Back to work

Okay kids – fun’s over! It’s back to work today.

Hits and misses: Some things I tried for this trip were great ideas. Some, not so great. Here are a few reactions after the trip is over.

  • Hit: the new bike – it was light, responsive, held up well.
  • Hit: integrated brake/shift levers – nothing new to a lot of you, but I still use downtube shifters and being able to shift without moving my hands (a thumb or a finger only) and being able to shift while out of the saddle make a big difference in >4000 miles.
  • Hit: new sleeping pad (though, in the end, it could have been thicker)
  • Mixed: tent (it was roomy but it leaked and condensation was terrible)
  • Mixed: bringing a sleeping bag – it was usually too hot and when it was cold I could have just worn more clothes. A fleece blanket would probably have been enough.
  • Hit: full zip jerseys
  • Hit: zippered 3 gallon Hefty bags – one for jerseys and gloves, one for shorts and socks, one for rainwear, one for cold weather wear, etc. (regular clothes, too.) You can squeeze out all the air and have less bulk and keep everything dry.
  • Miss: jumbo Ziploc bags – they were hard to seal, leaked, and tore easily.
  • Hit: new zip tie-like bike locks – these were an impulse buy at a sale and were great for quick lock-ups at a coffee shop. They fit in an under-saddle bag and will at least stop impulse thieves and slow down other thieves.
  • Miss: Sigma bike computer – a switch quit for about a month mid-trip (then started working again); went through six batteries (3 each for wheel sensor and computer), complicated programming.
  • Hit: Nulaxy keyboard – this made typing way easier and faster than a phone keyboard and takes less space than a tablet (plus costs hundreds of dollars less than a tablet).
  • Hit: bringing clothesline and clothespins
  • Hit: bringing only sandals and bike shoes – I had no need for “real” shoes
  • Hit: CO2 cartridges – great for emergency on-the-road inflation after a flat (“puncture” to the Brits in the audience)
  • Hit:  snack bag as waterproof iPhone holder
  • Hit: Velcro straps under saddle bag to hold extra stuff – this was an improvisation. My sleeping pad came with straps and a nylon sack. The straps were superfluous but were great to fasten rain gear under my saddle bag, or in case of an impulse purchase.
  • Hit: Clif shot bloks – handy way to get electrolytes when I ran out of Cytomax (lighter and easier to carry, too). Before a climb I would stick one between teeth and gum and let it slowly dissolve. Also helped with dry mouth in arid regions. Sometimes it is hard to breathe and swallow at the same time (long steep climbs at altitude). These helped.
  • Miss: Gatorade – I’ve already talked about that.
  • Miss: Greg not securing Wi-Fi passwords for all overnights
  • Mixed: tools, parts, and warm clothes I didn’t need – all stuff I might bring anyway, as insurance.
  • Hit: solar charger. I usually had access to electricity to charge the phone but this sure came in handy to keep a back-up battery charged at all times. 

    Coming soon: My top ten and bottom ten lists (good days and bad, good weeks and bad). Neither list will necessarily contain ten items.

    And now, because I haven’t worked it in before, because I mentioned truffles yesterday, and because it is one of the under-appreciated Beatles songs:

     

     

     

     

Back in the US, back in the US, back…

We’ve had The Beatles doing Dylan back in South Dakota (Rocky Raccoon). Now it’s time for The Beatles doing The Beach Boys.

We’re on our penultimate week in this journey. That is sometimes hard to believe.

It was 75 degrees at 5:30 AM. It did not get cooler as the day went on. Many campers had fires going all day Sunday. Must be some primitive urge, as I could see no good reason to have a campfire on a 95 degree day, especially during the daylight hours. The air was thick with smoke.

We started the day by crossing the Rainbow Bridge from Canada back to the US. While looking back from the falls I saw a structure that looked suspiciously like the Space Needle. Rather than looking it up, I’ll ask if any of you know what it is.

Back in the US we ran into a stretch of horrendous road awaiting repaving. I think I accumulated several years worth of head trauma from the shaking.

 

The first 15-20 miles were urban riding, then mixed urban/suburban riding, suburban/small town (where the suburbs of one town bled into the next). Finally after 50 miles we got into the country with mixed farmland and forest. At mile 58 I heard a train as I approached a crossing. I was across in plenty of time but knew we would cross those tracks again in a few miles. I tried racing the train but its route was much more direct than mine – enough so that I didn’t have to wait; it was already through the crossing.

We had two detours after cue sheets were passed out last night, so we followed arrows on the pavement and not the cue sheet. Mileage was thus unknown until we arrived at SUNY-Geneseo.

We arrived to a darkening sky. Later riders were hit by a thunderstorm. So far here there has been rumbling and a few drops.

Lest any of you think I am writing this in my parents’ basement and faking the photos, check out the Cycle America Facebook page for actual photos of me in various places across the country. Plus, my parents have been dead for years.

A Day in the Life/Jackson Hole

Every job has its routines. The measure of whether you like your work is more how you deal with the routine than how you deal with the exciting stuff.

This life has its own routines. I awake at 5 most days, with my alarm being Schubert’s Sonata for Arpeggione and Piano, as performed by Mikko Rankin-Utevsky on viola (this excerpt has no piano).

Before getting out of my sleeping bag I check the weather and figure out what to wear. That takes longer than it does for my usual job. What I laid out the night before may be the base layer, not everything.

  1. Check the weather, figure out what to wear today. Get out of sleeping and get dressed.
  2. Take down the tent. Pack up my gear. Carry it to the trailer.
  3. Fill water bottles and tires.
  4. Load the trailer (load time set by the trail boss).
  5. Go to breakfast. We generally start riding between 7:00 and 7:30; possibly earlier on long days.
  6. Ride 1/4 of the route and stop for water; about five minutes.
  7. Ride the next quarter of the route and stop for lunch; about 30 minutes.
  8. Ride the third quarter and stop for water again.
  9. Ride to the end, text my wife to tell her I arrived, find my gear bags and/or unload the trailer, lay out tent and sleeping bag to dry, pitch tent when dry. Set out solar charger (clips to tent poles) to charge backup battery for phone. I generally finish riding between 2:00 and 3:00.
  10. Take a shower, wash today’s riding clothes, put up clothes line, hang clothes to dry.
  11. Write today’s blog entry. Download mail, check messages.
  12. Check out the town or rest until dinner.
  13. Eat dinner, go to tonight’s pre-ride meeting for tomorrow.
  14. Either find an outlet and charge phone, or charge it while I sleep, from the battery.
  15. Read, hang out, get ready for bed. Set out tomorrow’s riding and post-ride clothes. (In reality, I have had very little time to read. The e-books from the library arrive at very different times than expected, and are due before I read them.)
  16. Go to sleep and get ready to start the whole process again tomorrow.

Jackson

It is a day off. I took down my laundry, as there is a parent event for the high school leadership school currently in progress, and they want the place to look pretty.

Then I rode into Jackson for breakfast at a local coffee roaster and wandered around town.

Jackson has a quaint old western town section with false fronts and wooden sidewalks; this part of town leans toward expensive shops. There was a fur store. A mannequin in the display window modeled a tiny fur bikini. I could not bear to take a picture. The archways into the town square are made of shed elk antlers.

I walked beyond there, to where the folks who live and work here live – in trailers and manufactured housing.F1923564-4996-4B80-87BB-03EAACDF12C8

There is a park with climbing walls, and a ski hill right on the edge of town – from a few blocks away it looks like you’d ski right onto the streets.

I found a cafe with the 4 basic food groups – chocolate, pastries, espresso, and gelato.

Perusing next week’s ride profile, it looks like the hard part starts now; a couple of passes over 9000 feet, one of which is part of tomorrow’s 100 miles.

We stay in Wyoming for the whole week and actually ride mostly west-to-east;)

Before leaving Jackson, I need to put in a word about the Teton Science Center, where we are staying. It is an incredible facility. To learn more about their programs, see their website.

Roll up!

We hit the road today!

Enough talk! Let’s ride!

But if you need another fix of the Beatles (in phenomenal cover versions), visit: https://www.youtube.com/user/AllYouNeedIsLub

OK, I gotta add to an earlier post about 1968. We were discussing the Mexico City Olympics and the fact that John Carlos and Tommie Smith were kicked off the US Olympic team and sent home after winning gold and bronze. As Paul Harvey used to say, “here’s the rest of the story”, thanks to Dave Zirin in the Progressive.

The silver medalist was Australian Peter Norman. He wore a button reading “Olympic Project for Human Rights” on the podium that day, standing in solidarity with the two black athletes with whom he shared that podium.

He was ostracized in Australia and left off the next Olympic team. When San Jose State University erected a statue to Carlos and Smith, they left the silver medal spot empty. Carlos said he would have nothing to do with the statue if it did not honor Norman. Norman then told him that the spot was left empty at his (Norman’s) request so visitors “can climb the statue and stand where I stood and feel what it felt for me to be a part of history.”

When he died in 2006, Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at his funeral. And that’s the rest of the story. Sorry, no time to add links. Time to check out of the hotel and meet the Cycle America gang.

Here is our route for week one.

We’re in Everett, Washington.The mountains are in sight. Sunday morning we will dip our tires in the Pacific. (I will also seal up a vial of Pacific Ocean water to take across the country. When we ceremoniously dip our tires in the Atlantic, I will add the Pacific water to the Atlantic.) I am wearing a shirt given to me by Curtis to honor his memory. For those who haven’t read that post, he was my riding partner for my last supported tour.

My bike arrived safely. (It came out in the Cycle America trailer.) I took it for a short ride this afternoon. It goes, it stops, it shifts. The motor seems a little weak.

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