0 miles, 0 feet climbed
After 3 years, here’s the Epilogue I promised back in 2019 at the end of the America By Bicycle America North tour:
If I had profound thoughts to share, I’ve forgotten them. I do believe that the small changes to the route were good–getting off the highway between Astoria and St. Helens on day 1 and the diversion through the Badlands in South Dakota. On the other hand, the narrow stretch of Highway 26 north of the Warm Springs casino, avoided in 2004, was nasty, with narrow or no shoulders and kamikaze logging trucks. The routing the next day between Madras and Prineville wasn’t much better for truck traffic on narrow roads. I hope that some money is freed to maintain the Elroy-Sparta bike trail, a highlight from 2004 and a muddy slog this time.
What have I been doing since? Retiree stuff, skiing, golf, a little around the house. Researching sports cars–you can postpone a mid-life crisis only so long.
In 2020, I registered for the ABB Mississippi ride. You might guess that the pandemic killed that ride but a lack of enough registrants got to it first. It was part of an epic trip for me: Fly to Chicago for a week-long Lyric Opera Ring Cycle, then to New Orleans to start the ride, then fly from Minneapolis to Los Angeles to hear Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic perform Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder. All kaput due to the pandemic.
For 2021, I registered for the ABB West ride. The pandemic caused it to be cancelled too, not for an inability to ride but because of another lack of sufficient interest.
So now, in 2022, I am set for another cross-country ride, this time from Los Angeles to Boston; LAX-BOS for you frequent flyers. ABB does this ride, but at at a 32-day pace averaging 111 miles per day, a bit much for my taste. Crossroads Cycling does it in 48 days at a leisurely 79 miles per day. ABB is also taking this year off to regroup after the unexpected death of their owner last year; I hope to join them for the West ride next year.
On Thursday, May 5th, I flew down to the LA area, visited my mother and sister, and mostly reassembled my bike at their house. After rush hour, I drove over to the start hotel in El Segundo. Friday morning, I installed the chain and sorted out the proper orientation of the headset bearings (future self–the bevels face each other). The bike passed its safety inspection and I dialed in the shifting and seat height on a short afternoon ride. During that ride I stumbled upon an overlook for LAX and was able to watch an Emirates Airbus A380 taxi and take off, though from the runways on the other side of the airport. There was a Quantas A380 parked at a maintenance hanger as well. Someday I want to fly somewhere far away on one of those behemoths.
One big adjustment I’ve had to make for this tour is in what I bring. ABB had a 50 lb luggage weight limit. Crossroads has a 30 lb limit. Those 20 pounds make a big difference. No 3 lb laptops (my mini laptop is 1 lb). Careful selection of items was necessary. The two small-medium sized duffels they give us weigh about a pound each. My 1 lb water filter was out, but I did find another at REI that weighs about 1/4 pound. You’ll see me clean shaven in photos because the weight budget didn’t allow for my 1/2 lb beard trimmer. My casual shoes and flip flops were chosen after consulting with my kitchen scale! For my loofah on a stick, I went to the trouble of drilling holes in the wooden handle to save some weight. (In answer to your followup question–how much weight did I save–I didn’t check. Sorry. I like to think that casual indifference makes this not excessive at all.)
The last addition to my bag of tricks is a Garmin bike radar. It sits under my seat and looks behind me. When it sees a vehicle or even a person catching up to me, it sends a signal to my bike computer. The computer then beeps and shows their position relative to me along the left side of the screen, looking like little bugs crawling from bottom to top. The beeps can be turned off, which may be the polite thing to do when riding in a group; we’ll see. I’ve only had it for about two weeks but it has been spot-on accurate. I don’t have to keep checking my mirror and am never startled by overtaking cars. There are false positives when riding a frontage road alongside a highway or a bike path along a roadway, a small price to pay.
One addition I did not make is to replace my Wahoo Elemnt Bolt bike computer with the next generation version, confusingly given the same product name, though reviewers are generally appending “V2” to distinguish it. The big advantage that V2 offers is a color display over the original’s black and white. Color is used mostly for maps, though, making them in some ways more readable (major roads and highways are orange, water is blue) and in some ways less so (minor roads are thinner black lines). REI wouldn’t let me try it out in the store because you have to go through a setup routine using a phone so I bought one and used it on a couple of rides. All in all, I did not find the display to be sufficiently improved to justify spending $300 when I already have the perfectly usable “V1.” V1 is no longer sold so, if you need one, V2 is a worthy candidate. One of its best features of either version is that you set up the screens with your phone rather than on the unit itself.
Although Crossroads numbers today as “Day 1,” our ride begins Sunday morning (Day 2). This afternoon is orientation. I forgot to ask how many riders we have; stay tuned for that. I did run into somebody I rode with on the 2019 North tour–Bob I-forget-his-last-name. He said I was the first person he recognized from before; perhaps there will be more.
So, with my new Medicare card in hand (telemarketers, you can quit calling and thanks for all the “help”) I sally forth to Boston, with many recovery milkshakes and morning pastries to come in between.