Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I have all the Adventure Cycling maps needed to travel north as far as Baltimore. They are comprehensive and leave few ques tions except the pragmatic ones. Where will I sleep? Eat? Shower? Even these questions are answered by the thorough descriptions of the routes showing bike shops, campgrounds, motels and more. The questions are generated by personal uncertainties. How many hours can I remain in the saddle? How far can I ride?

For the next few months I will learn about my personal limitations by doing increasingly long day and overnight trips. Refining my camping skills will make it easier to anticipate were and how to do some stealth or guerilla camping. This seems to be a larger issue across southeastern Georgia than anywhere else.

One necessary adjustment has too be made to my intended route. The cost to cross from "mainland" Virginia to the Eastern Shore is too high at about $50 by private ferry. Getting to the Outer Banks remains on the schedule since the public ferries will set me back about $3. As a result, I no longer have to plot my own course from OBX.

North of Baltimore I will leave the Adventure Cycling Atlantic Coast route and head due north into Pennsylvania on the Maryland North Central Trail near Monkton.. The North Central Trail, a rail-to-trail path becomes a section of PA's J Route which eventually follows US 15 along the Susquehanna River. Currently, I am losing interest in daring the narrow roads leading to Pottsville and will consider my trip successful if I reach the confluence of the North and West Branches of the Susquehanna.

The return route remains uncertain. reading Bicycling the Blue Ridge has given me a good idea of the challenge I will face there. I am less concerned about my ability and stamina than I am about where to turn south. Do I cross all of Georgia? Or do I head toward the coast again somewhere in North Carolina? No matter what route I choose it will be without good map support, a daunting prospect. Yet, if I have succeeded in reaching my northbound goal I will probably be able to cope with a less structured journey.

None of my concerns causes me to waiver in my desire to set-off. I see the concerns as reasonable and the solutions just part of planning and doing.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


I was very disappointed when I left work and found my rear tire flat. I have long passed being upset about fixing a flat. It's part of riding. But this was a Schwalbe Marathon with which "Punctures become obsolete"! I rationalized that I'd picked up a shard of glass when I navigated broken bottles which had fallen from an overly full Herby Curby® on trash pick-up day. Marathons have a reputation for long life and puncture resistance. The touring tire of choice. A priceless piece of equipment for touring. <sigh>

I'd found nothing sharp or pointy in the tire carcass and no obvious hole in the tube. With a spare tube in place the ride home was as uneventful as usual. That evening I plunged the tube in water and eventually found the tiniest of holes in the area where the valve stem meets the tube. It had not been a puncture, apparently, but a small hole in the tube. If I had refilled the tube without changing I could have made the ride home easily. Had the leak always been there and the real cause of the flat the act of a nefarious evil doer? A practical joke?

For me, the result is that I again trust the Schwalbes to keep me rolling. And if the flat was a physical defect in the tube or the act of someone, it doesn't matter much. Even if it had been the failure of the tire to protect me, it had done its job perfectly for more than 1000 miles. I once had two punctures in the same tire in less than 10 minutes. City streets can be figurative minefields of sharp things easily able to pierce lesser treads. I have used many less expensive tires and spent much more to keep rolling for 1000 miles than the $100 I invested in a pair of good tires.

There is a lesson in here somewhere and it is not solely about having good equipment. Even with good equipment stuff happens. I intend to travel more than 2000 miles at the end of the summer. How I handle adversity will define much of that event. Preparation increases the potential for success. Everything else is up to me.