Saturday, June 21, 2008

Leaving Chicago

Another round of french toast at Pick Me Up this morning (which may have been the non-vegan one; it started to taste weird after we were more than halfway through but we weren't sure and we figured that if it was the non-vegan one they would probably just end up throwing it out), Whole Foods to pick up some snacks for the next 2 days, and a bike shop to get boxes for our bikes. After a series of conversations about our plans and goals, at which I've hinted a couple of times, we decided to ride to Milwaukee, which is about a day from here, and fly to Seattle. However, the day after we decided not to buy $150 tickets because we wanted to think about it more, the prices went up by more than $100, so I ended up buying $180 Greyhound tickets and we are now poised to spend almost 48 house on a bus, starting at 10:30 tonight. After I leave here we are going to eat one last meal at Chicago Diner (of course), pack up our bikes, and take the train (what do they call it here? the "L"?) to the bus station. Once we make it to Seattle, we'll hang out there for a couple of days and then ride, at a much more liesurely pace, to Olympia, then out to the coast, and, finally, to Portland. I sent an email to a friend yesterday explaining why we decided to take this route, so rather than retyping more or less the same thing, I'll just paste it below. If you live in Seattle, get at me. If you live in Portland, I'll see you in a week or so.

For my non-cyclist readers, the following is borrowed from Wikipedia:
Drafting or slipstreaming is a technique in sports racing where competitors align in a close group in order to reduce the overall effect of drag or fluid resistance of the group in a slipstream. Especially when high speeds are involved, drafting can significantly reduce the average energy expenditure required to maintain a certain speed.

To Dan:
So Sean and I managed about 90-100 miles for the first leg of the trip (not counting the day we took off in Scranton, PA), pus a 130 mile day at the end. We stayed in Cleveland for 3 days, and then did about 100-110 for a couple of days, two 60-70 mile days, and got to Chicago. We realized a couple of days in that if we kept the pace high, drafted, and didn't stop too much, we could keep up 100-150 a day for the next 3 or 4 weeks (with a day off once a week or so and varying with the headwinds and terrain), sleeping wherever we ended the day and eating whatever we could find along the way, and make it to Portland in a litle over a month. We also realized that this would be no fun at all. That kind of pace leaves no time for the things about traveling that I really enjoy: exploring new towns, checking out local vegan food, meeting people, and generally having adventures. Those were the reasons I wanted to do this, not just to prove that I am a really hardcore cyclist (because let's face it, I'm not), and they were being totally eclipsed by the pressure to keep going. Additionally, for me, at least, riding 15-20 mph on a loaded up touring bike requires a lot of mental energy as well as physical; I found myself spending most of my riding time just thinking about riding. If I'm leading, all I can think about is push push push keep up the pace don't slow down, and if I'm drafting I'm just staring at Sean's rear wheel desperately trying not to let it get any further from me. In New York I've gotten so accustomed to traffic that if I just ride 12-15mph and find good lines, I can zone out and think about other stuff, and I was hoping that this trip would give me a lot of time to get some good thinking done. It hasn't. I don't like riding enough to enjoy riding for most of my waking hours, thinking about nothing but riding, and having no time for anything else, and Sean likes it only a little more than me. So the revised plan became: take it slow, stop often, explore, have adventures, and enjoy ourselves. We made it to Chicago in about 4 or 5 more days than it would have taken if we hadn't spent 3 days in Cleveland and taken a few slow days, and we've been hanging out here for 4 days already. If we had all summer, we would just keep this up and make it to Portland eventually, but since Sean needs to be back at work on july 21st and wants at least 2 weeks in Portland, we are going to probably fly from Milwaukee, which is a days ride from here, to Seattle, hang out there for a few days, ride to Olympia and then out to the coast, and finally down the coast to Portland, for a total distance of around 1300-1500 miles.

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