Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Ok, no pictures to load at the moment, I left them in my hotel room and I am in the lobby using this computer--but I think I took some nice photos so far and will post them soon.
I left Bozeman last Wednesday, June 18th. It's now the 25th--so I've been on the road for a full week now. It's been great!
The trip through Wyoming has been fantastic. Roads are in good shape--the shoulders wide and usually clean, the weather has cooperated, the drivers have been exceptionally considerate and the views outstanding. I didn't expect things to be so nice.
I've met a good number of cyclists. You can tell a fellow touring cyclist from afar--loaded bikes stand out. When they are heading towards me, we always cross over for a chat. Everyone is smiling and immediately shares their views of the road behind them (and therefore ahead of me). Cyclists are a laid back bunch. Most are older (meaning 40+) which suits me fine. I did run into a group of three just-out-of-college-testosterone-loaded-super-cyclists though. They have bretheren in the thru-hiking community as well--their age and status in life leads them to brag a bit more than may be appropriate about their mileage and pace. Oh well, boys will be boys. The other cyclists and I just wave nicely to them and encourage them on to even higher mileage and virile efforts--thereby helping them to move on...
So, here are a few stats for anyone interested.
I do 70-75 miles per day average.
My average mph is 12.
I try to get to finish the day in mid afternoon latest--this avoids the standard rocky mountain afternoon thunderstorm.
I've stayed in motels/hotels far more often than I expected.
Why the last? Well, one downside to cycling is that campsites are few and far between and usually found amidst fields of RV's. And because I finish my day's miles early, sitting in a tent in the heat, with bugs and RV motors running, is unenviable to say the least.
I did have a nice secluded camp just south of Yellowstone--I saw a thing path leading into the woods as my day ended so walked my bike down it and found a flat spot.
Ok, back to biking. Let's see. I usually get on the road between 7 and 9 AM--that will change as summer hits in earnest. I will try to be on road by 6 AM. I stop every 20 miles or so--usually at a gas station or a small, middle-of-nowhere, store. I hydrate, eat a snack, stretch a bit and then push on.
There have been some big climbs over the past few weeks--one was 23 miles long and others have been done with a headwind. A headwind is when the wind is hitting you straight on--making even a 6 mph pace quite the effort. But, at some point, I'll catch a tailwind--I look forward to that day! The climbs--they have been a challenge but definetly doable. I am rarely so fatigued at the end of the day that I can't move--I have sore thighs and a sore bum from the saddle, but that is about all.
If memory serves--I am 500 miles into the trip. I am in Laramie, WY. I will hit Colorado tomorrow and visit my Aunt and Uncle south of Fort Collins.
And by the way, I followed the mapped Transamerica route by Adventure Cycling through Wyoming, but from here on out, I will just use road maps and my GPS. It feels GREAT to do that. I am not sure of food, water and shelter each day, but something will always turn up.
I plan to cross northeastern Colorado, northern Kansas and then link up with the Katy Trail in Missouri. The Katy Trail is a rails-to-trail bike path. It's 275 miles along the Missouri river--through Missouri wine country and spotted with nie river side towns, BB's and other views. Other cyclists I've met going westbound (who also deviated from the "official" route--oOOoooooOOOohh the horror!!) tell me good things about the Katy Trail. I got the idea to ride it from my dad who likes Hermann, MO--a winery rich town along that trail.
From Missouri I will cross Illinois into Kentucky where I will bike along the Kentucky/Ohio border (along the Ohio river). My general destination is Northern Virginia from where I can visit Harpers Ferry, the Shenandoah's, Antietam and Gettsyburg.
Ok, enough rambling. I will see if I can get back on later and post some pictures and perhaps a few day specific accounts of the ride so far.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Pictured: Touring bikes outside of Adventure Cycling in Missoula, MT. Many routes are planned and mapped by Adventure Cycling.
After my aborted experience on the PCT, I didn't want to repeat the kind of guidebook and rule driven adventure it offered. So I left the PCT and extended my original bike ride plans of around 700 miles to a much longer one. How long? I do not know. I want this trip to be open ended--not subject to or confined by a specific route. I've enjoyed reading other such blogs so I created my own. Plus, it will be a good place to rant and relieve stress.
The trip plan? In general, I will head east along what is known as the Transamerica Bike Route. See adventurecycling.com for details.
The TransAm route ends in Virginia...a state I love. I've vacationed there, I've hiked there, and I've biked there. If I ever leave Montana, Virginia will be high on my list of places to live. In fact, one of the primary reasons I selected the TransAmerica route is it's route throughVirginia, though I must profess a familair feeling of foolishness for deciding to spend the majority of trip just getting there...
I did a similarly senseless thing when I decided to hike the Appalachian Trail in 2005: I wanted to see Maine. But Maine was the terminus of the AT and by the time I arrived, some 2000 tortuous miles later, I was beat to hell and just wanted to finish.
Lessons learned are soon forgotten.
There is another reason for this trip though. I have wanted to bike across America for many years. So it's time to do it. If I enjoy it, I may go further, or, I may not.
Pictured: The Hyalite Resevoir, my usual destination on training rides. Mid June. Snow, Sleet, Rain, Wind, Storms and even some Ice on the water.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Pictured: Specialized Tri-Cross Comp bike. It's designed for both road and trail. Saddle bags are Ortlieb (water-proof, simple, single compartments). A Topeak handlebar bag and a Northface hydration/day-pack covered in a blue water-proof bag complete the carrying capacity. I added those super-cool-every-kid-wants-them fenders. All I need now are tassles to hang from my handlebars and a sissy bar. Maybe an Ace of Spades for my spokes too.
Originally, I planned to hike more miles than I biked this year. I enjoy hiking. From day and overnight hikes here in Montana to my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2005, I've always enjoyed hiking. So I set out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail this year--from Mexico to Canada. Then I was going to bike from the western coast of Washington to Glacier National Park in Montana, and then go back to hiking as I trekked down the Contintental Divide Trail through Montana and back home to Bozeman, MT. The plan was exciting--I was eager to start.
Yet best laid plans...
I prepared myself for hardships--foul weather, aches, pains, hunger, blisters, and fatigue. However, I was not prepared for the boredom induced by 700 miles of desert terrain and I was woefully unprepared for a thru-hiking culture as narrow as it was bookish. So I bailed from that world of a two-yard-wide trail with its rules and regulations copied straight from a tax-code instruction manual and hatched a new scheme. I would do what I thought about several years ago: I would bike across America. After liberating myself from hiker purity land, I came back to Bozeman to prepare. Some of things I did:
- Added touring gears to my Specialized Tri-Cross Comp Bike
- Re-did my gear load. I used most of my backpacking gear and added in some items for bike repair and a much larger tent (versus my tarp and bivy used on trail)
- Got in some training ride (never enough)
- Got rained on, snowed on, hailed on, sleeted on and frozen all while on the bike
- Went to Adventure Cycling in Missoula, MT to buy maps
- Ate snickers bars and drank pepsi (a left over habit from my month on the PCT)
That last one was by far my favorite.
The plan is pretty simple. Bike east. If time permits, I hope to get back to Montana for a late summer, early autumn hike thru Glacier, the Bob Marshal and other parts of the Continental Divide.
The trip, in whatever form it takes, must adhere to one principle: Impurity!
America is a vast and interesting place. Whether by car, foot or pedal, it's worth a look.
My first test of the blogspot process. I plan to use this blog to record a pending bike trip.
So far, Blogspot is easy. It allows picture uploads...and...it's free. So it turns out that my economics professors all lied.
I used Trailjournals.com this year as well--it was a natural site to use on my PCT attempt. However, Trailjournals, much like the PCT itself, is a highly linear and narrow thing. It feels more form-like, more guided, and more constraining than what I wanted. I felt like I was balancing a budget when I used it. There are, however, benefits to Trailjournals. One of which is easy access to many other journals. It offers hours if not months of fun reads as you follow along with hundreds of hikers. It's a site that remains on my favorites list.
Hmm, but back to Blogspot. I need to figure out how to delete posts. You know, in case I post some off-the-wall-rant (what, me, rant? Noooo, get outta town!) and then regret it in the morning. Like for example, my frequent rants about "Global Warmingists " and how they like to point out that at one time, the mountains and valleys in the picture above were all covered in thick ICE fields! Glorious, picturesque, abundant ICE. You know, back in the good 'ole days before the advent of the SUV. Coincidentally, life was extinguished under all that ice. But nevermind the grim facts, they get in the way of a good "cause" or "protest".
See what I did there? An impromtu rant. I couldn't help myself. Now, let's say that I don't want to offend a portion of possible readers (hah, as if), well, I might want to rescind the rant after a good night's sleep and a healthy dose of coffee.
But, well, that is what mornings are for; regrets. And breakfast. And coffee. Actually, just hold the first, double up on the second and add hashbrowns to the third, then we're good to go.