Rudy Schnabel didn't sit in a rocking chair on his front porch in Tempe and watch the world go by after he retired from the University of Arizona Extension Service. In fact, the world sits on its front porch and watches Rudy and his bicycling friends go bicycling by. Rudy has just returned from a bicycling tour which took him from Portland, Ore. to Williamsburg, Va. in three months.
The group started with 13 riders who had signed up with Adventure Cycling. Five riders, including Rudy, finished the 4,600 mile trip.
The group first went to Cape Lookout, Oregon to dip their tires in the Pacific Ocean, and at the finish of the trip they went to Yorktown and dipped their tires in a river that flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
Rudy will be riding in the MS 150 again this year, the annual bike-a-thon which raises money for multiple sclerosis. Thousands of riders will take part in this ride from Phoenix to Parker Dam Nov. 4 and 5. Each rider has to raise at least $200 in donations to enter.
Not only does Rudy like to bike, but he is a downhill skier, and would like to do some cross-country skiing. He recently rafted the length of the Grand Canyon with a group from the Phoenix Ski Club. He is a frequent visitor to the Payson area and has ridden his bike around much of Arizona and New Mexico, often taking part in biking events there.
Before retiring, Rudy worked in community and economic development in Arizona with the University of Arizona Extension Service. He has a Bachelor of Science in history and economics, a masters in agricultural economics from the University of Connecticut, and a Bachelor of Divinity from the Hartford Theological Seminary. In the latter connection, he spent five years in India ministering to the people and also worked with the International Farm Youth Exchange.
Rudy has two sons who live in Virginia and Missouri, and a daughter who lives in Rhode Island.
Why did Rudy decide to ride across the country on his bicycle carrying 50 pounds of gear, and with no support vehicles to carry supplies?
"It was for a number of reasons," he said. "I had done some touring and I had set a goal of riding across the country. It was a challenge and an adventure, plus a chance to meet new people and make new friends. In addition I did not want to sit at home when I retired."
During the three months the group was on the road, they met many people across the country and kept in touch with friends at home by phone, e-mail, and by picking up mail at scheduled mail stops.
"People across the country were great," he said. "They took us in if it was stormy, they gave us fresh produce from their gardens, and the most memorable was the 'cookie lady' on one of our last stops. She has a large home and it is a rest stop for cross-country bikers. She fed us and of course we had cookies."
The group shopped for groceries, and they took turns cooking, They purchased what they needed each day after the day's ride, which sometimes was as far as 80 miles.
"We needed foods that would give us energy and would also be nutritious," Rudy recalled. "But sometimes we had to be creative and use what we could find in the small town markets."
"Cook simple, but cook well" is Rudy's motto. Rudy says breakfast and lunch were quick and easy. They usually started the day with oatmeal with raisins, juice and coffee. Each rider fixed his or her own sandwiches or snacks for lunch. Sometimes they would stop at a small cafe later in the morning to eat with the "locals" and swap stories as they downed pancakes with sausage or bacon. They all looked forward to the evening meal, which was prepared with only one or two pans.
"We ate spaghetti a lot and pasta with vegetables, and there would usually be some meat on the side. There were vegetarians in the group so that made it even more of a challenge to make sure we ate well," Rudy recalled. One of the dishes he cooked on the road was adapted from recipes brought back from the Camp Verde Islands off the coast of Africa, where he visited on one of his travels abroad. He also learned how to add spices to different foods, on his trips to India.
"I don't know what to call my concoction," he says, "but it is very nutritious and simple to make. Maybe you could just call it 'Rudy's Stew'."
In the pasta salads they used fresh or frozen vegetables, such as broccoli, peppers, onions, and carrots, topped with their favorite dressing such as wine vinaigrette. A tossed salad of greens could be made in a pot or a plastic bag. Spaghetti sauces often included many kinds of vegetables or meats. He has even used canned salmon in the sauce. He advises you to be creative. Fruit salad was another favorite of the group. They combined cantaloupe, grapes, plums, peaches, bananas and kiwi fruit, with raisins sprinkled on top. He says they added other fruit in season.
Would Rudy do it again, he was asked? He replied, "I might. It was both difficult and exhilarating. But I would like to make some rides in other parts of the world, too."
Anyone making Rudy's Stew can adapt to the size of their family.
In a large pot combine the following:
Pinto beans or kidney beans, cooked (canned beans are O.K.)
Enough water to cook the rice.
When the rice is nearly done, add the beans and the following:
Bok Choy cabbage leaves, torn up
Kale (if available) or spinach or Swiss chard, torn up
Clove of garlic
Spices, such as oregano, cumin and basil
Rudy advises to taste a lot to see if there is enough seasoning and to experiment with other vegetables. Also onion or cream of mushroom soup add flavor and texture. Cook until vegetables are done, but not overcooked.