Preparations for the tour continue. I heard from Mark of the team of Mark and Corey yesterday. He said we’ll see each other in 5 1/2 weeks “hopefully”.
A lot can happen in 5 1/2 weeks. And a lot can happen during a bike tour. I’ve been very lucky so far on the usual bad stuff like crashes, tornados, snow, robberies, and such. Of more immediate concern, of course, is Covid.
I’ve been using cloth masks since the start of the pandemic. I’ve also been careful to avoid enclosed spaces and crowds. Last night I took my wife out for dinner where we ate inside.
Despite a few exceptions such as this dinner, I’ve been a virtual hermit during the pandemic. As far as I know I haven’t contacted Covid yet. (Nor has my wife or daughter.) One interesting benefit of this isolation is that I also have had almost no other illnesses for two years. And I’ve learned that masking is a pretty effective way to avoid pollen-related allergy symptoms. (The DC area is particularly brutal for pollen sufferers.)
The tour will take away from my DC area bubble where people are still using masks to a significant extent. In the last few months mask usage even here tree has declined. And Covid cases are on the rise once again.
I’m heading into areas where mask usage is low. I intend to continue masking because a Covid infection could be disasterous. I imagine having breathing difficulties at 9,000 feet without a hospital anywhere nearby. (Hello, Wyoming!) I decided to buy a couple of N95 masks as a precaution.
I rode to the drug store and began an aisle-by-aisle search. I could only find cheap disposable cloth masks on display. Discouraged I started to leave the store when a message came over the store PA system. “Customers, you can get free N95 masks at the check out. Three per customer.” The check out clerk happened to be standing nearby so I asked him for some. He led me instead to a large stack of cardboard boxes in the entryway of the store. I had walked past them without a glance on the way in.
The boxes were filled with large bunches of disposable N95 masks in plastic bags. I was about to take three when the clerk said “Here. take a bag. Give them out to your friends.” I was flabbergasted. I came home with about 25 masks. I tried one on. These babies rock. They fit tight to your face and they are not at all restrictive of breathing. They are a bit awkward to wear so I expect I’ll only use them in hotels and food stores.
I am down to only a handful of tasks.
- Acquire new camp towel (old one is nasty and small)
- Buy a small squeeze bottle for my liquid soap (so I can carry 8 ounces instead of 16)
- Test my panniers for leaks. Patch with duct tape when necessary.
- Put my bike rack on our SUV to make sure it will carry my bike without issues
- Reconfigure The Mule and do a fully loaded test ride around the neighborhood.