Tour Prepping

Between doing the taxes, testing out the new, improved Little Nellie, and shopping for gear, I have begun preparations for my 2023 bike tour. The plan is to ride from home in Mt. Vernon, Virginia to Bar Harbor, Maine. From there, I ride home. Somehow. Using mostly the Adventure Cycling Atlantic Coast Route, I constructed a preliminary itinerary, mostly guided by the availability of campgrounds and motels. The ACA maps also contain info on where to buy food and the location of interesting places along the way.

New Gear

One of keys to a successful tour is getting a good night’s sleep. I have had mixed success in this regard. For last year’s tour I brought a Sea to Summit pillow. It’s much better than sleeping on a pannier filled with clothes. And it packs down to the size of a can of corned beef hash.

I have been using a lightweight REI Sleep Sack for most of my tours. This is a sleeping bag with very little insulation and an open toe box. It was great for sleeping on warm nights during my previous tours but it was woefully inadequate on the cold nights in the mountains out West last summer. I fear Maine may get a bit cool at night so it seemed like a good time to upgrade.

Last week I bought a Nemo Forte bag rated to 30 degrees. It packs down to about twice the size of the Sleep Sack but fits snuggly in one of my rear panniers. I gave it a try in my family room. Dang. Soo comfy!

This week I bought a Themarest NeoAir Xlite sleeping pad. It’s what Mark and Corey, two very sound sleepers, used last summer during our tour through the mountainous West. When I got it home I used the included air sack to inflate it. The air sack is the new thing in camp gear inflation. It’s a super lightweight bag with a valve at one end. The valve attaches to the intake valve on the sleeping pad. You roll the top of the bag down, trapping air inside. As you continue to roll the top down the air squeezes into the pad. Repeat as necessary. I had to do 13 iterations before the pad was filled. PIA. Mark and Corey used a small battery powered pump. You attach the pump to the valve and go about your business setting up camp. The pad inflates in a matter of minutes. No muss. No fuss. Long story short I’m going to get me a pump soon.

I tried the bag and pad out on my family room floor. It’s about as comfortable as sleeping in bed. The padded rug underneath helped but I’m satisfied that my sleep problems will be a thing of the past. I’ll test everything out in the backyard in April just to be sure but I have a very good feeling about this.

I also bought an REI brand walking cane. It collapses down to a couple of feet in length. I should be able to strap it to my rear rack or put it inside my rack top dry bag. This should come in handy when I get to Valley Forge and other places worth exploring off the bike. Take that spinal stenosis.

In addition to the pump, I’ll probably buy a new dry bag. My old one still holds plenty of stuff but it has a duct tape patch on one end which is not ideal for keeping things dry.

The Route

Using the Adventure Cycling maps, I did some cogitating. As I said, places to sleep are a key determinant of the length of each day’s ride. The maps tell me where to find campgrounds and motels but not Warmshowers hosts which are abundant. I factor in the Warmshowers options as I ride.

One of the disadvantages in travelling alone is that hotels and motels will be more expensive since I won’t be able to split the cost with other riders. One of the advantages of solo touring is the fact that Warmshowers hosts tend not to want to deal with more than one or two people per night. Thsi was a source of frustration for Corey. Mark, and me last summer. I should have many more Warmshowers options as a solo rider

The tour starts May 23, two days after a very busy week. I am planning on attending my 50th high school reunion in Albany, New York. I would have ridden to it but I will also be attending a Crowded House concert in DC a couple of days later. (The concert was rescheduled from September 2022 after the drummer hurt his back.) The route will begin at home and take me through 11 states (Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont) and the District of Columbia, This will add two states, New Hampshire and Maines, to my 50 states quest,

Day one will likely be off route to take advantage of Mark’s offer to stay at his place in Linthicum, Maryland south of Baltimore. Riding the ACA route then cutting over to Mark’s place would make for an 80 mile first day. Using a more direct route, one that I used on my first tour in 1999 tour as well as on two other event rides to Baltimore, I’ll be able to shave 25 miles off that distance.

After Mark’s place, I’ll rejoin the ACA route, bypasssing Baltimore to the west and heading up a rail trail to York, Pennsylvania. At York, I hang a right and head across the Susquehanna River to Lancaster County, Amish country. After Lancaster comes Valley Forge which I have never been to.

The route continues skirting Philadelphia to the northwest. North of Easton I cross the Delaware River into New Jersey and head up the Delaware Water Gap. (I understand a detour is in place because of a landslide in the gap. I expect I’ll be doing some climbing.) I’ll ride up the Delaware to Port Jervis, New York. Travelling into New York, I’ll follow a rail trail along the eastern side of the Catskills until I cross the Hudson River on the Walkway over the Hudson Park, a repurposed raillroad trestle at Poughkeepsie. Here I may divert to check out Hyde Park just to the north of Poughkeepsie. The route continues into Connecticut and across the Berkshires. (Knees don’t fail me now!)

At Windsor Locks, after ten days of riding I’ll leave the the route and head south to West Hartford where I will take a rest day at my daughter’s place. Hopefully there will be a minor league baseball game that night.

Back on the road I’ll go back to Windsor Locks and turn right, going across the northern edge of Connecticut to the upper Northwest corner of Rhode Island.

(One possible change to my journey would involve riding off route to Providence where I went to grad school. After that I’d head east to Cape Cod and out to Provincetown. Then take a ferry across Massachusetts Bay to Boston where I went to college. The downside to all this is getting back on the ACA route which bypasses Boston about 30 miles west and north of the city.)

From the corner of Rhode Island the route heads northeast to Westborough, Massachusetts between Worcester and Framingham. Continuing northeast the route enters New Hampshire north of Methuen, Mass. After a night in East Derry, I will head to the coast and enter Maine near York. After that, I ride 200 miles up the coast to Bar Harbor arriving around June 10.

I’ll spend a day exploring Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island before heading back down the coast following the Adventure Cycling Northern Tier Route. This route coincides with the Atlantic Coast route until Brunswick, Maine before leaving the coast and crossing the Green and White Mountains in New Hampshire and Vermont, respectively, more or less in a straight line.

At Ticonderoga, I’ll re-enter New York State and follow Lake George and the Hudson River down to Albany where I grew up and have family. I’ll take another rest day there.

The current plan is to ride down the Hudson to Poughkeepsie where I will rejoin the Atlantic Coast Route for the ride back home.

I expect I’ll make it home by the first week in July with 2,200 miles of riding under my belt. This will get me back in plenty of time to partake in family events, most importantly, a visit from my son who I haven’t seen since the pandemic hit.

If my son’s itinerary results in him arriving in August, I may head west from Ticonderoga on the Northern Tier instead. Where I would turn south is anybody’s guess. At most this could add 600 or 700 miles to the trip. (In general, the longest route would go from Ticonderoga to Erie, Pennsylvania where I would turn south to Pittsburgh. From Pittsburgh to home is 350 miles of mostly off-road riding.)

Stay tuned.

It’s Never Too Early to Plan a Tour

Yesterday I did a shakedown cruise on The Mule. I recently had it fixed up for my tour by the good folks at Bikes at Vienna. The bike rides fine, although it feels a little different now that it has Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour tires on it. These tires weight 50 percent more than the Schwable Mondial tires I have been using since the pandemic hit. But the weight is worth it, because they have a beefy tread that is nearly puncture proof (knock wood).

I road The Mule to DC and back, about a 30-mile round trip. The gears and brakes work fine. I did notice that my front rack was a tad wobbly. This is not surprising as I haven’t tightened the bolts in a few years. I need to dig out my wee bottle of Loctite to make sure the bolts stay tight.

The beefier tread means that my bike computer needs to be recalibrated. I think I have it figured out but I want to do one more check before moving on to other things such as,

  1. Tent – I need to set up my tent and see if I want to use it on this trip. It’s a Big Agnes lightweight backpacking tent that is not freestanding. This is a pain. Also, the inside mesh sags. I miss my big old tent but had to abandon it when, despite, seam sealing, it leaked on me one too many times. I might buy a 2-person, freestanding tent and use that instead.
  2. Panniers – My Ortlieb roll top panniers are pretty beat up. They lost their waterproofing a long time ago. I need to go over them and cover any weak spots with duct tape. I’ll bring some plastic bags to use as liners just to be safe.
  3. Maps and Routing – I have to buy several maps from Adventure Cycling. I need maps for one segment of the Lewis and Clark Route (this will get me from the start to Nebraska). I need to do some research on how to ride across Nebraska to Colorado Springs where I will meet up with my 2019-tour friends Mark and Corey. The three of us will ride the remainder of the Trans America Route from Colorado to the Oregon coast. Mark has an extra set of six maps for this section that he’s offered me, but I’ll need to buy one map segment (from West Yellowstone to Missoula) because this was recently updated.
  4. Bike Transport – My wife and I are driving to Missouri for a wedding in May. I hope to use my Saris Bones rack on her Subaru Outback but she is resisting because she can see the marks on the paint of my Accord. An alternative would be to fold down the back seats and put the bike inside but I fear this will damage my fenders. We’ll figure something out. In any case I just bought new straps for the rack. The old ones are pretty worn out.
  5. Engine performance – Bless me father for I have slacked. It’s been three years since my last bike tour. During that time I have endured a disturbing number of cortisone shots. As of today, I can ride my bike pain free for hours. Walking, however, presents some problems. I’m scheduled for a few more shots to deal with this aspect. I have also experimented with edibles but they haven’t done a thing, except put me to sleep. Some recent experiments with yoga seem to be helping, although I have my doubts based on past experience.
  6. Engine weight – Do you know who Charles Taylor was? He built the light-weight aluminum engine used in the Wright Brothers’ planes. Without him, the Wright Brothers would be just another couple of geeky bike shop owners in Dayton OH. Let’s just say that my engine could use Taylor’s help. Every pound I don’t have to haul up into the Rockies, the better.

There are plenty of other things to worry about. Bison, elk, wolves, bears, wildfires, soul-sucking headwinds, brutal climbs, land whales (RVs), floods, withering heat, and overbooked campsites. Who’s idea was this anyway? Look on the bright side: at least I won’t have to contend with parachuting spiders.

April in my rear view mirror

After a week of mourning and activism, I need to move ahead. Dealing with the sudden death of a friend is always very hard. Seeing the incredible outpouring of love for Dave in the local community (and beyond) has been amazing.

I pulled up a bunch of old Flickr pictures to share with friends on Facebook. I had said in my last blog post that I’d known Dave for five years. The pictures say that it’s more like ten. I had forgotten how many rides we did together.

He may be gone but like Tom Joad he’ll still be here.

A fellow ain’t got a soul of his own, just little piece of a big soul, the one big soul that belongs to everybody.”

But unlike Tom Joad, Dave had an enormous soul. And his passing leaves a our one big soul broken.

When I heard the news, I didn’t even want to look at a bike, much less ride it thousands of miles. That feeling faded with dozens of tearful hugs from friends over the last week.

My Errandonnee activity came to a screeching halt however. It just didn’t seem right to continue. Most of my rides in the last week were to and from DC to visit the site of the crash twice, go to a happy hour with mutual friends, and attend a rally at the District Building (city hall) to call for the city to up its game to keep vulnerable road users safe.

Near the end of the month my Cross Check’s odometer hit 12,000 miles. I put it away and switched to The Mule for the rest of the month.

Ironically, on my first ride to the crash site, I found out that the brakes on The Mule were nearly useless. When I got home I tried to put new brake pads on the bike but the hardware on the 28-year old brake mechanism was so rusted that I couldn’t get one of the old pads free of the caliper. Fed up, I took the bike to my local bike shop where they swapped out the old cantilever brakes for new mini v-brakes. Afterwards I could skid my back wheel. A vast improvement.

The planning for my tour continues to march ahead. The expected start date is now May 16. Launch will occur from the small town of North Judson, Indiana instead of Chicago. This is because Mrs. Rootchopper will be driving me there in her new car. Her 15-year-old car was burning oil like a bad diner cook. Speaking of diners, North Judson has an awesome one that I will hit up before departure. During Lent, they make killer paczkis, which Dave, who lived in Chicago and its environs before moving to DC, would have appreciated.

I have built a decent mileage base, riding 868 miles in April. So far this year I have clocked 2.609 miles, mostly in 30-mile days.  That, and riding 1,300 miles from Indiana to Colorado, should put my legs, not to mention engine weight, in good stead for the climbing during the middle of the trip.

My long ride of the month was a 64-mile jaunt to Bethesda and Potomac, Maryland. A few days ago I did a hilly 39 miler. I also rode to six or seven baseball games at Nationals Park. The rides were better than most of the games. Blame the bullpen.

Last night on the way home from the last game of April, I spooked a yearling in the dark along the Mount Vernon Trail. It bounded along the trail ahead of me for a few hundred yards, its white tail dancing in the white circle of my headlight.

On to May….





Roofs and cars

My little retirement goal is to do one adult thing a day. For whatever reason, tour planning hasn’t made the cut so far. (I’ll get there. Eventually.)

A few weeks ago our insurance company sent us an email with attached photos of the roof of our house. Unless we address visible problems with the roof, the insurer will not renew our policy. Are you in good hands?

So today we had our roofing contractor come out. (Basically, this contractor has redone 85 percent of the exterior of our home. We really like working with them.) He went inside the attic and found plenty of evidence of leaks. Then walked around on the roof and found that the plywood is basically gone to pot. Most of the plywood is cheap stuff that was installed when the house was built in 1965. (He also found minor problems with the chimney. In for a nickle, in for a dime.)

So, long story short, we’ll be getting a new roof this summer. Mrs. Rootchopper also wants to insulate the attic but that awaits estimates from another contractor. To add to the “buy” list, Mrs. Rootchopper’s car needs to be replaced.

Five years ago this would have stressed me out completely. Now I just let it happen. As Mrs. Rootchopper’s cancer surgeon said, “It is what it is.” Homes and cars aren’t even in the same class as malignant tumors so what me worry.

With yesterday’s nasty shoulder pain mostly gone (I can’t even), I took off on the Crosscheck for some meditative riding. I decided to ride 30 miles without using the same street twice. This required a bit of on-the-fly planning which kept my mind off roofs and cars. My route was almost entirely on neighborhood streets and trails so it was very low stress. A day of rest gave my legs new life, I suppose. I ended up riding 33 miles and my speed was two miles per hour faster than normal. At the end I had plenty left in the tank, but I topped it off with some chocolate chip cookies just to be on the safe side.

Tomorrow, after Friday Coffee Club, a trip to the gym, and a stop at the hardware and grocery stores (did someone say Errandonnee?), I will sit down and do the itinerary for the second half of this summer’s bike tour.



Bike trip stuff

I’m starting to amass some new stuff for my bike trip. Two new Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires to replace the two I’ve been riding for a year and nearly 5,000 miles. (The old ones are still usable but won’t survive a long tour.)

A new Ottolock will replace my heavy U-lock. I’ll be mostly in rural areas so this should provide ample security. It’s a combination lock so I don’t have to worry about losing my key.

Spray on sunscreen for the ever growing solar panel on the top of my head.

And a pile of Adventure Cycling maps to keep me from getting lost.

I’ve also bought new Koolstop brake pads for my front and back wheels.

I’m going to buy a water filter and maybe a merino wool t-shirt before I leave.

About five or six weeks to lift off. Stay tuned.

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.

Imposter Syndrome, Nightmares, Eagles, and Maps

When I retired, I finally could say good bye to imposter syndrome. an intense, irrational feeling of inadequacy.  To some extent it served as motivation. Six months after riding solo across the country, I am doubting my ability to do a long tour. It makes not the slightest bit of sense but there it is.

For decades I have had nightmares about being in grad school. Typically, this involves forgetting to go to class (I missed only a handful of classes in college and grad school) or getting lost on campus. Last night I had a very disturbing nightmare about statistics, of all things. In my dream I had forgotten everything I knew about statistics. I felt utterly useless and defeated. I was rattled by the dream for a couple of hours after I woke up. This is totally stupid because I took statistics in high school, college, and grad school. I taught statistics at a college in Rhode Island. And statistics played a major role in my professional life.

A couple of hours after I woke up, I found a very woo woo guided meditation online. I just shut off my skeptic and went with it. It was recorded live and featured the sound of rain from a passing shower. After 25 minutes the lingering anxiety from the nightmare was gone.

Having restored my sanity, I went for a ride. I did 41 1/2 miles yesterday in shorts so I wanted to do a fairly easy 30 today.  I was meandering through suburban neighborhoods when I decided to go down a dead end street to take a look at the Potomac River. The street was lined with McMansions that go for well over $1 million. As I passed one of the last houses before the turn around, I spotted something in a pine tree. A big nest. And right above it was a bald eagle. I am guessing that he may have been guarding a brooding mama eagle.

Eagle backyard

Before my ride I called Adventure Cycling about some maps I need for my tour. The maps that would guide me across Utah and Nevada were out of stock last week. It turns out new maps will be available on Friday. So I ordered all the other maps I need. Later in the day, a couple of packages arrived. One contained a pair of hiking poles. I intend to put them to use in April and later in the summer. The other package had new tires for The Mule and a lightweight lock, which I will use instead of a heavy U-lock.

Speaking of weight, I have noticed that The Mule’s engine has added some mass in recent weeks. Time to dial back the beer and chips. Oink.

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.


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.





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.