The weather has been pretty mild these past few days, which gave me a chance to train almost as much as I would have liked. I have not done any long shakedown rides (longest ride so far: 90 miles); my training has been based on speed and pace rather than distance. I hope that with strong legs I will be able to build stamina as I go.
I have been thinking about equipment and on a road bike this is a no brainer. I will carry with me as little as possible. You would be amazed at how few items I will have on the trip. What I don’t carry from Washington DC I will buy along the way, like warm clothes for the cold temperature of the mountains.
Cycling from one coast of the US to the other is a unique adventure. This is stating the obvious of course. But everything that one would come to expect from an adventure of this magnitude more or less comes pass. I urge anyone who has a tingle of restlessness or a little curiosity brewing inside, to lose themselves in the enormity of the country. What fascinates me about the US is not only the geographical space but also the social landscape which offers unique perspectives on life. When life cannot provide answers, the road will.And then there is the bike. The bike has no windshield, there’s no protection, and it is a face-to-face encounter with the world. On the bicycle you are exposed to anything. On the bicycle, life is absorbed through the senses and nothing is filtered or adulterated. On the bicycle, if it rains or it if gets cold you can’t roll up the window, you just have to buckle down and take it. On the bicycle, to make it safely to your destination, you must improvise. My favorite days are the tough ones: when I end the day with dust in my mouth and ears, with the skin on my neck and legs burning hot from hours of lovemaking with America. This is what traveling by bicycle is to me: lovemaking with the country in its purest and most sincere form; a skin to skin contact that cannot be had otherwise. But to do that you have to exit your comfort zone, you have to suffer a little. You’ve got to leave stuff behind.
I'm not worried about the ridiculously steep hills, the heat and humidity, the angry and inbred dogs, the long mountain passes, or the threat of being run over by a distracted driver. I can handle the pain, the mechanical problems, the long days in the saddle, the blisters in weird places, the ridiculous tan lines, the month-long numbness in my toes or the mountain weather. I am just really worried about one thing: the wind. If you are not a cyclist you will never understand what a headwind really is.
So here’s a few ground rules which I tend to follow on and off the saddle.Rule number 1: if you like the water, go for a swim
Rule number 2: Wear sunscreen, you need protection.
Rule number 3: Don’t take things too seriously, only the headwind is a serious thing.