Some last thoughts and preparations before bike trek begins
Published 12:00 am Friday, June 7, 2013
My big bicycle trip is almost ready to start. Funny thing is that months ago, I thought it was so far away. But, as always, time has flown by.
My bike is at the bike shop in Astoria, Ore., and was being reassembled on Thursday. My equipment, at least most of it, is waiting at the Lamplighter Motel in Astoria. My flight leaves very early on Sunday from Spartanburg, S.C., and I will arrive in Portland, Ore., late that same morning. Total non-stop flight time is seven hours. Later that day, an Amtrak bus will get me to Astoria by about 8:30 p.m. Pacific Time (11:30 p.m. here).
I will have total travel time of 20 hours that day. So much for a well-rested start.
On Monday, the ride will start. I will be at Bikes and Beyond in Astoria when they open at 10, let them make sure that the bike is ready, and then hit the road. It will make for a shorter day than most, but I realized today that a few hours invested to make sure the bike is adjusted and set for 4,200 miles will be worthwhile. As the bike mechanic told me today, “You don’t want to leave out of here early with something not right!”
All week, I have been counting down the days and working to get a ton of details done, both for the trip and other projects that need completing here. As I drive around, I imagine how steep the Rockies will be and how it will be to tackle those hills on a loaded bike. I shouldn’t call them hills because they are full-fledged mountains. There is no way to train for that terrain here.
Regardless, there is a big part of the world out there that I haven’t seen, and there will be some less of it by the time this trip is over. Since Sarah Campbell’s story on my trip, I have heard from people as far away as California and Illinois. Maybe I will have a better perspective on just how big America is, but my biggest goal is to meet people along the way and hear their stories.
I am carrying about 25 pounds of stuff, not counting water and snacks. Total average weight will be about 30-33 pounds. Clothes for the cold in the high Rockies, plus clothes for the heat of the plains, will be riding along. There are some tools, a tent, a 35-degree sleeping bag and a few personal items.
My communications back to the Post will be done on an iPad Mini. Photos will be made with it, too. I promise three to four updates per week. I will update my ‘Gotta Run’ blog found at salisburypost.com/gotta-run .
Food will consist of whatever I can find. I should burn over 7,000 calories a day. In fact, it is hard to eat that much, but it has to be done. The bike will be carrying several water bottles. One stretch through the Rockies will be a ride of 123 miles without any services, meaning that any water and food will have to ride with me. Based on terrain, that is a least two days’ ride. I am already craving the new 50-cent Burger King ice cream cones.
The bike is a Surly Long Haul Trucker, perfect for this type of ride. It is very well made, and prepared for the rigors of a long trip. I’ll be prepared to fix a flat or make minor repairs, and there will be bike shops along the way.
The trip is a little daunting, but it is way more exciting. For 10 weeks, I will live out of those two large saddlebags on the bike called panniers. I won’t drive, and I will watch very little TV. Some things that I now do every day won’t happen at all over the length of the trip. But something tells me that none of those things will matter much.
Traveling has always been great fun for me, and I find things amazing that others don’t. This trip will take me to new places each day, meeting new people. If asked, I will share my concern for childhood obesity and tell a little bit about why I am on this trip. But truth be known, chances are that I will be learning more about that myself along the way.
David Freeze is a freelance writer, columnist and blogger.