Here we go again. In no particular order, my personal faves from 2018.
Breathing Is Good: In January, I recovered from the after effects of pulmonary embolisms. The fun included pneumonia and a collapsed right lung. I am grateful to everyone who helped me recover and kept my spirits up.
Five Hundred States: With the help of Kevin W., Michael B., Rachel C., Jeanne, and Jesse, I rode my tenth 50 States Ride in DC. The ride goes all over the city to traverse all 50 streets named for states. With healthy lungs, and an appropriately geared bike (it’s a very hilly ride), and a massive mileage base in my legs, I made it all 60-odd miles without undue distress.
The Kids Are Alright: My daughter completed the degree requirements (classes and a thesis) for her masters degree in International Dispute Resolution from Kings College in London. She’s back in DC interning at the Irish embassy, while looking to launch her salaried career. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world in Phuket, Thailand, my son completed his PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certification. Assuming his work visa is approved, he will be making money scuba diving in paradise. Good work if you can get it.
Marching for Sanity: Although I didn’t blog about it, I attended the March for Our Lives, concerning changing our gun laws, in DC. There were several hundred thousand people in attendance. I think the proliferation of guns, particularly semi-automatic weapons, in this country is insane. Somewhere along the line, our courts forgot about Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. End of screed.
Where’s My Ring?: For most of my life, the one sport that I have followed is baseball. This year’s Washington Nationals performed well below expectations. Never the less, the season still held its joys. Magic Juan came to town and did Juan things. Oh, and while I was watching the boys of summer, the boys of winter, the Washington Capitals, took the Stanley Cup, a development that cost me several hundred dollars in motels so I could watch the games as I rode across the country. And, as far as baseball is concerned, seeing the Saux win the World Series was a pretty good consolation prize.
Take Me Out to the Deluge: 2018 was the wettest year on record in DC. And don’t I know it. The C&O Canal towpath was wiped out in several sections forcing me to ride a much hillier route on the first two days of my bike tour. I also opted out of a attending a half dozen Washington Nationals baseball games to avoid rainouts, not to mention sitting through a miserable rainy game in September. Considering the fact that we had a nearly snowless winter, this new rainfall record is incredible.
Living the Dream: For most of my life, I have dreamed of riding a bike across the country. This year under the banner of the Any Road Tour, I left my home on May 22 and, on July 20, I pushed The Mule over a big sand dune and dipped its front wheel into the Pacific Ocean. With another 100 or so miles of riding to and around Portland Oregon, I rode 4,300 miles in two months. Alone. Dang.
You Meet the Darndest People: Riding across the country means you’ll interact with dozens of strangers. On my tour I met a gold miner, a jewelry maker, a portrait artist, a plant nerd, a Swiss elevator man, a family of Mexican American itinerant construction workers, two Postmistresses, an antique dealer, a woman with packages of cookies in her oven, a dozen or so east bound bike tourists, and a man who reminisced about the circus of his youth.
And See the Darndest Things: You never know what you’re going to see on a bicycle trip. I saw the Wright Brother’s Bicycle Shop, the Painted Canyon, turquoise mountain waters, a perfect beer belly, Square Butte, painted farmland in Iowa, Big Ole, and six mountain pass signs in the Rockies and the Northern Cascades. Dang.
Reconnecting: My bike tour allowed me to reconnect with old friends and meet a few other friend-ish folks. So hats off to Earl and Anne; Kathy, Russ, and Krista; Emma; Tim and Michele; Shannon, Jeff, and Tommy; and Eric. They fed me, sheltered me, and showed me their sights. When I got back to DC, I spent an afternoon with Susana to talk about my tours. And went to a happy hour and dinner with my former co-worker Jessica whose adventures in Chile (not to mention Ecuador and Argentina) inspired the heck out of me.
The Nigel Tufnel Award – Conventional Wisdom?: I rode my bike tour east to west. Many people told me this would be a big mistake because I would expose myself to endless days of soul sucking headwinds. Instead, I had tailwinds for most of the tour. The eastbound bike tourists that I met on the road were all complaining about the relentless headwinds! Although I had to climb five mountain passes in four days in the Northern Cascades of Washington state, I had a total blast flying down the mountains at 35 miles per hour. And the views were spectacular. Eastbound riders have to tackle this formidable terrain during their first week of riding. And, if you start your tour in May, you get to freeze during the descents. Have fun with that.