Thursday, June 12, 2008

Last update from Cleveland

Tomorrow morning we are leaving for Chicago, and I didn't end up having as much time as I would have liked over the last 3 days to write about the first part of my trip, largely due to m y preoccupation with television watching and loafing. Rest assurred, however, that I have taken good notes and will eventually do so.

I would like to take a moment to update the cyber world on the restructuring of our plans. We realized on day 3 that, though we found ourselves to by physically capable of maintaining the necessary level of speed for the necessary amount of time to make it across the country in our 4-5 week time frame, it wouldn't be any fun to do it that way. We've managed about 600 miles in 6 days of riding during week one, with no training or preparation, including 127 miles on the last day, and most of it through the mountains of northern Pennsylvania. We survived camping every night for a week except one day, when we stayed in a $40 motel room so that we could shower. And at the end of it, we felt more fit than ever. I feel satisfied that if I was determined I would make it in the time frame that we originally set, but I also discovered that biking 100 miles a day kind of sucks and doesn't leave a whole lot of time for anything else.

After Sean's bike sufferred a bottom bracket cup unthreading problem which forced us to backtrack 30 miles from Tunkhannock to Scranton and spend the better part of a morning at a bike shop, we sat and reevaluated our intentions, realizing that we had been trying to combine two endeavors into an impossibly short period, and that we could either commit a feat of athleticism and commitment by biking across the country in a little over a month, or have an adventure on the road that involved stopping along the way, hanging out in random small towns, and enjoying ourselves, but that the pace required by the first precluded spending sufficient time on the second. As a result, we opted for fun (perhaps slightly out of character), figuring that if we only biked a couple of thousand miles, had some new experiences and a lot of fun, without putting pressure on ourselves to go go go, we would ultimately feel better about how we spent our vacation.

The (tentative) plan we came up with is to bike to Chicago, hang out, bike to Minneappolis, hang out, take a bus/train/plane to Seattle, hang out, bike to Olympia, hang out, and finally, bike to portland. The total trip will probably end up being around 2000 miles of riding, which I still feel pretty good about since this is the first time I've attempted a ride longer than the 2006 Halloween Alleycat in New York which included checkpoints at 150th and Amsterdam, Greenwood Cemetary, and Bushwick, finishing in Bed-Stuy. Perhaps some day I'll attempt a cross-country bike trip on an expensive carbon road bike with no gear (ideally with a support van, but short of that, simply by staying in motels every night instead of camping), and make it in a month. Or some day I might try a cross-country bike trip at a more leasurely pace, getting a chance to check out small towns and do some soul-searching, and take 3 or 4 months to do it. This time, however, we've chosen option C: the old-fashioned American road trip but on bikes. Adventure, here I come.

I'll write again from Chicago in (hopefully) 3 or 4 days. Until then, enjoy this ridiculous fucking heat wave and trust that we will, too.

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