A few principles of bike touring have arisen in the past nine weeks. Let’s see how many I can remember.
- Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. We still have a day of riding ahead of us. We’re not at the coast yet. Or as Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
- Don’t pass porcelain. That was Cate’s way of saying don’t pass up a bathroom when one is available. Never leave breakfast without one last stop.
- If you snore, sleep in your own tent, far away from everyone else.
- If you stay up later or get up earlier than everyone else, be quiet. Some of us like to sleep.
- If you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t just roll over. It means you have to pee. Get up. This may only apply to old people.
- If you go down, you’ll have to go back up.
- Ride your ride, climb your climb. There is no need to keep up with anyone else, and you may not have the gears to go as slowly as someone else. There are a lot of miles ahead. Ride at the pace that feels right to you, especially when going up (or down).
- Don’t try to keep up with the short-timers. They have fresh legs and they’re going home soon.
- Stop and smell the roses. The end of the day, the opposite coast – they’ll be there when you get there. There is no need to rush. You might not get to do this again. Don’t miss it this time.
- Watch the scenery but also watch the road. Hazards appear quickly and you have to have space to respond to them.
- The scenery is always more interesting than someone’s back. Pacelines are for races. There are exceptions. I like to see hazards for myself and not count on someone to point them out. Sometimes there are too many to point to and the line you must thread is narrow. If you are on someone’s wheel, you can’t see the hazards.
- Remember you’re doing this for fun.
- The stupidity of one’s opinion is directly proportional to the size of the sign extolling it.
Today is the last day. It should be easy. See Principle #1. The week has not been. We’ve had to earn this last day. We will ride into Gloucester and meet at the high school. When we are all there we will ride the last mile together, with a police escort, to the beach. We’ll dip our front tires in the Atlantic and I will mix the Pacific with the Atlantic, having carried a vial of Pacific Ocean across the country. We’ll then disperse for dinner and meet up for a harbor cruise. We’ll spend the last night sleeping indoors so we have dry tents to pack. Sunday we are (almost) all off to the airport to scatter.
The last day had to be earned with 90 hard miles on the penultimate day. The place was buzzing with activity by 5:15 AM. At 5:45 I am writing while watching others. Trailer loading at 6:15, breakfast 6:30. What are they going to do to kill the time? I still have a comfy pad to sit on.
It was a beautiful 90 miles. Rolling hills, sweeping curves; very little flat or straight riding; mostly back roads but a mix including state and US highways and some urban riding – a little of everything to remind us of the past 9 weeks. I headed out with the Milwaukee boys. At the first water stop, I let them go ahead. (See the principle above re: short-timers.) At picnic, one rider said, “it’s like we’re back in Wisconsin again.” I rejoined the Milwaukee boys after picnic (which featured pizza) and we flew through the next 20 miles. Overall, it was a pretty fast day. I figured I’d see what was left in the tank after 4000 miles. We straddled the border between New Hampshire and Maine for much of the day. The night is in a campground outside of Durham, New Hampshire. No wifi and poor cell service. We’ll see if this update uploads. Dinner is via shuttle to the UNH campus.
For the night before our last ride, we are in a dark campground and the moon is nearly new. The bathroom is a 5 minute walk and has a single toilet to serve 50 of us. To get there we walk through a militia stronghold with “interesting” banners and props. Maybe they’ll leave their lights on all night so we can find our way. The other campers appear to be mostly semi-permanent residents.