All posts for the day August 2nd, 2014

Some reading for a rainy day

Ok time for some reflections on my trip:

-probably the biggest surprise of this journey was how little time I had to rest. What I mean is, last summer when I did my test solo trip from NY to Canada, I would bike 70 miles and get into the campsite around 3. Then I would be done for the day and I would be bored. Time to read and relax. This year I biked a significantly longer day and farther distances, and since I had people to stay with many nights, there really wasn’t much down time. Plus, every night I had the blog to write and a lot of prep work for following day. So where I was expecting to sit back to read and relax…that didn’t happen.

-speaking of the blog, it added a whole different dimension to this trip. First, it occupied many of my thoughts during the day. It was a great distraction while I rode, planning what I would write that evening. Of course I would forget most of my ideas by the end of the day. Second, knowing so many people were reading the blog gave me motivation not to quit. Third, the hour or two it took me each night to complete the blog was a great time killer. Lastly, I never felt like I was off the grid. I was almost always hearing from, or communicating to someone, as a result of the blog. Totally different experience than what I was expecting.

-I expected the trip to be about seeing the country side. But meeting all the people became the highlight for me. Whether it was the families that hosted me or the random people I met along the way, this is what added the color to my adventure.

-the weather was amazing. I only had two days where it rained the whole time. There were only a few days with some sprinkles. And there were only a few really hot days in the upper 90s. I really lucked out on the weather, including finishing on Friday instead of today. So glad I didn’t have to finish in this weather or have a beach party scheduled for today.

-people keep asking what part of the country I liked the best. It is hard to say. The Pacific Northwest has amazing MTns and rivers. The heart of Montana was spectacular for the vastness of nothing. Then I found The badlands in South Dakota beautiful. The cornfields of Iowa were colorful and interesting to learn about. Nothing too interesting in IL, IN and OH. And the vistas in PA were a pleasant surprise. But seeing Mt Rushmore and Field of Dreams were high points.

-I expected to see many other cyclists along the way. When planning the trip many people said I would run into people going xcountry, and that I would probably have company for part of the journey. During the first two weeks, when I was on the Northern Tier route, I passed the older couple on their tandem, passed Big Al twice, and I passed a young couple on the day I cycled 175 miles. But once I left that route, I never saw another distance cyclist going East. However, this is probably for the best. I doubt I would have found someone that would want to do my route, at my pace, staying at the places I wanted to stay. Plus, You are a lot more approachable to strangers when you are by yourself. And you are more motivated to initiate conversations with strangers when you are alone.

-An interesting thing about biking up and down hills……sometimes you don’t know if you are going up or down a hill. There are optical illusions with the way the roads are cut into mountains that when you look at the sedimentary lines in the rock you are biking thru, it might be the opposite of the direction of the road. And also a lot of times when you are looking ahead, you mentally note that the road is going up or down over this particular stretch, but at that moment, the road is doing the opposite. That is why my GARMIN devise was so helpful in displaying the incline %.

Motorcyclists were extremely friendly. Many gave me the motorcyclist’s wave as we passed. And many gave me encouragement when they saw me climbing a hill.

Most truckers drove clear of me. But I was surprised how many came close to me. I hate to admit it, but this was a lot more dangerous than I expected. I had a lot more close calls than I care to think about. I heard of one cyclist death a week ahead of me in Montana. And I heard of many other random cyclist accidents along the way. Don’t know why people felt the need to tell me these stories when I was with them. Did they realize what I was doing the next day?

Bike stores were a huge help. They always made me a priority. I was fortunate never to have serious problems that prevented me from biking a few hundred miles to the next shop. The funny part is that every technician thinks the previous one made mistakes. They always want to correct something.

I had lost 10 lbs from training and according to a scale in Philly, I lost another 10 on this trip. Anyone know a good tailor?

My favorite night was camping out at the abandon ski school at the top of the mtn. It was just so random. And to have their wifi on was too funny.

My low points were a) when I was having continual problems with front tire b) when my knees were bothering me c) when I headed due south off the highline and had the wind hitting me hard from the west. It was scary getting blown into the traffic lane d) anytime I was riding with no shoulder

My favorite picture was of the prairie dogs study. I passed the sign on a downhill and it took me a few seconds to start laughing but then it was too late. Further down the hill the same sign was posted and I grabbed that picture.

I made a lot of inside jokes in my blog that I will never know how many people understood the references. But who cares. I laughed, and this trip was all about me!

I raised over $4,000 for Habitat for Humanity. If you enjoyed my blogs, please click on the donate button and make a donation. You know the internet isn’t free!

Will I do this again? I don’t expect to do another cross United States solo bike trip. But life is short and I hope to have the opportunity to do more adventures in the future. And you should too.

Uncle Mike also made it to my finish. Three more pics from yesterday.