One of the things I found very useful in my previous life in Technology was the FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions Section of a manual or web page. With that in mind, here are a few that certainly came up:
Hidalgo: Do these panniers make my rear look big? Of course not. In fact they make your saddle look even slimmer by contrast. (In reality they make you wider and slower, but would you insult the one that is carrying you 3,000 miles? Not me!)
- Are you riding alone? Yes. It always seemed like a reasonable question, but I always thought it to be a strange question after I would give someone my card [ THE LONE RIDER ] and they would still ask me “Are you travelling by yourself?” I mean it would be kind of an oxymoron to call myself The Lone Rider and then travel in a group! Reminds me of the movie, “Airheads”. In it, three band members hoping for a big break head to a radio station to play their demo tape and wind up holding everyone hostage with plastic guns when the head DJ refuses to play them. The name of the GROUP is “The Lone Rangers” (plural). Beyond the name, I am a little anti-social. I prefer to ride alone. It also made the logistics of the ride much simpler when you are making plans for a group of one.
- What happens when it rains? I get wet. Yes, there were times when I rode in the rain, but usually not by choice. And when it did rain, I wore as many waterproof items as I could, but I could still get wet. The Ortlieb panniers kept my belongings and packed clothes dry, but I had to deal with the weather as it came. There were only about 6 days where I got wet riding, although there were more than that when it rained.
- Where do you stay at night, are you camping? I planned my route so that I would always finish in a town that had at least one hotel/motel. I also spent 7 of the 42 nights in “Warm Showers” homes. Warm Showers is a network of hospitality homes by cyclists, for cyclists. Camping would have necessitated carrying more gear. Besides, the last thing I wanted to do after riding 70 or 80 miles was to pitch a tent, be without a warm shower, and try to rummage a dinner with what I had been carrying. There were several nights where it rained overnight, so I also would have been without even my bathtub for laundry duty.
- Why are you doing this? Are you riding for a cause? I am riding to promote awareness, raise funds, and encourage others to support youth mentoring. That’s what it said on my card. Of course the real answer is I’m doing it because I’ve always wanted to do it – since I was a teenager. I am doing it now because I now have the time and resources to pull it off. If I had waited too much longer, I don’t know if my health would still be there. And, as I told various people along the way, I need to finish the ride before I turn 60, because then I’ll be too old! As a side note, More than $1,400 was raised for various mentoring organizations. If you like, please go to the donate section of the website and pick out an organization that is in your back yard. Let me know if you make a donation – I’m an analytical guy that likes to keep track of that stuff.
- How did you come up with the route? I used the Race Across America (RAAM) route of 2012 as my foundation, then made some adjustments along the way. That year’s route started in Oceanside and finished in Annapolis. I started deviating from it in eastern Kansas and took a final detour to finish in Baltimore.
- What is the mental jukebox? I have a very old (circa 2005) 30 GB iPod that is 90% filled with an eclectic mix of music from the 50’s through early 80’s. It also has a few more modern tunes, along with a fair amount of big band, jazz, folk, and classical music. I listen to it any time I’m doing housework, mowing the lawn, or in the car. I made the conscious decision not to use it for this bike ride. I wanted to be able to hear everything around me. Whether it was approaching cars, attacking dogs, a leaky tire, a rubbing brake, bad shifting, – I wanted to hear any signs of trouble. Even though I didn’t have any earbuds piping music into my head, it didn’t stop the mental jukebox from synchronising some music to what I was feeling or seeing at the time. Among the more popular tunes was Roger Miller’s “King Of The Road”, Edwin Starr doing “25 miles (from home)”,”illinois” by Dan Folgelberg when I crossed the Mississippi, “Cool Water” by the Sons of the Pioneers (When I was in the desert), “Closer to Home” by Grand Funk when I was approaching Indianapolis crossing I-65, “Leaving On A Jet Plane” when I was leaving Indianapolis and Becky, “Nowhere to Run Nowhere to Hide” by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas was playing when I was in a bad section of Baltimore near the finish, and so many more. The mental jukebox was playing “I Walk the Line” as I stared at the white line, heads down pedaling toward Wolf Creek Pass in CO. It sustained me against headwinds in Kansas, steep climbs in the Rockies, and steeper climbs in the Appalachians. I went through a couple of early Beatles albums climbing the mountains in Colorado. Throughout my ride, the mental jukebox would load up something to encourage me, mock me, and sustain me through each crank of the pedals.
- You keep talking about second breakfast. Is that just an extra meal? Second breakfast is partly a reference to the first Lord Of The Rings movie – Fellowship of the Ring. The hobbits are following Aragorn. Merry and Pippin complain that they are hungry. Aragorn yells back at them, “You already had breakfast”. They reply “Ah, but that was just first breakfast. What about second breakfast? Or elevenses?. Then there’s lunch. And afternoon tea, lunch, dinner, and supper ..” Kindly, Aragorn throws an apple to each of the pair to tide them over until their next “regular” meal break. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLXeL4HbPr4] In most of the cheap hotels I stayed, they offered a “continental breakfast”. As one of my warm showers hosts stated very accurately, “that is breakfast for people that don’t eat breakfast”. Sometimes it was instant oatmeal, packaged muffins or donuts, or maybe bread for toast. There was hardly any protein – no yogurt or milk or eggs or anything else substantial. For that reason, I would often go to a grocery store the night before and try to get a frozen breakfast sandwich or a pack of boiled eggs. After 15 or 25 miles on the road, I would be looking for a place that might serve “real” breakfast with eggs, sausage and pancakes. I’d like to wash it down with a cold glass of milk. Second breakfast became the most important and favorite meal of the day – when I could get it. My fondest meals were at local cafe’s and diners that knew how to put out a great breakfast.
I’ll have to put out a list of my favorite breakfast places and best hotel experiences.
- Did you lose any weight? Yes, but I’m sure I will find it or it will find me. Just before the start of the ride I was running between 176 to 179 lbs. I didn’t get a chance to weigh myself until Wichita, KS, about halfway through the ride. I weighed about 173 on my host’s scale. When I made it to Indy I was at 171, but down to 170 when I continued to Richmond, IN. When the ride finished in Baltimore, it took us another day to get home and I was at 171 again. Now, 3.5 weeks later I’ve been around 174 or 175. Though I didn’t lose that much weight, it definitely got redistributed. I won’t say I have a six pack going now, but I probably have a 2 pack.
- Was there something you wished you had packed? Was there things you packed, but wished you hadn’t? I think I did pretty good. I think there was only one article of clothing (long underwear) that I didn’t end up wearing. I probably could have gone with one less jersey and one less long sleeve garment. I wish I had the correct chain tool. I wish I had a working portable charger/powershot for my phone. The first one only gave me an extra 10-20% charge to my phone and the one I picked up later barely worked. Should have tested both before I packed them. I sent some of the cold weather clothing back with Mike when he left me in Kansas. I wished I’d had the leg warmers, booties, baklava, and long fingered gloves on the colder, wet days in Kansas.
- What’s next? We are busy packing. We have sold our home in Indianapolis and are moving to a rental in Vancouver, WA. We have been saying goodbye to a lot of people. I would do the cross country ride again in a heartbeat – but I don’t need to. I’m sure I will do some multi-day bike tours once we get settled. For now, I’m playing a lot of tennis, packing for the move, and going for an occasional ride.