One Week Out

Yup. I leave in one week! Many thoughts are running through my head, as I am sure happens to anyone before they take on something big. The reality is sinking in…

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The completed cockpit. 

Things I am nervous for:

  1. Riding a route that has been referred to by Outside Magazine as “leg pulverizing” and “the most difficult border-to-border road ride ever designed.” Those aren’t exactly encouraging words. BUT lots of folks do this route. If they can do it, I can do it. It’ll just hurt a bit.
  2. Riding through the desert in SoCal. I’ve never spent much time in the desert. How hot will it really get? (Weather.com says 80 ish) How much water should I carry? Can I wake up early enough in the morning to beat the heat?
  3. Underestimating my budget. I’m planning on doing lots of wild camping, asking for hospitality at churches and fire/police stations, and using a site called WarmShowers where cyclists host other cyclists. What if I end up in campgrounds more than I am thinking? That would be okay, but I’d rather spend less on lodging if possible.
  4. Relying purely on my own problem solving faculties. I trust myself and my abilities, but part of my motivation for this trip is that I’ve realized how much I rely on others. I think having people to lean on is important, but so is being able to look to myself. I’m nervous that it’ll be a learning curve.
  5. Feeling homesick. Out walking in the woods with Mr. Bike this evening, I was recognizing how very much I love Montana, the people and places that are my home. What if I spend my whole trip just longing to be at home? Would that waste the experience, or would it just teach me more about myself? I will miss my husband. SO MUCH. I’m not even sure how to describe the feeling. He is my companion.

There are also lots of things I’m excited for:

  1. Challenging myself with a task that is mentally and physically difficult, that I am choosing to face intentionally. I want to craft resilience and grit in myself (edu jargon!). It’s what my friend calls “Challenge by Choice.” Another friend from college is traveling the world with her husband, and he put it nicely on their blog P&E World Tour: this is an adventure that “is not fun while you’re doing it, but it is fun to talk about later.”
  2. Seeing beautiful places that I have never seen. I get to ride through Yosemite and Sequoia and King’s Canyon, Lassen Volcanic, Crater Lake, Olympic, Northern Cascades. I get to see giant trees, and climb giant mountain passes, and examine strange desert plants. I hope the stars are amazing.
  3. Connecting with people in a meaningful way. Often during my “real” life, I feel that I fly by people without really engaging with them. The old “Hey, how’s it going?” “Good, how ’bout you?” conversation. But I’m hoping that doing something interesting will allow me to meet interesting people and hear their stories. There should be more storytelling with each other.
  4. Meditating through movement. I am a quiet soul, a body at rest. I do yoga, and can spend hours on a Sunday morning gazing at the ceiling above my bed and journeying through my imagination. I like that about myself. But, I think my life needs more movement in order to stay healthy and to relieve stress. I’m excited to practice moving.
  5. Facing the unknown. There is a lot about this trip that I have no idea or plan for. Timing? Meh, could be spot on, could be way off. Route? Yikes, maybe I’ll abandon the mountains for the coast. So much of life feels regimented and planned: go to college, get degree, get job, marriage, house, kids. My teaching life follows the same schedule and habits most days. I am excited to relax in not having a totally figured out plan. That’s what makes it an adventure, is I don’t know what to expect.
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Bluebird day for the final shakedown ride.

Sunshine, Wind, and Maps

The weather here is a lovely (and worrisome) 50 degrees. The evidence of street sweepers shows in the smooth and clear road shoulders, but there’s few spots they’ve yet to visit. Gravel-strewn corners are interesting. It’s spring cycling time! Mr. Bike and I went on our first outside ride of 2016.

Boy howdy! Wind! But it was fresh and sunny and exciting. It felt like a beginning, even though I’ve been riding inside for a month now, getting out in the elements felt much more real. Now, it was only 1.5 hours, and I wasn’t carrying any weight. But it felt good to feel good on a bicycle.

Speaking of my bicycle… I’ve been preparing her for the ride as well. I bought Andromeda* in October, second hand from the sports shop just down the street. She belonged to a pair of bikes that were owned by an older couple, and sadly lived in the garage for a long time. So I’m glad to help her get an adventure in. Her lonely time also means that most of the components are in really good shape for a 10 year old bike. I’m making some revisions though. Changing the seat, for example, for better padding and comfort, but also because I felt silly with a leopard print, embroidered butterfly seat. Once I get the full set up, I’ll put a picture of all the changes.

The biggest story right now is that I’ve got my maps from Adventure Cycling!!! This means that I am actually figuring out my route and starting to envision myself on the trail. I’ve no idea what I’ll encounter, or if I’ll make it all the way, but even getting started and doing what I can will be a cool adventure. See the “Home” page for the description of my route and dates.

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*All our bikes, except for Aspen, my dear 1980 Nishiki commuter, are named for the stars. We’ve had Star, Luna, Red Shift, Blue Shift, Dark Matter, and Perseus.

 

Some Details

So my first post on this blog served to outline my purposes and educational goals. This post will give a few more details, particularly for those of you who are, ahem, going to join me. You know who you are 😉

An actual itinerary with more specific dates is dependent on the upcoming arrival of my route maps from Adventure Cycling Association. So far, this is what I know about my journey on the Sierra Cascades Route:

Overall, I have 70 days with 53 days biking at a minimum, which averages to 65 miles per biking day. I’ll be trying to keep lodging cheap, using WarmShowers (a biker’s Couch Surfing) and camping. No hostels or hotels for this teacher gal. I’ll take roughly 1 rest day per week, with an occasional extra. Except for my flight date, all dates below are approximations.

I’m flying out of Bozeman and into San Diego on June 13th. My bike will be traveling via BikeFlights.com. I’ll need to pick it up when I get into town. That first day, I’ll hang out in the city exploring and getting my gear in order and then I’ll bike to the border at Tecate to really get things underway. The rest of June and the first week of July will be spent in California traveling North visiting places like Sequoia National Forest, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Lassen Volcanic, and Mt. Shasta.

Oregon gets 9 days, roughly July 9-18, staying in the National Forests in the center of the state past Crater Lake and Mt. Hood. Then I’m going to switch trails to go through Portland and over to the ocean and connecting to the Washington Parks route.

Washington gets 14 days, the last two weeks in July and a bit of August.  I’ll visit Olympic and North Cascades National Park, plus there’ll be a ferry ride in there somewhere. As a landlubber, the idea of traveling by ferry is strangely exciting to me, though it’ll probably make me motion sick.  I’ll jump to the Canadian border at Sumas before joining the Northern Tier trail to head back towards Montana. Canada!

Idaho and Montana get another 14-16 days in the middle two weeks of August (at least it’s not the desert!). I’ll be visiting Glacier, staying with my parents in Kalispell for a day or two, then stopping by Adventure Cycling’s headquarters in Missoula before finishing in Bozeman just in time to set up my classroom and start another year of teaching. My estimated finish date is Aug 22nd.

(An exciting incentive: we can avoid most of the summer’s presidential election hype. It’s gonna be huge! We’ll feel the bern as we unleash the American dream!)

Photo Credit: White House

Photo Credit: Voice of America