MAA – Epilogue – Reflections on a Month of Cycling Across America

 

 

Hi again – I get to relax in the RV on the way back to California, so I am taking some time to reflect on my month of cycling across our great country. I hope you had fun tagging along and getting a glimpse into what it was like. The following are some retrospective thoughts about the experience.

TRIP STATS

  • Start – Finish: San Francisco, California to Plymouth, Massachusetts
  • Days Riding – 32.5 plus prologue
  • Rest days – 0
  • Miles – 3569IMG_5704
  • Most miles in one day – 146.5 (Austin, NV to Ely, NV)
  • Feet climbed – 102,450
  • Highest point – 8062 feet (Colorado)
  • Most feet elevation gained in one day – 8288IMG_4236
  • Number of states touched – 16
    • CA, NV, UT, WY, CO, NE, IA, IL, IN, MI, OH, PA, NY, MA, CT, RI (ended back in MA)IMG_5837
  • Dogs giving chase – 36
    • Dog deterrent air horn used – 4xIMG_5428
  • Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) Comfort Dogs met – 12
    • Aaron (send off from home), Cubby, Moses, Eddie, Joy, Katie, Gracie, Shami (early morning send off in Illinois), Barnabas, Anna, Lydia, Obadiah – And they are all looking out for us on the way home!IMG_5827
  • Mechanical Issues – SAG Actual got really good at fixing/maintain things!
    • Flat Tires – 5 (I had one the day before the last ride – slow leak found at camp)
    • Brake pads replaced – 1 set
    • Rearview mirror replaced – 1
    • Chain dirt and grime cleaned – dailyIMG_5306
  • Times caught in rain – 3
  • Highest temperature on road – 104.6 degrees (according to Garmin)
  • Weight lost – 12 lbs.

OBSERVATIONS/LEARNINGS

  • I have a GREAT SAG Team!DSC01816
  • The sweet spot for riding is between 6 and 10 am.DSC01655
  • I don’t like riding in the wind (especially head wind)!
  • I don’t like rumble strips!IMG_4364
  • I am directionally challenged.
  • Biggest Surprise – that I liked Nebraska
  • I have the best supportive friends ever!IMG_5834IMG_5836
  • Best ride – day 15 – Gothenburg to Grand Island, NE – nice smooth road, flat, slight tail wind, moderate temperature (100 miles in under 6 hours).DSC01407
  • Hardest ride – day 12 –  Fort Collins, CO to Sterling, CO (103 miles) – lots of wind!
  • Prettiest scenery – California for awe inspiring, dramatic views and New York for absolute, serene beauty.IMG_4298DSC01738
  • Best barns – IowaDSC01552
  • Friendliest state – Nebraska
  • Best RV Park – Streetsboro, OH KOA (and then Dayton Ohio KOA after the ride)
  • Best bike path – Des Moines, IA
  • Best road – Route 6 in IL from Marseilles to Joliet
  • Worst road – Service and frontage road along Union Pacific Railway West DSC01174Wendover, NV to Salt Lake City, UT
  • Coolest experience – riding along prancing Antelope on the way to Laramie, WY
  • Dogs love to chase bikes.
  • This was a one and done adventure.
  • The vastness of this country is incredible.DSC01133
  • Riding across the country 100 miles at a time was easier than I thought and harder than I imagined (hard to explain).
  • When I asked for a sign along the way…
  • You get to take a new road/go in a new direction only at the top of a hill – never happens at the bottom – you must climb first!
  • Descents are the best!!! (This is what it was like coming down from Spooner Pass)
  • Scoobert is a dog that is too big for an RV!IMG_4345
  • Reconnecting with friends and family is great! Don’t wait to do it.IMG_5711
  • Downshift before you stop. No, really. Downshift BEFORE you stop!
  • America is not flat (except for parts of Nebraska)DSC01206
  • Even Iowa has hills, lot’s of hills!
  • My faith in humanity has been made stronger.
  • There are a lot of good people out there!IMG_5344
  • Respect the checklist! We learned early on that I needed a checklist to make sure I remembered everything. I forgot things every day! (Things forgotten: tail light, Camelbak, sunglasses, food, sunscreen, helmet, more…)Checklist
  • Respect the SAG team! They have a different vantage point and are extremely helpful!IMG_5051
  • Cycling gets you a great tan. LOLIMG_5726

This is likely my last post for a while. There will be more adventures/goals coming up and I may write about them as well, but I’m pretty sure nothing will be as epic as this one was! Apparently, this is the end of the path for now. 😉IMG_5080

God is good! Ride on!

 

 

MAA – Day 5 – Those Hills!

To anyone living in the Midwest, I can unequivocally tell you that America is definitely not flat! I always thought the hills between Hammond and South Bend, IN were tough. Boy, was I naïve! Then I thought the hills around Napa Valley were tough. Well, they were. Just in a different sort of way. Today, I started out with a 2.6 mile climb of about 800 feet starting at around 6600 feet elevation (Remember, I live essentially at sea level)! Then I got to ride down a 6% grade for about 2.5 miles! What fun! I LOVE the descents! I thought it was pretty cool. Not too tough given that my legs were fresh. Oh, but not to be outdone…I ended up doing 6 more climbs with the same amount of elevation gain throughout the day (when my legs weren’t so fresh). We even topped the day off with a swirling, mostly cross, sometimes head wind at a steady 17 mph. with gusts up to 35mph. Even the big box (think sail) sag wagon was nervous waiting for me in that! Made it through, though, and survived Route 50! Ride on!

Lesson of the day: when you take off your sunglasses, don’t touch the lenses with your fingers!

Pics of the day:

Song of the day: Psalm 121

Ride on!

Lessons Learned While Training

img_2850

Training has been good not only for improving fitness. It has also taught me many things in preparation for my long adventure.

In no particular order…

  • Shift to a lower gear BEFORE stopping – especially on an incline (makes starting up again, much easier).
  • Turn lights on before heading out.
  • Turn lights off once you are home for the day.
  • Check your tire psi before every ride.
  • Fill your water bottles – and remember to take them with you.
  • Keep Spare cash/ATM card in your bag.
  • I don’t like being cold!
  • Layers are good things!
  • My face dries out much quicker/easier at age 54 than it did at age 25. Sunscreen and moisturizers are good things.
  • Heat, hills, and headwind are still a B–ch! (Did I say I don’t like being cold? Really?)
  • I can change a flat tire.
  • Riding 100 miles isn’t so hard.
  • Ride your own ride! Always!
  • Spinning at a high cadence is a good thing (helps for climbing, moving against the wind, and endurance).
  • Sometimes the mapping aps get it wrong!
  • Photos do not fully capture what you experience out there.
  • Chamois is a good thing.
  • If you want to use technology, charge your batteries!
  • Brifters – who knew? Didn’t have those when I rode in the ’80’s.
  • Use the built in snot rag part of the gloves, not the scratchy mesh! (Unless of course, you have an itch.)
  • Close your mouth if you don’t want to eat bugs.
  • If I never swallow another bug, it will be too soon!
  • Tailwinds are good only if you are NOT returning home on the same route.
  • Headwinds are good ONLY if you are returning home on the same route.
  • Wear sunscreen even if it’s overcast.
  • Cars do not see you – you must keep aware of them.
  • Self discipline – get out there and ride – even when it’s cold, even when it’s raining, even when it’s hot, even when it’s windy, but only if it’s fun.
  • I can still do this!

God is good! Ride on!

If my head wasn’t screwed on, I’d forget that too!

Head On

It’s a weird thing. I am very absent minded. Once something gets to my long term memory banks, though, I never forget it. Ask anyone who really knows me. I never forget birthdays, obscure anniversary dates, phone numbers, names, words that were spoken, treatments rendered, etc. I can still see doodles on pages of my Anatomy class notes. The problem is, it has to get there because my short term memory seems to be for naught. I can’t remember five things I was supposed to pick up at the store. I can’t remember to bring a book to a friend. I can’t remember my purse when we leave a restaurant. A year from now though, I’ll be able to tell you what was on my shopping list, or what page I read something interesting on, or what I ordered in the restaurant.

It’s funny. When I rode my bike in the eighty’s I never worried about remembering anything. We didn’t have cell phones. I had a small, first generation cycle computer that told me my speed and distance and started automatically. I didn’t really think about safety (I was in my twenties after all) so I didn’t have lights or safety vests or reflectors and what not. I did wear a helmet. Today though, is a totally different story. I have a satellite tracker (to keep my husband and friends happy). I have a fancy Garmin cycle computer that has info about everything, including maps. I have lights on the front and back of the bike. I have reflective bands. I have multiple water bottles. I have repair tools/kits. I have a cell phone and ear buds – yes I do occasionally like to listen to low volume music in one ear. I probably have other things that I’m forgetting.

That brings me to checklists. Checklists are great. And I’ve decided I pretty much need one (or two) for my bike. Otherwise, I forget to charge the aforementioned equipment. I forget to bring one thing or another. I forget to turn the lights on or I forget to turn them off when I’m done for the day.  And it goes on. Checklists are part of my life too, so I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before now. I am a private pilot and you use checklists before/during every flight. I help my husband who teaches CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) and checklists are a big part of being prepared for and responding to disasters. I work in healthcare where checklists are used routinely to make sure the right patients are receiving the right treatments. I even make out a weekly grocery list these days.

And so, for peace of mind, I have created my bicycling checklists. I have one (would you believe it) for take off and landing (start up/shut down of various electronics). And I have one of things I should bring along when I’m planning to be 50 or more miles away from home base.

Now if only I could remember to check the checklist!

Ride on!