Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Goals and Reality

I have cycled more than 5000 miles since acquiring my Safari in April 2011. None of it has been in touring mode and the longest distance I have covered was 55 miles. There’s no doubt the Safari can make the tour. I am the weakest element.

A week ago I loaded front and rear panniers with about 25 pounds worth of 24 ounce water bottles, all of it unsprung weight. This part of Florida lacks significant hills, but the few short, moderate climbs hinted at the effort that will be required on the Skyline Drive. I was easily able to keep pace with the road bike riders I accompanied on rolling terrain at 15 to 20 mph. For the whole trip or 45 miles I averaged 14+ which is better than I anticipated.

While studying individual segments of the Adventure Cycling East Coast Route I began to accept that 100 miles per day might be unreasonable. Mileage is going to be dependent upon the logistics of finding food, water and shelter. It’s probably more logical to aim at smaller chunks of distance during the first week then increasing the mileage as I become more physically able. Highly relevant in this reasoning is Coastal Georgia’s lack of towns and the towns I will encounter are usually small and lacking significant resources. This changes as the route eases into South Carolina.

Estimates of my ability to handle 75 to 100 mile days may change as I work at extending my range locally. Cedar Key is 55 miles away. If I’m unable to make it a one day round trip at least I’ll be in a place I enjoy.

Loading my front panniers reminded me that I won’t be on a grocery run when they’re loaded for touring. Steering response is slower, but I soon adapted to it, in part, I’m sure, because of the Safari’s geometry. It’s further evidence that the bike can handle the trip. The rest is up to me.

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