My brother and I have been planning to ride across the country for more than a year. We kicked into serious training this winter, and finally, the day is here. We leave from Astoria, Oregon, on Monday, June 19. Destination: Portsmouth, N.H. in 50 days.
During those long, solitary hours in the saddle, we learned a few things. No doubt we’ll learn more on the actual ride, but here are some things that have enlightened us so far:
No matter how good you are changing flats in your garage, it’s harder on the road.
Many drivers are polite and will yield to you.
Some drivers get mad at the mere sight of you.
Every hill is rideable. Just put your head down and don’t look up. Alternate in and out of the saddle.
No matter how hard it’s raining, after 10 minutes, you get used to it.
Ride fast enough and you won’t smell that dead hedgehog in the bike lane, covered in flies.
A mesh base layer keeps you warm in winter, cool in summer.
My favorite piece of bike clothing is my Bontrager Sport Wind Jacket. Light, small enough to cram in a jersey pocket, it cuts the wind like a brick wall.
Wear a jersey underneath bibs to protect sensitive areas.
Always take food on a ride, no matter how short you think you’ll ride.
Try not to take offense when friends express no curiosity about your trip.
A week off the bike won’t kill you.
If the first hour of training hurts, it will get better.
Riding hills hard is like adding an extra gas tank.
Riding 100 miles doesn’t make you fitter. It just means you can ride 100 miles.
Yes, your butt develops calluses.
It’s unclear if alcohol impairs training.
The last two weeks of training has no effect on a long ride like this.
The week before you leave, you can’t improve your fitness, but you can harm it. Go easy.
Hours of training clarifies what’s important off the bike, too.
Your spouse’s acceptance is breathtaking in its generosity, but it comes with a cost.
Your family will humble you with their questions and concerns.
Riding forces us to lie less to ourselves. It nudges us closer to the truth about our fears, deceptions, needs and vulnerabilities.