After getting harrassed to finish up this blog, I offer the following reflections with about two weeks of being off the bike.
First I wanted to check my expectations I posted at the beginning of the ride with reality.
The first week was not as hard as I thought, and my legs were never an issue on the entire ride. What did come into play that I did not expect was the shouting and cussing that came from my nether regions and my hands. The first contact point subsided to a loud whisper, and my hands did stop hurting but did continue to go numb.
I did eat at small diners along the way but with mixed results, but there were more catered meals at the campsites than I expected. This was both good and bad, good in that I didn't need to spend the extra time traveling to a restaurant, waiting for the food, paying and getting back to the campsite, bad in that the food was whatever was served from really good, to mediocre.
Surprisingly I did not have any issues with the heat and humidity because the weather was favorable to this wimpy Californian. Yes there were some hot days, and some humid days, but never the deadly combination and the vast majority of the days riding were not an issue. However, and this is a big one, I did not expect the HEADWINDS that we experienced which really were an issue during the first part of the ride.
My expectation of a huge amount of flat tires was not met. I had one. And although it was a rear tire, there was no cussing and shouting.
I never had to set up my tent in the rain, just twice in sprinkles. I did exit the tent at night for some reason, but never in the rain although there was some moisture before I got back to the tent.
I did meet a lot of wonderful people who were all very happy to engage with me and have interesting conversations, some were unsolicited and included everything from the persons birth to the current day of the week. I only had one encounter with a person who was disagreeable, but by the end of the encounter they were in a better humor. There were no propositions.
It was a great experience, but as I expected, not life changing. I did get homesick for my family, but the amount of riding reduced the amount of time I was afflicted with this deadly disease.
Finally I did become friends with my fellow Big Riders, and as I suspected, nobody has invited me over for drinks.
This is a very large country! It just doesn't seem fair that it takes 48 days to cross it with a bike but only 6 hours to fly back. I could have saved a lot of time by flying both directions.
My training was adequate for the ride. I was not the fastest rider nor the slowest, but I felt really good about my ability to complete the ride. Riding day after day turned out to be more mental than physical, and it was helpful to know that physically I could meet the challenge and could concentrate on the mental. I would also note that there were a couple of riders who came into the ride with little training who did very well. But they were the exception to the rule and I would not recommend future riders coming in with a couple of weeks of riding.
My gear was certainly up to the task. My work at REI allowed me to secure really good stuff, although some if it was certainly overkill like my tent. Because the weather was very favorable, I did not need to worry about setting up my tent in the rain, and I could have gone with a simpler tent.
The people who were on the Big Ride were quite an eclectic group of individuals varying in age from 18 to 65 with concentrations in the 22-30 age group and 55-65 group. I really enjoyed each and every rider and what they brought to the party, although I suspect I won't be invited to the party again.
This ride is very doable for most people and only requires the training beforehand, and of course 7 weeks of vacation. If you looked at our group and were asked what we had in common, I don't think anyone would answer we were crossing the country on bicycles.
I know this is a surprise, but I really looked forward to the days off. It was a time to be a tourist, and get away from the riding for a day. It also provided me an opportunity to drink a beer the night before the rest day without the worries of becoming dehydrated. I probably over thought this one as there were a couple of riders who were able to drink most nights and did not suffer as a result.
Thank you to all of the people who donated to the American Lung Association to make it possible for me to do this ride. It really does feel good to raise money for a charity and be able to spread the message as we rode across the country.
The best part of the trip was the riding, the worst was getting up in the dark, packing up the gear, putting on the lycra and wool which was always damp due to the humidity, and eating a lousy breakfast. I am very happy to now be sleeping in my bed.
I was asked if I will do the Big Ride again. NO! A great experience which does not need to be repeated.