A final post to share a few last thoughts……
First I’d like to thank our son Evan once again for setting up this website and for the ongoing “tech service” during the course of the ride. A great job son! This easy to use website made the entire sharing process of the ride possible. Without it I would have just been talking to myself as I rode along……no blogs / no pictures.
Some thoughts on the ride itself………..
– We inhabit a very beautiful planet. The sights, sounds and smells were so enjoyable each day, from the enormity of snow-capped Mt. Hood, to the views of the Tetons to the tiniest flower along the roadside. Let’s make SURE we preserve it in top shape for our grandchildren and theirs. To do otherwise would be very selfish.
– The collective human spirit is strong. The riding group came from so many different countries, states, educational and economic backgrounds and with a strong diversity of personalities. All we had in common was a love of cycling and a goal of getting across the country safely. In addition we were in an environment that stressed us both physically and mentally. In spite of this we formed a cohesive group with strong bonds, looked out for each other in so many different ways and enjoyed our time together. Our own cycling family if you will. Humans are very good at adapting to survive and flourish.
– The individual human spirit is strong. In addition to tackling the miles and mountains, I watched riders ride with artificial hips, artificial knees, severe bruising of hips and shoulders as well as road rash from falls and crashes. Riders endured bad colds, sick stomachs, heart conditions, multiple sclerosis and circulatory issues that required them to wear special knee socks. Hardly a complaint to be heard. They just kept riding until they reached their goal. My admiration and respect goes out to all.
– Best and worst. The best part of the tour were the hours on the bike and the great scenery. Riding is just plain enjoyable, whether alone or in a pace line. The worst part for me was that traveling salesman feeling; a new hotel every night; packing and unpacking; plastic cups in plastic wrappers; the same breakfast selections every morning; early wake-up calls etc. etc. The joy and fun of the rides made enduring the latter part pretty easy though.
– America by Bicycle (ABB). I can highly recommend ABB if you are considering a cross country or regional ride. This is not the Cadillac ride. No marble showers, personal chefs and concierge service… But that’s not what most are looking for. They are professional, very competent, make sure things go smoothly and are diligently concerned about your safety. They’ve been doing this for over 20 years. (www.americabybicycle.com).
– Can you complete a cross-country ride ? If you love riding a bicycle, have developed good bike handling skills, are comfortable riding in pace lines, train properly and ride safely ……..ANY reasonably fit person in good health can complete a cross country ride. It’s not cheap and takes a good deal of preparation and effort but is well worth it in my opinion.
For riding techies (others can ignore)…………
– I’ve found you really train ahead of time to ride the first two weeks of the tour. Riding the first two weeks of the tour itself then trains you for the rest of the ride. If you can make it over the continental divide on day 16 of this ride you are good to go, barring a crash or health issue. The rest is more mental than physical. By day 16 your body is in good enough shape to handle the physical load of what’s to come.
– You need to train for distance and climbs. You need to be comfortable riding a century and even back to back centuries and be able to finish strong. This only requires that you put in the miles on your home training rides in the 4 to 6 months leading up to the ride. There can be no cutting of corners here.
– For climbing I believe it is a matter of your threshold watts and the gearing on your bike. Threshold watts is the average power output (in watts) that you can maintain over at least 20 minutes on a bike without going anaerobic. You can try this on the spinning bike at your neighborhood fitness center to find out your TW and track your improvement. To improve TW requires training on hills repeatedly, riding hard into a headwind, riding at high resistance on a trainer or some combination of all three.
– In my opinion if you are a rider in the 170-190 lb range you’ll need a threshold watt level of at least 210-220 watts along with a compact chainset (50 & 34 teeth) coupled with an 11-32 teeth rear cassette to confidently make it up the two or three most challenging climbs. If you are above this weight range or have lower power output you can still make it up the climbs but may want to consider a triple chainring and / or mountain bike gearing on the rear.
– Pace line riding really helps in windy conditions as all riders know, but you have to pick your riding partners VERY carefully. I spent the first 7 riding days of the tour assessing the other riders; separating the poor riders and risk takers from the steady, safe and reliable riders. With this plus very attentive riding and some good luck, I was able to keep the rubber side down the whole way. Being reliable and predictable in your riding is a very desirable quality on these long tours.
Here’s wishing you good health and great rides !