Saturday, August 31, 2013

Traveling means adapting

My epic plans to bike to Baltimore were foiled when I started having crazy knee pain with every pedal stroke, 30 miles into my ride. But I rode it out for another 30 miles, making for a beautiful 60 mile day to Lambertville.

As soon as I left home, I thought, "How the hell did I pedal this heavy bitch all the way across the country?" It's been a year since I rode a loaded bike, and it felt heavier than I remembered. But I loaded it just the same way I did a year ago, spare tire on top of the rack which was on top of my tent, nestling a loaf of bread under the cargo net. And after some miles of the sun beating down on the bread, I had the same thoughts I did a year ago: Ahhh, a steamy hot loaf of bread, just as if it came out of the oven, only not even close. McKinley would approve.

Ten miles in I met a fella (Rich?) from the next town over. He was on his first ride in 2 years, on an old steel frame road bike with down tube shifters, and wore ancient leather road shoes. Relic! We rode together for maybe 30 minutes, and we discussed his ride down the Pacific Coast after college, my ride across the country, and his college-aged daughter wanting to do Bike and Build next summer.

The ride to Lambertville was magical. If I didn't take up cycling, I don't think I'd have a new found love for NJ. I keep finding gorgeous open land in this most densely-populated state in the nation. The route led me through beautiful farmland, and quiet country roads. And a lot of those 60 miles felt like western and central Oregon – my favorite state on the TransAm. Big, beautiful blue sky, a cool breeze, and the warm sun beating on my face. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, even though I was pedaling through pain.

Rocket scooped me up in Lambertville, and we headed back to her house. The highlight of the night was finally tasting Rogue's collaboration with Voodoo Donuts' creation of bacon maple porter. I'm still not sure what I think of it, but I kept sipping it.

I decided to take a train home the next morning, it was the smart thing to do. I had this pain in my knee a few years ago, and it doesn't go away if you keep riding on it.


I drove to Baltimore and still spent a few days with McK and Andy. Many beers were drank, celebrations of a year anniversary of completing a ride across the country together ensued, and life stories were exchanged. We listened to records (Andy doesn't do technology) and we chatted for hours. It was awesome to see those fools, and even better knowing my road dog lives 600 miles closer now. In bike time, we're 3-4 days apart, rather than 2-3 weeks.

Though my trip didn't go as planned, I was not upset. It gave me a little down time at home, which is something I haven't had in months.

This is the only photo from Baltimore

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Elefante and Haribo ride again

In a few days, it'll be exactly one year ago that I dipped my rear wheel in the Atlantic, signifying the end of my ride across America. I've been dreaming of the next bicycle adventure since then, but was never quite sure what it would end up being. All I knew was, I wanted to ride my bike long-distance this summer.

Well, life got in the way. I worked, and worked, and worked, and did nothing productive otherwise. I swapped riding steel for superlight aluminum, logging hundreds of miles on day rides. It was all I could do in the way of cycling.

But here I am, happily making my last minute plans for the shortest bike tour ever: NJ to Baltimore, about 220 miles. The steel Beast and I will finally get to know each other, once again. Though it'll only be a few days of riding, I am thrilled to sneak in some touring time. Nothing but me, my thoughts, and the whoosh of tires over pavement.

Now residing in Baltimore is none other than my kickass friend and riding partner, McKinley, and also Andy. So the plan is to bike door to door. And how neat that we will get to clank beer mugs to commemorate the day we rolled into Yorktown and finished the ride.

Elefante and Haribo, my bicycle hood ornaments, get to accompany me on yet another adventure. Soon, we will ride.