Monday, April 30, 2012

If you think about it . . .

Someone recently said, "If you think about it, it's pretty weird to want to ride that far on a bicycle." I suppose such and adventure could seem unusual. It didn't come about without a lot of thinking about it. If I were significantly younger I might approach it as an escapade. With most of the logistical and route planning completed it is easier to consider all those things that make it "pretty weird."

Self-doubt slides up and half wheels me frequently. It's that age thing. Aches? Pains? Falls? Illness? Can I do it in 14 days? And what about the mountains when south bound? A lot of things have fallen out of my lists bucket. It's taken time. I wanted to backpack parts of the Appalachian Trail. Drive around Nova Scotia. Hang out around the Finger Lakes. Never did the App Trail nor Nova Scotia. Did the Finger Lakes. There are other things that return fond memories and mostly they balance the things. Age becomes relevant. If I don't try it now, when?

A few things remain sources of doubt
  • Coastal Georgia seems to have the fewest and most widely separated resources; camping, lodging and bike shops
  • Planning the best schedule transiting through and around for DC and Baltimore
  • Best route to Front Front Royal
  • Handling the Skyline Drive (fortunately, the Skyline Drive is more accessible than the Blue Ridge Parkway)
  • Getting from Roanoke to the SC coast (OK . . . that means more than half the trip is tentative)
I was given a T Shirt with the following inscription;

Who Dares

Pretty much says it. If not now, when?

Reached the ability to maintain 15 mph. When I can do that with the bike fully loaded I will be fully prepared for the trip. Until then I guess self-doubt will be dogging me. My best hope is to turn the dog into a wingman by acknowledging the challenge and potential problems while embracing Who Dares.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Some things . . .

More people are riding now. Weather's been mild. Generally dry. Perhaps someone will discover the overwhelming pleasure or riding and turn to bicycle commuting as an option. I don't know what characteristics led me to choose pedal power over hydrocarbons, so it isn't possible to predict what might motivate someone else. It's a simple matter of enjoy time in the saddle and being willing to deal with some negative stuff.

1, If it rains you get wet.
There is no way to avoid the obvious. Nothing will keep you dry. The best one can hope for is management of the degree of wetness. I sweat whether I am wearing breathable or suffocating rain gear, and nothing is truly breathable enough to counter the kilocalories of heat generated when I ride. Accepting that wet is a part of the moment and dress to minimize as much as possible. I have settled on a rain cape from J & G Cyclewear. The English have used capes for damn close to forever. After a more than a year I am completely satisfied. I know how wet I will get and carry dry clothing and, if the temperature permits, foot gear that can handle being soaked. Lacking rain-handling shoes, a spare pair. How do I carry this and not have the dry stuff get wet? Waterproof panniers from Ortlieb, specifically Back Rollers Plus.

2. If it's cold you get cold.
Again it is a matter of degree. Twenty degrees is as cold in Florida as it is in Ohio. It doesn't last as long, but it happens. The first thing to keep in mind is that being warm during the first mile or so is not good. As wigth rain wear. Heat is generated and if you are over dressed you will sweat and become colder. Layers are the only answer. Learning what works and what does not is a matter of experience. As with rain preparations, carrying alternate and additional clothing is worth considering. Hands are my coldest place, but has been moderated by wearing Smart Wool glove liners. For about $16 and a pair of Harbor Freight XL Stable Gloves my hands were relatively comfortable to the upper 20s.

3. If it's hot you will be hot.
The only secret (if there is one) is water. Hydration is the key. You will still be hot, still sweat, but you won't pass out. I carry three 28 ounce water bottle and on 24 ounce. During the 10 mile ride home I will often finish a 28 ounce bottle. Even during cooler weather I make sure the bottles are filled. Water is the fluid that fuels us.

Nothing monumental here, just reality.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ready? Not yet.

I commence my adjusted lifestyle today working four day weeks allowing alternate four day weekends. The idea is to schedule long rides and overnights during the long weekends as part of being ready for August. Cedar Key (50+ miles), Steinhatchee (60+) and, eventually, St. Augustine (100 or so) are suitable destinations. Other parts of the plan are successive 50 mile loops and state park camping.

I purchased he Safari in April of last year and have accumulate 4800+ miles. I am more satisfied with the bike now than ever, in part because of additions and adjustments; tires, stem, pedals, fenders, saddle and so on. The Travoy has made my carless lifestyle more successful adding capacity over that available with panniers and making grocery shopping painless. Brooks doesn't need my praise, but I am one of those who has found their saddle to be ideal. Break-in was painless (literally and figuratively) but did require that I understand a B-17 was not going to behave like a gel filled pad. Maintaining good posture is a significant part of the Brooks' comfort, too, meaning I can ride more comfortably and (I hope) longer.

The value of Schwalbe tires has already been documented. Like Brooks, Schwalbe's have detracters, but for reasons irrelevant to me. Heavy? So am I. Hard to mount? I had no problem. Ultimately, they work well for me and I doubt I will ever choose anything else.

The biggest question remains whether I can handle the demand of 1000+ miles. Camping? Motel? Weather? Traffic? Secondly, if I handle all the physical and mental issues can I (do I want to) challenge myself with a do-it-yourself trip to the Skyline Drive? Doubt is generated more by the route after leaving the mountains. Do I traverse North Carolina and head for the South Carolina coast? Do I add the Blue Ridge Parkway and then cycle Georgia from north to south?

While I cannot plan for everything if I prepare myself well I suspect I will be able to handle whatever comes along.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Are you following me?

I have been using the Burley Travoy long enough to have opinions.

The Travoy does exactly what it is supposed to do. It has allowed me to purchase and transport a week's worth of groceries without incident. My presence moving along the aisles does not seem to cause obvious disruption or consternation and I am learning how to gather items so they can be bagged most conveniently for the return trip.

One of the motivating factors in buying the Travoy was the inconvenience of strapping a bicycle rack to my bike when I rented a car. It was obvious that some things cannot be slipped into panniers and if I intended to continue this two-wheeled existence I needed a solution. Only the Travoy offered a high enough level of convenience and efficiency. I imagined putting the rack on a trailer and eliminating the inconvenience. What I imagined did not even come close to the ease by which the Travoy accepted and carried the rack.

Twenty-four miles of Gainesville's streets reaffirmed what I already believed. The Travoy is cool. The bike rack fits perfectly and is easily held in place with three bungee cords. When I picked-up the car on Friday the Travoy quickly and easily folded compactly enough to fit perfectly behind the car's front seat. Low pressure tires provide the right level of rebound over bumps and roll easily enough to make little difference in pedaling effort. Only the occasional click from the hitch gives real evidence of the trailer behind. Only the weight limit (sixty pounds) and imagination create parameters that can't be exceeded. Beyond that, if it fits I can probably carry it . . .  them . . . all of them.

A short transit on a dirt path through a stretch of woods takes me from my complex to another paved street when I go grocery shopping. Too and from are handled with equal ease. The trailer is no wider than my handlebars so it is easy enough to determine whether a passage is wide enough. As with city street bumps, the low pressure tires handle off-road competently.

It's not built for touring and that was never my intention. Burley promotes it as a tool for commuters and it fits that role perfectly. All I can wonder about now is its durability. A few thousand miles from now I will have an answer to that question.