Time

It was 23 years ago yesterday that I started my current job. Did I think I would be here this long? Who knows? I may have thought that about other jobs that didn’t last that long.

But the time has come today. Cycle America 2022, possibly the last iteration of this great coast-to-coast ride, starts in 9½ weeks. At my age, it’s time to start training in earnest. Training takes time, and is not compatible with working 40 hours/week (says the guy who did just that 4 years ago and is doing it again right now).

So today I tell the world (or at least the tiny corner of the world that reads this blog), that I am retiring. And on Father’s Day (also Juneteenth) I will once again (in a time-honored ritual) dip my rear tire into the Pacific Ocean and embark on a 9 week adventure, riding more than 4000 miles to dip my front tire into the Atlantic Ocean. In my own ritual, I will scoop up a vial of the Pacific, seal it with wax, and break the seal 9 weeks later to merge it with the Atlantic.

I did this 4 years ago, thinking it was a once in a lifetime thing. Little did I know. I will be 70 soon. If I live to beat Robert Marchand‘s age group Hour Record, I’ll have to stick around for a long time – longer than I spent at this job. I’ll probably have to start working again to be able to afford to live that long. But right now, I’m done with working.

I invite you to follow me (again, if you followed me four years ago). I plan to return to daily posts. Or maybe there will be days that I just want to go out for a post-ride beer and skip a day. I can do what I want. I’m retired. (That sounds weird.) While the route will be the same, the experience won’t be. You can read each post and, if you have time on your hands, go back and read the same day’s post from four years ago. The dates won’t match, but the days of the week will. In 2018 we started on Sunday, June 17. This time we’ll start on Sunday, June 19. You can probably figure out the math from there.

The WordPress algorithm provides links to two other posts each day that it thinks are thematically related. Yesterday’s post linked to this. Rereading it, I don’t know how anyone could think I’d still be working come June. It foreshadowed this announcement just a bit.

While I believe in retiring early and often, this was the longest I have ever been at one job. That’s why my leaving gets two posts. I wrote them at different times, not realizing when I wrote the second that I’d already done this once. There will probably be a third on my last day. Maybe the fact that I wrote two different posts to say the same thing in different ways is a sign that I’m getting old.

Let’s do the time warp again!

It was 23 years ago today that I started this job. Seems like a fitting time for an announcement.

It was about 3.5 years ago that I wrote the FAQ page for this blog. It is time for some amendments.

1) Are you going to do this again?
A: What, do you think I’m crazy? I always considered this a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Several people I traveled with have done it more than once and some are planning to do it again, so I guess it’s a reasonable question – just not of me. I’d consider a trip down the Mississippi, or in the mountains of Spain, France, or Italy; or maybe parts of this one (like Needles Highway). I don’t expect to cross the entire continent again.
Then again, I thought the Death Ride was crazy when I first heard about it. I still think Double Centuries are crazy.

Addendum April 12, 2022: Yes, I am going to do this again. On Father’s Day I will once again leave Seattle on my bike, planning to arrive in Gloucester, MA on Saturday August 20. Notice that, while I pooh-poohed the idea, I left myself an out. I guess I know myself after all these years of hanging out with me.

3) When are you going to retire?
A: I can’t answer that.

Addendum April 12, 2022: I will be retiring on Saturday, June 4. I’ll spend the next week riding every day, then a week winding down and packing up before flying to Seattle.

So I’m going back in time 4 years to ride across the USA (and a bit of Canada, if they’ll let us in by then). While it seemed nuts 3.5 years ago, it seems only fitting today. The genesis of this trip was in 1970 when I schemed to ride across the country on a BMW touring motorcycle. About 5 years later that BMW turned into a bicycle. In 1985 my neighbor tried to get me to take a leave of absence from my job to join him on a cross-country trip. He was celebrating law school graduation. I wanted to keep my job and knew my boss (his mom) would never approve a leave. In 2008 the plan to do the trip in 2018 was hatched. In 2018 I finally made the trip.

When Greg (the owner of Cycle America) announced that the 2020 coast-to-coast trip would be the last, I decided to take a couple of days off and meet the riders in Baraboo, WI with beer, and ride with them the next day. When the 2020 ride fell victim to COVID-19, Greg announced a 2022 ride. The wheels started turning. I found myself thinking about the ride more and more on my own solo rides that year. When I got hurt at work, had surgery, and came out of it in more pain than I went in, I started to wonder if I could ever do something like that again. When I realized I could, I decided I would. I have been counting down the months. With 18 months to go I started a draft of this post.

Some may think that was putting the cart before the horse. Here I was penning an announcement to you before I began the announcement to my boss. But on April 1, 23 years after I received my job offer, I let my boss know I’m retiring. Today (April 12) I announced my retirement to my co-workers. You’re next. Sorry, that’s the way the world works.

If the ride was worth waiting 48 years for, I decided it was worth doing twice. So join me again. I’ll be back to writing daily posts. You can jump back and forth in time to see how the same routes turn out on the same days 4 years apart.

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Cyclocross commute

To get to work this morning, I had to dismount and carry my bike through this downed tree. That was the easy part.

The ride home was into a 20 mph headwind with a temperature of 40 degrees (32 km/h and 4.5 degrees C), with rain driven by that wind. Since last night’s ride for fun was in ideal conditions (70 degrees, low humidity, breezy), I have nothing more to say about that.

And to think that, three years ago, I did this for fun.

This is how we looked at lunchtime of a 103 mile ride in the rain at 40 degrees F. Still smiling. You can’t see the bread bags on Ally’s feet, as she didn’t have neoprene shoe covers. And, yes, Ed was crazy (or ill-prepared) enough to be riding in shorts. (Photo from CycleAmerica Facebook page.)

Speaking of fun, Cycle America will be riding coast-to-coast again in the summer of 2022. The trip leaves from Seattle on Father’s Day and arrives in Gloucester, MA on August 20. The total cost (which includes 3 meals/day on riding days, and a place to pitch your tent or a gym to lay your sleeping bag) is $7415 until June 18 (one year before departure). Meals are on your own on rest days (one per week) and you’re on your own if you stop for espresso or beer. You can stay in motels some nights if you need a bed. That costs extra. More information at CycleAmerica.com.

Daydream

You know how, sometimes on a bike ride, your mind wanders? Some rides, you’re totally tuned into the world around you – the smells, the sights, the sounds. Wow! Listen to those spring peepers! Who knew such tiny animals could make so much sound? I hear a sandhill crane, but where is it? Wow! Way over there! It’s like the sound totally fills the sky! Look at the delicate green of those maple flowers! Hey, look! Those trees are leafing out and it’s a totally different green! Roadside asparagus! Is that an eagle? Why is that redwing blackbird dive-bombing me? Nest nearby? I smell honeysuckle! Where is it? I love the smell of new-mown grass! Is someone burning off a field? I remember the smell of burning leaves in the fall when I was a child. We don’t do that anymore – now they become mulch or compost.

Some rides, you’re totally tuned into your body and how it feels to ride. I’m one with my bike! We are perfectly matched. My legs could spin like this all day. 100 miles? Let’s go for 200! Something’s not right with my left knee…have I noticed that before? Will it go away? Oh yeah. My knee hurt before. I forgot. Feels fine now. Can I force any more air into my lungs? Are they going to burst before I reach the top of this climb? Can my heart beat any faster?

But on days like today, you just drift. Enough of your brain is tuned into riding that you stay safe, but some of it is elsewhere. I wrote of this before, how all my best ideas came when I was 13 years old, riding my bike in the pre-dawn darkness, tossing papers. Today I noticed all of my thoughts drifting to Cycle America. Don’t tell my boss or my wife any of what follows. I was thinking about the 2018 coast to coast ride. Not just the good parts, but about how the soles of my feet burned on endless days out west. I wanted to scream. (Okay, I did scream – just not when anyone was around.) At water stops I took off my shoes, doused my feet, walked around barefoot, and dreaded getting back on the bike. But I did. And I survived the day. And the ride is over. Was the agony that bad? What happens to agony once you’ve lived through it?

I thought about how I considered a coast to coast ride a once in a lifetime adventure. And that I want to do it again. Greg said he promised a 2020 ride but then might retire. I was going to meet them with a case of beer when they passed near here. The 2020 ride was canceled due to COVID-19 and Greg now promises a 2022 ride – and sent me the schedule. I was going to retire in the summer of 2023, after I turned 70. But other things (which are in a draft of a future post) have me wondering if I’ll make it that long. And this is only a year earlier. I spent 35 miles thinking about the ride – remembering and planning. (What did I bring last time that I wouldn’t bring again? What didn’t I bring that I should have; or what do I have now that I didn’t have then? Will any of the 2018 riders be back? Maybe a who’s who of prior years. Will I blog again, or just go out for a beer with the others after the day’s ride instead of sitting and writing. If I take pictures, will they be totally different? Will I need to buy some iCloud space?… ) At the end of the ride, the miles had flown by, and now I was left to think about what I had just spent the evening thinking about…

They even hang out in town now

And this is the first post in a long time that is going up right away, with no time to edit or think about whether I really want to post it.