Rain, Rest, Motivation, and Maps

Last night I took 2 ibuprofen PMs (ibuprofen with a sedative) to make sure my wonky left knee didn’t wake me. It worked. I overslept Friday Coffee Club.  This was pretty convenient because I would have ridden 15 miles to DC in a cold rain.

I needed the rest. I’ve been pretty disappointed with my body this winter. Sore knee, shoulder, hip, achy back,…., I want my mommie! Self pity won’t get my act together but exercises, new walking shoes, and riding my bike, alternating hard and easy days, will. So, for the last seven days, I rode 207 miles, mostly on my Cross Check. And I did a couple yoga torture sessions, a weight session, and two foam roller super six sessions. Each day included specific stretches for my iliotibial bands in hopes my left hip and knee will heal themselves.

Now that my body is starting to come around, I need to work on my brain. Bike rides and daily meditation are not getting it done. Two things happened the other day that should help. First, the maps for the middle part of my bike tour arrived. They span the gap between Pueblo, Colorado and South Lake Tahoe, California.  The thought of riding this section of the country is intimidating. I will sit down in the next day or three and do a day by day itinerary in the hopes of getting enthused.

The other thing that happened is I stumbled on a video blog about a coast to coast bike tour. Ryan and Ali are two film making fitness people who fell in love. Having been together only three months, Ryan didn’t want to ride across the country solo so Aly agreed to join him, despite her inexperience at bike touring. Being obviously smitten with each other they decided to interview people along the way and ask them the secret to maintaining their relationships with their partners. They called their tour LoveCycles.

To document the trip, Ryan made 37 videos, each about 20 minutes long. To be honest I found the love interviews a bit boring after a while, but the parts documenting the tour are amazing.  He even used drones to capture the spectacular landscapes and the two of them riding through them.

I’ve watched the first twenty videos. I was especially enthused by the first two that documented the Oregon beginning of their trip from Fort Stevens State Park (where I dipped my front wheel in the Pacific last summer) to Portland (where my trip ended).

Their ride through Washington State, eastern Oregon, Nebraska, and Wyoming is really beautiful. So if you want to get a sense of what bike touring is like out West, check their videos out.

There are a few things about their tour that differ from mine. First, they made up their route as they went whereas I use Adventure Cycling maps. It turns out the Google isn’t the best bicycle touring router. Yeah, well. On the plus side, they received great route advice from people along the way.

They also traveled with four panniers between them. How the hell they managed to do this and carry video equipment is beyond me. They each brought about a third the clothes that I do, for a start. Their two-person tent is about half the size (and weight) of mine. They have nothing on their rear racks and no fenders. So their bikes were considerably less heavy than mine. And their engines, lacking belly fat and boobage, were much lighter. (For what it’s worth, my father’s genome provided me with a competitively compact ass.)

People often ask me how I managed to ride across the country alone. After watching these videos you’ll see that spending 24/7 with someone under stressful conditions can be trying. (Much of the stress happens off camera, but they make it clear that the trip wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns.) After over 2,000 miles, I actually welcomed Martin’s fitful companionship as I rode through North Dakota, Montana, and Washington. It added variety to the proceedings. It’s a good thing he’s a nice person though. In general, however, solitude works for me.

So it’s back to the videos, only 17 more to go, then a big time bike planning and itinerary session.

Enjoy the rain.

 

Marching like a sloth

Somehow I’ve managed to ride 1,741 miles so far this year. Last year, while recovering from a collapsed lung and pulmonary embolisms I rode 1,954 miles. Some of the shortfall is the result of going to London in January, but the rest is due to lethargy.  I feel as if I’ve eaten 1,741 doughnuts. On the plus side, I have managed to recover from two or three weeks of mysterious body aches and pains thanks to switching from Little Nellie to standard size bicycles and buying new walking shoes with a ton of cushioning.

I rode 771 miles in March, 506 on my Surly Cross Check. I can tell that I am sick of cold weather riding because even 45 degrees seems intolerable.

My longest ride was 45.5 miles on The Mule. My most spiritually fulfilling ride was Saturday’s ride to Nats Park to see my first baseball game of the year.

April promises more baseball games, a couple of family birthdays, tour planning, and numerous adulting tasks. (It looks like we need to replace the roof, one of our cars, and a 29-year old sump pump. The sucking sound you hear is coming from my bank account.)

And it’s time to start doing long rides.

Getting Back in Shape

My body has had a tough winter. For a few weeks I was really falling apart. I couldn’t stand up straight. I walked with a pronounced limp with pain in my left knee and hip.

Setting Aside Little Nellie

It occurred to me that my back pain was probably caused by the impact shocks I get while riding Little Nellie. Those little wheels don’t absorb much of the hit from countless tree roots on the Mount Vernon Trail. (The National Park Service is starved for money and their maintenance has really gone south in the last two or three years.)

I switched first to The Mule, then to my Cross Check, both of which have normal sized wheels (700c x 35 for the bike nerds). My back responded almost instantly to the softer ride on The Mule. When I switched the Cross Check some new back and knee problems cropped up. I re-measured the seat height and the distance from the saddle to the handlebars. The seat was about 1/2 inch higher than The Mule’s. After I adjusted it, I took off. The Cross Check’s bigger gears were just what my legs needed. I feel like my old self again.

I rode it to Friday Coffee Club today. The strong, persistent tailwind made me feel like a bike god. The ride home was a bit challenging but I actually enjoyed fighting the wind. I am back to my old commuting mileages. My last 8 days were: 30, 23.5, 45.5, 28, 31, 32, 32, and 30 miles (252 total). A couple more weeks like that should put me in decent touring shape.

Cross Check at Dyke Marsh
The Cross Check at Dyke Marsh on the Mount Vernon Trail

 

Working Out Off the Bike

I am also doing on alternate days: yoga, weight lifting, and physical therapy exercises including some with a foam roller. I don’t much care for any of these but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Shopping

My pre-tour shopping spree has begun. I’ve bought mountain bike shorts, glasses (clear and polarized, both progressive for map reading while on the bike), Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, Croakies, Koolstop brake pads, and a combination lock. (I am trading off weight for some security but I can’t recall ever having someone try to steal The Mule while on tour.)

The other night I attended a presentation by Jim Sayer, the Executive Director of  Adventure Cycling. Adventure Cycling makes the maps that I use. Jim’s presentation really helped get my head back in the game. Jim talked up La Route Verte, the bike touring network in Quebec. This is definitely going on my to do list. The website is amazing. (And it’s in both English and French, of course.) I need to do a key word search for “black flies” though.

And just to add to the preparations, spring arrived in DC. It may be temporary but two 70 degree days are just the tonic. I rode in shorts and a t-shirt today and it was bliss.

 

 

 

Shopping

Every bike tour uses up things. I had three pairs of bike shorts during my last tour. One pair were a bit snug at the start of the tour. I didn’t much like them. I ended up shrinking into them over the first half of the ride. By the time I reached the west coast they were my favorites. After 4,300 miles, they hung on my hips. Sadly the nose of my saddle tore the stitching out of the front. They died a hero.

My gloves wore out. I wore them every day. They were just shreds of fabric at the end. They were old school, mesh gloves with no padding in the palm. I could tell I needed more cushioning when the top of my right middle finger went numb.

With these things in mind, I have made a list of stuff to acquire for this year’s tour:

  • Shorts. I learned today that it is a little early to be shopping for bike shorts.
  • New glasses, both sunglasses and clear, with progressive lenses. This will help immensely with map reading on the go. I bought these yesterday.
  • Croakies (the thingies that holds your eyeglasses on your head). Acquired at the optician yesterday.
  • Headsweat. The one I liked was last seen hanging on a shower rod in a motel somewhere west of the Ohio River
  • Adventure Cycling maps. All I need to do is commit to a route. Derp.
  • A new bag and map case for my handlebars. My old map case was help together with packing tape from the post office. The new ones won’t work on my 15-year-old bag.
  • Tires. The Mule’s current Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires have over 5,000 miles on them. I’m confident they have another one or two thousand miles on them. That’s not enough though. My baby needs new shoes.
  • New Koolstop brake pads. My brake pads have been on the bike for two years. It would be nice to be able to stop now and then.
  • Gloves.
  • Water filter. I have never used one but something tells me that way out west I may need one.
  • Health. I am waiting to see if the cortisone shot I had fixes my left rotator cuff. So far, the spasms of acute pain have been dialed down to mild, occasional discomfort after less than a week. I am encouraged. I seem to be over all the colds and body aches that plagued me this winter.
  • A lighter motor. Alas, I have gained quite a bit of weight since last summer. I am confident that warmer weather and a few 200-mile weeks will do the trick.
  • Motivation. Cold March weather is sucking the enthusiasm out of me. Fortunately, two things are coming in the days ahead. On Sunday, temperatures will rise into the 60s. Next Wednesday, I am going to Adventure Cycling’s get together in DC.
  • Train ticket: I need to get to Chicago if I am riding Route 66.

 

 

 

 

 

Martin’s Every Road Tour

I met Martin Arnold in the Honey Pot in Gackle, North Dakota. Actually, I woke him up after midnight. Martin had begun his bike tour two months before mine in Brunnen, Switzerland.

For the next month we met time and again as we both made our way to Anacortes, Washington. Martin had a video camera and has made this edited account of his ride. The section of his ride in Europe is new to me. Although we didn’t see each other, our routes actually overlapped somewhat from DC to Indiana and again from Minneapolis to Gackle.

I got a good laugh out of the pictures from the Northern Cascades in Washington state. He’s going fast one second then crawling the next. Just as I remember it. Except that the crawling lasted all morning and the speedy descents lasted a few blissful hours in the afternoon.

At the end of the video is his blog address. The blog is in German but contains many more pictures including one of the two of us when we briefly rode together near Colville National Forest.

 

Coffeenuering with Susana

I met Susana several years ago at a get together in Meridian Hill Park. Although I’ve talked to her only a few times, it quickly became apparent me that she’s about as kind a human being as you could find. Earlier this year she didn’t hesitate to meet with my friend Jessica who was moving to Chile, Susana’s home country, this summer to teach English.

Susana’s athletic thing is rock climbing, not a bicycling. (I said she was kind, not sane!) I was a bit surprised when she contacted me over the summer to hear about my bike tour. After a long delay, we sat down this afternoon to chat at Firehook Coffeehouse and Bakery in Cleveland Park.

Of course, I took this as an opportunity to get a ride in. I chose The Mule so that Susana could see the bike I rode during my tour.

I rode my baby into a headwind up the Mount Vernon Trail, across the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge, up Rock Creek Park to Cathedral Avenue then up the long hill to Cleveland Park. The entire way, The Mule felt like it was an extension of my body. Sweet.

We sat in the sunny window and much talk ensued. Mostly I recounted my decade of foibles in learning how to bike tour by failing. Along the way, we covered hostels, Warmshowers, Crazyguyonabike.com, and Adventure Cycling Association maps. Time and again the conversation returned to familiar themes. No hill is too high, no tour too long that you can’t reduce it to a series of manageable efforts. People are just plain nice. Solitude is wonderful. Montana, North Dakota, Iowa,….are beautiful, each in its own way. Blood clots and collapsed lungs suck. Random conversations with plant nerds, elevator technicians, and rolfing artists are gold.

My sense is that Susana wants to bike tour. We talked about buying a bike, what to avoid (big box stores) and what to insist on (a bike that fits). One of these days , we just may see her riding from Pittsburgh to DC along the Gap and C&O Canal trails. (Hey, Susana, want to do a tour in Chile?)

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Coffeeneuring notes: I rode 38 miles round trip for my second coffeeneuring adventure. Susana had chai tea. I had the house coffee and a chocolate chip cookie. Observation: We talked for 3 hours. During that time the temperature dropped about 15 degrees. Even with a tailwind and an additional layer of clothing, I froze on my ride home. Weren’t we complaining about the heat and humidity just a few days ago?

Any Road Tour – Afterglowing

This bike tour, far more than any other that I have done, has left me with after effects that I truly wish I could hold onto.

The Physical Afterglow

Despite eating and drinking an appalling amount of unhealthy things, I managed to lose weight just about everywhere except my legs. The upper body muscle weight that I gained from lifting weights all winter is gone. My belly, although still very much in evidence, is smaller too. Mrs. Rootchopper said that the roll of fat around my waist in the back is gone. I can tell because my pants fall off.

Of course, the upside to this physical change is my body is much, much more efficient on a bike. My pedaling goes more round and round than up and down. I am a few miles per hour faster, which is not surprising, I suppose. I can stand when I climb, something that normally tires me out, and find an extra gear in the process. I noticed near the end of the tour that walking up stairs or up a hill was a snap.

I stopped doing my daily stretching and physical therapy routines for the first time in ages during the tour. It was a complete shock to me that I was much more flexible in my tent than I have ever been.

One thing that didn’t change, and may have been worse than before, is the cramping in my legs and feet. When I was putting my sandals on in the tent, I’d have cramps in my feet. My feet felt like they were curling up, kind of like the Dr. Pepper dude in An American Werewolf in London. Sometimes when putting on shorts in my tent, I’d get a hamstring cramp.One night when my calf was swollen, I had a humongous, painful  cramp in my calf muscle in the middle of the night. Ayeee! Then there was the infamous hamstring cramp in Astoria that caused me to fall off my bar stool.

I could do without the cramps but the rest of these physical changes are quite welcome. I held onto my weight loss from my Key West tour for a couple of months, until pulmonary embolisms parked me on the couch with junk food for solace. It would be great to hold onto these changes well into September so that the 50 States Ride is relatively easy. (Doing it last year with blood clots in my lungs set a low bar for “easy.”)

The Mental Afterglow

After the Key West tour, I was totally mellowed out (except for my bruised rib). This feeling went far beyond mere satisfaction from completing an arduous task over a month’s time. After this year’s tour, I had the same mental afterglow but it was much stronger and more long lasting.

I have no idea what the endocrinology or neurology of this phenomenon is. I recall reading an article about a writer who microdosed on LSD daily for a period of time. (Basically, until her supply ran dry.) She just felt happy all day long. And much more productive. I can’t say I’ve been particularly productive, but the happy part sure fits like a glove. A friend of mine once did ayahuasca and described a profound experience that she “still need[ed] to process.” I feel that same need to process this post-tour mental afterglow.

I talked about my tour with Joe, a reader in DC, at a protest I attended last week. He says he had the same thing after his tour and, to this day, he feels changed in a way that he can’t describe. Andrea, my friend from Friday Coffee Club, said something similar last Friday. She did a tour very similar to mine a few years ago.

It’s a subtle feeling. It’s similar to the feeling I get immediately after I meditate.  (Ironically, I stopped my meditation practice during the tour because it was obviously superfluous.) Maybe it’s caused by a boat load of endorphins or serotonin floating around in my head. I wonder if it made me less introverted during the tour, talking with my Warmshowers hosts or the people in the park in Wenona IL or Martin or Maria and the plant nerds. I definitely noticed it when talking to Julie in the bar the last night in Astoria. I felt like I was talking to someone I had known all my life.

Regardless of the introversion angle, I feel very different. And, just like last fall, the feeling is fading.

Can I hold on?

In the interest of holding on to the physical and mental afterglow, I decided to go for a long bike ride today. The humidity was oppressive and, as the day wore on, so was the temperature. I managed to ride my Crosscheck 92 hilly miles to Poolesville MD and back.

After the ride, I was totally zonked physically. I think riding fast on an unloaded bike brings about a higher level of muscle fatigue that riding a loaded touring bike slowly. Mentally, however, I felt the same afterglow, albeit in muted form. Then I fell asleep. And the Sandman took it away.

 

 

 

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Any Day Tour: Day 15 – Headwinds are us

The city park in Wenona was a pleasant place to spend the night. I don’t don’t have a chance to eat dinner which is probably not a good idea after riding 92 miles.

In the morning I had breakfast at The Broadway. Like most small town places it doubles as a bar and a restaurant. As I was chowing down on pancakes and eggs and sausages at the bar, a bearded burly man sat down next to me and ordered a Bud. The barkeeper asked he wanted a shot with it.

Whoa.

The early ride out of town presented me with stronger headwinds than yesterday and more hills. Ugh.

The novelty of corn and soy fields and funny birds (I am told they are killdeer) has worn off. It was just a slog up a slight grade into the wind. As the day wore on the heat, humidity, and wind speed increased.

I came upon a field of pots.

They were mums. So orderly.

Just before the town of Henry and the bridge across the Illinois River, I come to my first big downhill in days. Man, I’m going to rip down this baby. Just before I started to pedal I noticed way down at the bottom on the other side of the road two cyclists. I decided to wait for them to come up so we could chat. This would allow me the rando trick of preserving the energy from the descent.

They waved at me to come down. So I did. They were Neil and Phyl, tandem cyclists heading from Colorado to Maine. We had a long chat about many things including struggling with our unwieldy bikes in windy conditions.

Having stopped at the bottom Neil decide to walk the tandem up the hill. Phyl and I talked some more trading info on the roads ahead. I was soon to discover that her info was biased by the fact that they’d been riding with tailwinds and downhill.

They were very nice people and I’m going to look up their journal on Crazyguyonabike.com.

After crossing the river on a narrow bridge with a big truck behind me, I rolled into Henry and bought food and sunscreen. What I’ve been using has apparently been prepared with Crisco because my skin is fried.

The winds picked up, the terrain cane more and more challenging. I didn’t have any pop in my legs. There was nothing to do but hope the time passed.

In Bradford, I found a restaurant/bar. The owners were sitting outside next to a Big Green Egg grill. They were done serving lunch but offered to cook he something. I had a burger (about 1/3rd of an inch thick) with their homemade chips. Lord, did it taste good. I also drank beaucoups glasses of ice waster.

Back in the road I felt revived. But the headwinds and the hills continued to beat me down. After the town of Osceola, I encountered a road closure sign.

I decided to take the chance that my bike and I could get through. I guessed right. There was a way to scramble around the construction pushing The Mule through a path the construction equipment had made. The crew of two were finishing up for the day. We chatted for a while then they went home and I went back to business. A few windy and hilly miles later I rolled into Kewanee. The Google showed me how to get to a hotel. There’s a Motel 6 across the street. Some kids hanging around in the parking lot said there was another bike guy in the hotel. It was sold out so I came here next door.

Tomorrow I am considering going off route. Instead of going due west to Muscatine Iowa then north to Oxford Junction, I might go northeast to Davenport then on to Oxford Junction. This would shave a day from the schedule and possibly avoid some hills.

Today’s mileage was 62.5

Total so far is 1,092.5.

Any Road Tour: Day 7 – I bought my bike anchor at REI

After pigging our at the hotel’s breakfast, I hit the road late, around 8:15. I still had a bit more of a hill to climb. This was good because it warmed me up for the 4,000 hills to come. Eastern Ohio is a topographical roller coaster. The hills are shorter than yesterday which allows for a bit of hill hopping, riding hell for leather down one hill to zoom up the next one. This works a whole lot better when your bike isn’t a tank though.

My bike is a tank naked but add four panniers and camping gear and you’ve got one weighty beast. This being day 7 you might be wondering why is he carrying the tent, a heavy 2-person tent I might add, and all that camping stuff.

Because I’m an idiot, that’s why.

The truth is I want the option of camping when indoor accommodations are not easy to come by. I think the tent will become more useful in the weeks ahead. When the terrain is level. Life’s not fair then you die.

I was thinking a lot about death today as the temperature rose into the low 90s (Celsius). There were so many hills that I had to find a way to keep from completely blowing up on them. I started to pre-breath like a free diver to get as much oxygen into my system and to expand my lungs. Also, once I dropped into my granny gear, I’d just put my head down and focus on the road just s few feet beyond my front wheel. This kept me from being mentally defeated by seeing the top of the climb way…up…there.

So I didn’t take too many pictures.

There were many descents at over 30 miles per hour. The Mule can rumble!

After Barnesville I missed a turn and had a nice hilly, mile-long tour of the countryside.

This made me paranoid about missing more turns so I stopped often to get my bearings. And ice cream. And water. My hematologist warmed me not to get dehydrated. So I made sure to carry extra water. At a gas station I had lunch: PB&J, chips, a big cookie, and a Diet Pepsi that was so big I had difficulty holding the cup. I am not making this up. Ohioans must have amazing bladders.

The Mule had so much water I thought of renaming him The Camel, The Mule was not amused.

At 1 or 1:30 I came to my planned stopping point at a campground near Senecaville.

It was too early to quit and I’d only ridden 50 miles so I decided to continue on for another 30 miles to Zanesville.

Did I mention it was hilly? Did I mention it was hot? Did I forget to mention that there was absolutely no shade on the god damned road?

Fug me.

The elevation profile on my maps seemed inaccurate. I should have notice that the scale had been compressed from yesterday. I stared at the elevation profile. Just 5 more hills to go!

I was on a road that had tar on the surface. The tar was liquefying in the heat. Every so often my back wheel would slide in the stuff. And the road also featured curious patches of gravel. Gravel on a descent can ruin your whole day.

Then the terrain stopped matching the profile. I came to a highway. Oops. I had missed another turn someplace.

Fortunately the highway was US 40, the National Toad that goes right through Zanesville. Highway 40 had very little traffic, a wide shoulder, and smooth pavement. There were hills but they were gradual.

After seeing a recently painted Mail Pouch tobacco sign, I rode down the hill into downtown Zanesville. Let’s just say Petula Clark would never sing about this downtown.

I searched the local hotels until I found a decent one near food, a burger and milk shake establishment.

Heaven. I’m in heaven.,.

The detours pushed my mileage to 84 for the day, easing the tour total to 494. Not bad for a week’s work.

Any Road to the PNW – Pre-tour Anxiety

Construction, Fires, Floods, and Lions

I can’t sleep. All I can think about is the cascade of things that are going wrong with my bike tour and I haven’t even left home yet. From past experience I know that I have to go all mindful and concentrate on the here and now. This will be easier once I am rolling.

The route I am taking keeps changing and troubles keep arising. First I was worried about road construction on the route west from Missoula Montana. Next I discovered that the passes to the central Cascades in Oregon are compromised from last years wildfires. (Can’t wait for this years. Derp.) Then I found out that the route down the Columbia River gorge to Portland Oregon is partially closed because of more forest fires. This would force me to ride along the Washington State side of the river, missing Multnomah Falls in the process. For the last few days torrential rains have been wiping out the 185-mile C & O Canal towpath from near DC to near Williamsport, at Mile 100. Needless to day, the free camping sites are probably a mess too. This morning I learned that a mountain lion killed a mountain biker about 30 miles east of Seattle.

That’s right fires, floods, and lions. Whose idea was this anyway?

The Packing List

So I have busied myself making a packing list. Here’s what I am bringing.

Camping

  • Two-person tent
  • Lightweight sleeping bag
  • Silk sleeping bag liner
  • Pillow
  • Bear bag (for keeping carnivores away from my food)
  • Carbiner and nylon rope (to hang the bag)
  • Toilet paper
  • Utensils
  • Ear plugs
  • Sleep mask (for hostels)

Personal

  • Prescription sunglasses
  • Shaving cream
  • Razor
  • Toothbrush
  • Floss
  • Medicine
    • Maintenance inhalers (4) (Asthma)
    • Rescue inhalers (1) (Asthma)
    • Eye drops (glaucoma)
    • Aspirin (blood clots)
    • Ibuprofen
    • Nighttime Ibuprofen
  • Sunscreen
  • Ear plugs
  • Chamois cream
  • Back up prescription glasses
  • Book (maybe 2. Probably ancient Tom Wolfe paperbacks)
  • Passport (for going into Canada or boarding a flight if I lose my other ID)

Clothes

  • Bike shorts (3)
  • Technical bike shirts (3)
  • Cotton t-shirt
  • Off -bike shorts
  • Belt
  • Technical underwear for either on or off bike
  • Socks (3)
  • Bike shoes
  • 1 old t-shirt to use as a rag after it gets worn
  • Floppy hat
  • Teva sandals
  • Rain pants
  • Rain jacket
  • Sunsleeves

Electronics

  • iPhone
  • iPhone cable and charger
  • iPhone earphones
  • Small back up battery
  • Head light
  • Head light charger
  • Taillight belt
  • Taillight belt charger
  • Camera
  • Camera charging cable

Bike Gear

  • The Mule (1991 Specialized Sequoia touring bike)
  • Water bottles (2)
  • Extra water bottle in pannier
  • Four Ortlieb roll top panniers (2 small for the front, 2 large for the rear)
  • Ortlieb medium handlebar bad with map case
  • Bicycling gloves
  • Multitool
  • Tire levers
  • Tubes (3)
  • Folding spare tire
  • Valve adapter
  • Topeak RoadMorph Pump
  • Lube
  • Lock
  • Cables
  • Zip ties
  • Duct tape

Other

  • Adventure Cycling Association Maps (14)
  • Rudi’s route to Little Orleans (A cue sheet to circumvent most of the C&O Canal. A very hilly route that I hope not to use.)
  • Trail mix
  • Energy bars/fruit

The new stuff for this tour is underlined. As you can see I have already crossed out a few items. I wouldn’t know what to do with a cable if I had to do a roadside repair so there’s no point in bringing them. And other than the fact that I can take pictures while riding, the camera is kind of useless. I can use my iPhone for photos, and it will force me to stop to take the pictures which is not a bad thing.

The Route

Whether I like it or not, the route is changing as I type. My current thinking is that instead of riding the canal directly west from DC, I use roads to get me about 100 to 110 miles upriver. So on day one will be spent riding on the roads to Fredrick Maryland. I’ll stay in a hotel. This replaces my first C&O Canal day. Day two will involve riding roads west from Fredrick picking up the Canal and the Western Maryland Rail Trail either at Williamsport or beyond and overnighting in Hancock Maryland at mile 125. (The bike shop has a bunkhouse with showers and WiFi and such.) Day three will be 60 miles of mud to Cumberland assuming the the trail is open. If not, the pooch is screwed. But I’ll mix my metaphors and blow up that bridge when I get to it.

Today’s Fun

My anxiety woke me up at 5 a.m. I have to ride 45 miles round trip to Vienna Virginia to return Bike to Work Day materials. I had volunteered to staff a pit stop 1 1/2 miles from my house. What I didn’t know was that I was responsible for picking up and dropping off Bike to Work Day materials for the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB), our suburban advocacy group, 23 miles away. This easy volunteering effort ballooned from a 3 hour commitment to about 12 hours. Suffice it to say, I’ll choose my volunteering events more carefully next time. On the plus side, I get to do a shake down ride on The Mule.

When I get home, I’ll watch the Nats game, do some laundry, and go a concert in DC. Hopefully, I can sleep in tomorrow.