when he can’t see? Allow me to explain.

The last time I was called in to renew my license I was told that in order to obtain a license, I must take and pass a vision test. I was fully prepared to accept a state ID as a consolation prize after failing said test. However, a funny thing happened. When my turn came the man behind the counter asked me the usual name, address, and date of birth questions. Then he asked me if I’d like to be an organ donor should anything “happen”. I said I would andyes, transplant recipients can register as organ donors. I told him I was glad he asked because I was a transplant recipient. He brightened up a bit and went on to tell me that his brother-in-law needed a kidney transplant but unfortunately, never received one and he died. We discussed this and organ donation for a couple of minutes and after our little chat, we apparently were buddies, having bonded over this topic.

“Okay, step over here. You have to take the vision test. You know how this works, right? You bend down, look in the machine and tell me if the light is flashing on the left or right,” he told me.

“Yes, I know how it works, but I’m blind in my right eye and don’t see very well out of the left,” I said while thinking about the shiny new state ID card I’d soon be receiving.

“Well, let’s give it a try anyhow,” he said. “Bend down and I’ll ask you which side is flashing.”

Not wanting to throw him off his routine, I obliged.

“Okay, is it flashing on the right or the left?” he asked.

“I can’t say. I don’t see it,” I replied.

“Well it’s flashing on one side or the other. Just ell me which side is flashing.”

Now I was getting a little ticked. “I know how it works. I literally cannot see any flashing light.”

“Okay, move your head back and stand up straight,” he directed me.

Now, I was standing up looking at the machine a couple of feet away and he pushed the trigger to start the light flashing. “Do you see the flashing light now?” he asked.

“Yes, but I … “

“Good! Step over here and they’ll take your picture for your new license!”

I left the facility with my new license. I was baffled, amused, but mostly scared.

The time before that was different. I flat out failed the eye test that time. The man who gave me the test said he could not give me a driver’s license. I told him I understood and it was fine, I didn’t expect to get one and a state ID wouldn’t be a problem. “Good,” he said. “Just have a seat over there and they’ll take your picture for an ID.”

I sat as instructed, got up when called and had my picture taken. I sat back down again and waited.

About ten minutes later I heard someone call, “Goldman? David?” I stood up, walked over, and was handed a new Illinois driver’s license. I shrugged and walked out.

Why am I bringing this up? Because the other day I received a letter telling me it was that time again. I had to renew my license. The letter said there would be a fee and an eye test.

Now, I could simply walk in and say I don’t need or want a driver’s license.. I would just like a state ID. But what fun is that? I want to see what happens. Will I go three for three? Will the state find some way, accidentally or purposefully to grant me a driver’s license?

So if you were to bet, what would it be? When I go for my license renewal will I come out with a new license or a state ID?

Stay tuned, and PedalForward!

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So, Why a Trike?

Like most other trike riders out there, quite often I  get stopped and asked questions about my trike.

“What kind of bike is that?”

“Is that that thing motorized?”

“My wife has a bad hip. Would riding one of those be good for her?”

My answers to these questions are as follows:

“It’s a recumbent trike. It’s kind of like riding a La-Z-Boy”

“No, but you can get them with a motor and pedals.”

“Don’t know. Much to my mother’s disappointment, I never made it to med school..”

So how did I end up riding this “thing,” a recumbent trike?

In 2013 during my Summer o’ Surgeries™, a good friend (we’ll call him Billman to hide his true identity) asked me if I planned on trying to get back into any kind of regular exercising. I told him I really wanted to start riding a bike again but because of diabetic neuropathy in my hands, and other comfort issues, I wanted to ride a recumbent – a bike with a comfy seat and a riding position that takes the strain off the shoulders, back and hands. He asked me where they sold them and I told him about a nearby shop that only sells recumbents, Amling’s Cycle.

About a week later Billman called again and asked if I wanted to go out to dinner. I said sure, and off we went. During dinner he surprised me with a gift card from Amling’s. FOR A BIKE! I was stunned. And thrilled! He told me he spent quite a bit of time in the shop talking to the salesman and a key thing he came away with was that there was a definite learning curve to riding a recumbent bike, and no matter how much experience you may have on a standard two-wheeler, this was different..
Coincidentally, I had been talking to an old high school buddy about recumbents. He had always been, and still is, a cyclist. When I mentioned a recumbent he said, “look iamlings_logonto a tadpole trike.” I asked him what that was and he told me it was a recumbent, but with three wheels – two in front and one in back. He said they’re great. Easy and fun to ride, no worrying about falling, and comfortable. I started researching them and it definitely was something that appealed to me.

So about a week before my heart surgery, the third and final surgery of the summer, I went to the shop with my wife. I asked for the same salesman Billman had spoken to. He knew who I was bcause people don’t often come into the shop and purchase gift cards good for any bike. I told him I was just getting back into riding and was interested in a recumbent. I told him I was leaning toward a trike based on what friend’s had said and what I had read, but I’d like to hear what he had to say about a two-wheeler and maybe ride one. He said, “Well, there’s a definite learning curve with a two-wheel recumbent. And, you’re going to fall at least once. Everyone does.”

Within a nanosecond Debbie (my wife) said, “No way you’re getting one.” Of course, being a guy, my first reaction was to immediately try to logically prove why she was wrong. But almost as quickly I found myself thinking, two and a half years of dialysis, a kidney transplant a few weeks ago, 150 mile ambulance ride for emergency bowel obstruction surgery just after the transplant, heart surgery next week, blind in one eye, don’t see so well out of the other … okay, maybe there’s a slim possibility she’s right. I said fine, no two-wheeler and asked if I could test ride some trikes.

The first couple I rode felt good and they were fun, but I wasn’t sure. Then I rode an ICE trike. Bill, the salesman, ICE_logotold me that ICE was a British company and they made great trikes. From the test rides I had already done, I was narrowing my selection down when I rode an ICE Sprint 26. I rode around the streets near the shop for a while and LOVED it! I could tell it handled better and was more stable than the other trikes I had ridden so far. And it seemed to fit me better. Plus, it folded for easy transport.

me new trike

Me, test riding.

Before making my final decision I tried a couple others and then tried them all again.

And again.

The ICE was definitely it. It felt right. It felt like we’d be riding a lot of miles together.

We went inside, configured everything, and placed the order. As I mentioned earlier, ICE, which stands for Inspired Cycle Engineering, is located in England so I had to leave and wait for Amling’s to call me when the trike arrived.

Exactly one week later I went into the hospital for my surgery. I think my first call to Amling’s to check on my trike’s arrival was while I was still in ICU with a drainage tube sticking out of my chest. It hadn’t arrived. This was probably a good thing.

A couple of weeks later Amling’s called to tell me the trike had arrived and was ready for pickup. I got clearance from the doctors, called my friend Brent to see if he could drive me over to pick it up, and back to Amling’s we went.  I got it home, put on shorts and a tee shirt, and was ready for my first ride. It was August 18, 2013 .

That first ride was great and I learned two very important lessons. One, I was very out of shape. I rode just over a trike newmile and was beat. Second, when you ride a trike with baggy gym shorts and boxers, they both tend to ride up very high on your thighs as you pedal, thus exposing one’s self to the world. Mental note: find alternative to boxers and gym shorts while riding.

Those two things aside, I loved riding and I couldn’t wait to ride it the next day and the day after that. As I’m writing this on July 20, 2015, almost exactly a month shy of two years since I took that first one mile ride, I’ve ridden 4,714 miles and of course, am planning my Route 66 ride.

And that, ladies and gents, is how I came to be a trike rider.


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Going Live!

Today was the day I’d been anticipating for several months. My official “Cycle Route 66 announcement” to most of my friends, family and even strangers happened. While it is certainly didn’t burn down the interwebs, I think it went pretty well. I ended up spending most of my day replying to emails, phone calls, Facebook posts, and other communications regarding my upcoming ride and mission.

I think one of the most gratifying things was the amount of support I received from complete strangers – people from various online cycling groups and other affiliations of mine that saw my post and shared that post and sent me words of encouragement. And while I didn’t raise a ton of money to fund the campaign and make one or more charitable donations, I did receive donations from complete strangers and that was gratifying. In a note accompanying one donation, a woman told me her daughter was a diabetic and that she had been a diabetic for 22 of her 26 years. She thanked me for sharing my journey. Those are the people I want to reach. I want people to know and to see through this ride – a ride I know will be a physical and psychological challenge, life is still a joyous time and not a moment should be lost. Yeah, I’m blind in one eye and don’t see so well out of the other. True, I’m carrying around a few extra internal organs, some working, some not. And to keep those extra organs working I have to take drugs that have the side effect of making my body Mecca For Diseases. But hell, I’m doing a bike ride not many people can do or would even attempt. Plus with advances in medicine and medical technology things are literally getting better for patients of all types every day.

More than enough reason to Pedal Forward!

Pertinent links:

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GoFundMe it is!

gofundme_logoSo, after researching it to death and then some, I basically flipped a coin and decided on GofFundMe as my crowdsourcing platform. My first instinct was Kickstarter, probably because that’s the one I heard of most often. But their emphasis is “projects”, and they’re very specific: movies, books, new products for the market, etc. GofFundMe is used more for personal funding. That’s me! Their categories range from medical, education and sports to animals, national news (not quite sure what that one’s about) and newlyweds. So the fundraising campaigns on it are all over the place.

I read all of their about-us material, FAQs, went over how much of a slice they take from what I am able to raise and signed up.

Most of it is very straightforward. Pick a category, pick a goal amount, give some personal details, and you’re set. For your page you can choose either a picture or video and I opted for a video. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do. Pretty simple really. I wanted footage of me riding with regular text overlaying the video that describes my history and why I want to do this ride.

One of the hardest things was deciding on the background music. First, I went to Soundcloud. When I made my David Needs a Kidney video, I used music that my friend Roberta’s son Ian had written and posted there. So I checked his music and many other tracks looking for something that seemed to match the thoughts and emotions I was trying to convey.

Easier said than done.

I listened to track after track. Somewhere along the line while on Soundcloud, I came across Audiojungle, another repository of songs that are available for downloading and usage for a very small fee.

After narrowing it down to a few, I finally made my selection. Good, that’s done!

Now for the video itself.

During a late afternoon on a clear day with a brilliant blue sky I went out with the GoPro and shot some footage. The next day and a half I edited it, added the music, and the text. It went much more smoothly than I anticipated. I showed it to my wife, Debbie and she really liked it and fortunately for me, I have a friend/cousin who’s a writer. I sent it to her and she too liked it a lot and suggested a few minor edits to the text, and the video was done.

I linked it to my GoFundMe page and that was that!

And it goes without saying that if you’d like to help me along on this journey, simply click here.

Keep pedaling forward!

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Cycling Route 66 – Getting it Off the Ground

For a few weeks now I’ve been grappling with the many tentacles of this project/adventure/behemoth (take your pick). I’m trying to get a grasp on the route, funding, timing, budget, supplies, and more.

On the positive side, I feel like this is the storm before the calm. Once I have all of these things sorted out, things will become a lot clearer and I’ll be able to concentrate on the ride itself.

But first things first. If I’m not able to pay for this, I can’t do it, so that’s currently problem number one.


Funding my Route 66 bike rideMy goal here is twofold. One, I want to raise awareness for organ donation – to show that lives can be saved or improved for so many people. I also want to show that even though diabetes can be an extremely destructive disease, a long, happy and fulfilling life is not only possible, but quite attainable.

Ironically, a lifetime with medical challenges is preventing me from moving forward, but not because of physical challenges. My initial budget for this instantly showed me that paying for it myself would be impossible. Even though I’ve been fortunate to have good health insurance my whole life there are always substantial medical expenses that are my responsibility. Those expenses have to come first. Thus, I don’t have a personal fortune let alone what’s needed for me to afford this.

This means some sort(s) of funding and/or sponsorship. My first thought was to ask corporations to sponsor me, particularly those that make anti-rejection drugs. These are the drugs that make organ transplantation a reality. And I am reaching out to them. However, what I’m learning is that most corporations give only to non-profits. Can I become a non-profit? Possibly. But becoming a non-profit takes time, stacks of paperwork to file, and more money.

Two of those three make this impractical. So on to the next option:

Crowdsourcing. For those who aren’t familiar with it, crowdsourcing is a way of asking the general public for Crowdsourcing for fundingfinancial help with a project. There are many crowdsourcing options out there including, Kickstarter, GoFundMe, Indiegogo and several others. Each tries to fill a specific niche. Right now, I’m researching these options to see which one best suits what I’m trying to accomplish. Then, once I decide, I have to mount a campaign for it. Getting it in front of as many people as possible is obviously going to make it work better.

So much for part one of this puzzle.

In the meantime, I’m pedaling forward.

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How did this happen?


Early this year, near the beginning of February as I recall, I saw an item on my Facebook newsfeed. It was a call to action from the Adventure Cycling Association and they were trying to get a segment of California roadway approved for bicycle use. If this measure was passed, Route 66 from Chicago to LA would be a bike route – all 2,448 miles of it. As a cyclist it

seemed like a great idea even though my bike touring experience was limited to two, one-week, 500-mile rides through New England. But, I did as they asked. I sent emails, signed a petition, and promptly forgot about the whole thing.

Then in March, another Adventure Cycling post caught my eye. The official Route 66 bicycle maps were being printed and sold through their organization. I clicked the link and read the page. I have to do this ride, I thought to myself. That was it. I was hooked. Riding Route 66 by bike, or recumbent trike in my case, was not only on my bucket list, it was printed in all caps and bolded. If I wasn’t color blind it would have been bright red too. I read everything I could find on the Adventure Cycling site and then other sites. Suddenly, it was all I could think about. Thinking about doing this ride literally kept me awake at night.

Why did it appeal so strongly to me? It’s hard for me to put it into words, but I saw this ride as an analogy to my life. I knew there would be major hurdles to overcome on this ride; physical, psychological and emotional ones. My short experiences riding in the mountains of New England taught me that about bike touring. My life has been the same way. Everything is going along smoothly and seemingly without warning I find out my kidneys are failing, I have cancer, or one of many other surprises I’ve had in my life (more on all that in a later post). But whether it’s riding a bike 100 miles through a rainstorm or learning to cope with most of your vision gone or impaired, when you come out the other side it makes the easier times seem that much sweeter.

The other thing is Route 66 has such a rich history and the nostalgia associated with it is still embedded up and down that road. So yes, while there are lots of great bike touring options, Route 66 was on my “must do” list.

In the meantime, I’m pedaling forward.

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