Best of times, worst of times

The worst:

  • COVID-19 and the inconsiderate asshole who brought it to us. Sorry for the bluntness but I was really sick for five days and contemplated giving up and flying home due to someone who knowingly brought the virus to us.
  • Michigan with its poor quality roads, inconsiderate drivers, boring routes.
  • flat tires coming in pairs
  • Central and eastern South Dakota and most of Minnesota – flat, boring, windy, bad expansion cracks. Days of slogging to get through the miles to the next town. Days that had me singing “Every time that wheel turns round, bound to cover just a little more ground” to remind myself that I was getting somewhere.
  • Wearing through my front derailleur cage. I found a replacement! It is waiting for me at home. Chorus instead of Super Record, metal cage instead of carbon fiber. A few grams heavier but more durable if I have positioning errors resulting in chain rub.
  • Worst packing choice: not bringing a sleeping bag – it was cold out west and cold again in the northeast.

The best:

  • The week riding through Wisconsin – beautiful scenery on quiet back roads which followed the contour of the land.
  • The week riding through New York. Once we were out of Niagara Falls and past Buffalo, upstate New York began to resemble southwestern Wisconsin but with better pavement.
  • Three centuries in three days
  • Teton Pass – a tough climb but the sign that I had made it back from COVID-19; a beautiful descent to Jackson and then along the great bike trail system in the valley.
  • Needles Highway, the Black Hills, the Badlands – one right after the other; beauty on top of beauty
  • Dinners at SUNY-Oswego and Case Middle School in Watertown NY, breakfast at Zehnder’s in Frankenmuth MN
  • The final day riding through classic New England small towns (great pavement in New Hampshire, lousy in Massachusetts), meeting local riders; cheering crowd on our arrival, face hurting from grinning.
  • Best item I bought and brought for this trip: Gore C5 1985 Shakedry rain jacket. It is thin and light, stuffs into its own pocket and can fit in a jersey pocket. Small enough to bring every day there is any chance of rain. Keeps me dry and breathes. Has a back pocket, reflective accents, bright yellow accents. Fits well and has two-way zipper.

Small regrets:

  • Not bringing more 2.5 gallon Hefty bags. Zippers failed on a few, so I can’t squeeze out the air and seal the bag to compress it and save space.
  • Not bringing more snack bags. They make a handy waterproof phone case but they do wear out eventually. They also keep a small wallet dry and hold small keys to make them harder to lose.


I hadn’t been on a bike in 2.5 days. Yardwork and Tour de France highlights weren’t doing it. It was 4:30 on Tuesday afternoon and I needed a fix. I put on my bike sandals and helmet, put some air in the tires of the commuter/errand bike, and headed out for a quick neighborhood tour. I rode east to the edge of the neighborhood and turned back toward home. It wasn’t enough. For the past 9 weeks, the first five miles didn’t count. They were just the warm up. I continued west to the other edge of the neighborhood. That led to a bike path along the lake. Well, maybe just a quick out and back to the causeway. Yeah, but that leads right to the loop around the lake. Might as well ride around the lake. 15-20 miles later I was ready to go home, take a shower, and make some dinner. Ahhh, relief!

Author: halffastcyclingclub

We are a group of friends who ride bikes. Some of us are fast, some of us are slow, all of us are half-fast. In 2018, one of us rode coast to coast across the US. It was so much fun, he's doing it again in 2022! If we meet Sal Paradise, we'll let you know.

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