I confess to be dealing with sporadic pre-tour anxiety. I can feel it welling up inside. And with it comes the little voice of depression. Welcome to the party, old friends.
For the last few days I have been feeling worn out physically. Doubts about my physical ability to ride 4,000 miles started creeping in. Time to apply exercise therapy.
Before jumping on Little Nellie, I raised the saddle about 1/8th of an inch. You’d think this wouldn’t matter much but it does. It felt like a new bike. It felt like it fit me perfectly. And off I went down the road effortlessly. After 7 1/2 miles I arrived at the gym. It was crowded, so I used the machines as they came open instead of following my usual boring routine. When I was done I felt a little queasy. This is a good sign. It means I pushed myself beyond my comfort zone. I’m going to need that somewhere around the middle of North Dakota.
After the gym, I went for an easy 18 1/2 mile ride. It felt great, my first enjoyable ride in days. It occurred to me that the arm strength I have developed over the past few months at the gym will vanish by about the time I cross into Ohio on my tour. This is not a bad thing. I need to take weight off the engine before I reach the big mountains out west. If history is a guide, I’ll weigh about 20 pounds less when I reach Montana.
After the ride, I signed up for an acupuncture session at the local spa. The benefits of my physical therapy have reached a plateau. My left arm now has a normal range of motion but I still have pains when I move it in certain ways. So it’s time to shake things up a bit. I had the interesting thought that doing acupuncture while on blood thinners could be rather colorful.
After watching the Nats crush the Giants on TV, I did some further research on the alternate route I am considering between Missoula and the coast. The stretch from Missoula in the lower right through the Flathead Reservation and the Coeur D’Alene National Forest is about 190 miles along Highway 200. It’s a scenic byway with two big climbs and many miles of riding along the Flathead River. What I know is this is a two-land highway with some stretches lacking a paved shoulder. There will be logging trucks and other big metal things to deal with, but I can’t imagine it can be any more intimidating that my route through South Carolina and Georgia last fall.
Once I reach Sandpoint, Idaho, I can pick up the last segment of the Adventure Cycling Northern Tier route. The good news is I will have all kinds of information about services. The bad news is that there are several mountain passes that may kill me. I have no experience whatsoever with riding a bike up honest to god mountains. Eek.
Riding up these mountains will be no big deal once I am doing the business of actually riding. These things tend to get cut down to size when you experience them first hand. It’s a bit like painting the peak of the exterior of my house. The 24-foot ladder looked scary as hell from the ground, but once I was at the top with my brush and can all I saw was the siding in front of me. My mind had cut the daunting 18 foot elevation of the side of the house down to a four-foot-by-four-foot chunk. As long as I didn’t do something stupid, I was perfectly safe. The mountains are high, but I am slow and I have all damned day to get over them. Lord willin’ and my blood don’t clot.
I figure the total distance will be about 650 miles. That’s about 11 days, factoring in a couple of short mileage days for climbing.