Before the Trip
Send Off BBQ
Hectic to the last minute, Friday came quickly and so did the
celebration. We are officially starting- or at least not working
anymore. It was awesome to start breathing a little bit easier-
even with all the packing tasks at hand still to be done. Music,
friends and family, some food and drinks - we were well on our
way. The weight of normalcy was lifting with every second that
passed. All the well wishes were awesome - hopefully you'll enjoy
the stories that unfold here.
Packing - the Ritual
Usually I stuff a couple extra items in with the bike. This time
I had so many extras I had to stand on the box and pull the straps
with all my weight to close the gap. 3 person tent, sleeping bag,
air mattress, camp stove, fold-up chair, 2 pairs of bike shoes,
pump, 3 water bottles, flashlight, Camelback MULE, first aid kit,
oh, and the bike with aero bars. It's all in there, and that's
had all* my clothes and maps. Primarily bike clothes for all weather
conditions - freezing and raining to hot dry desert. Then some
So I'm in Hartford, Connecticut - staying with my cousin Carmen
and Carlos - for Alisa and Glenn's wedding, and I happen to remember
that I didn't pack my bike
What? Are you serious? I didn't even have to check. I can clearly
(now) remember that I didn't pack them. Any of them!
bringing the bike, but a close second on the priority list
would be the shorts. Blame it on the beers Rabbit and I "punished"
night before packing, or trying to fit everything for a month into
a duffel bag- including the suit for the wedding! But any way you
look at it... you'd think you'd remember that. Thanks to Tim for
for me. I brought the bike.
Flying out to Seattle on Monday - Sept 5 - from Hartford. Seemed
easy enough before it actually happened. Then the poker game started
somewhere around midnight. Thanks to guys I am now traveling a
bit lighter despite the great cards I got- the river card just
kept killing me. Anyway, that only lasted until about 3am or so,
and the flight wasn't until 6:30 or 7am - the specifics were still
a bit hazy. Oh and we didn't know where the airport was - but we
saw one "on approach" the day before so we figured it was close.
Great theory, maybe.
So by the time we get back to the
house (where we were staying), packed up the bike box, logged
online for some dial-up numbers I need to download along the
re-pack-- well, by then it was about 3:57am - the alarm was set
for 5:15am but for some reason I never heard it. Maybe the baby
did because he was the first one up at 5:30 - and we were in
the car 10 minutes later wide awake and fully rested. We were
off and I got there with time to spare- hopefully the bags are
with me.. and the bike.
Phoenix - on the way to Seattle
shorter routes but it was too good a deal to pass up. Fly from
Hartford to Seattle and then return from San Diego to National
(with a bike both ways) - about $300 all inclusive on America
West. They offer "bikes fly free" if you book through the USAT
travel agent (and you're a USAT member).
Are we there yet? Well almost- just another hour or so. I met up
with Tim in Phoenix to catch the same flight up. Once we get
there we'll meet up at baggage claim with Aaron, Lauren and Melba.
The plan is to somehow get our bikes and gear over to the car
rental place and load up our equipment... without yet having
a bike rack. So the first stop will be REI- to get the rack and
some other supplies. In theory it seems to work but having 5
people and 5 bike boxes and gear in one vehicle might be a tight
fit. Then again it makes sense that the hardest part of the coordination
is when we are NOT riding. Once on the road by bike things we'll
The Bikes Made It
So we all made it there with everything we packed. The rental
counter was right in front of baggage claim area number 9 - we
were set. And the reality set in - this was it.
We checked in at a Quality hotel - in a great neighborhood. Right
across from the "Hurricane: open 24 hours" - not yet
having walked in there we've all speculated as to what actually
goes on in
there. Anyway we ended up unloading and heading out to get some
food. Starved from traveling all day and not sleeping right we
ended up at Zeeks Pizza- just five blocks away near the space needle.
I can't remember if it was 4 or 5 pizzas but they were the best
pizza I ever had. Well, I was hungry- so it was really good. We
sat around soaking it all in - the people, the weather (60° and
sunny), the trip, and it was hard to get up from our comfy outdoor
Eventually we did get up- there was one thing that seemed to call
us- the REI flagship store- again, probably only about 10 blocks
from our choice location; our temporary home. Once we got there
like walking into a museum- it was HUGE. An entire nature center
that you walk through to get in and no lack of space. Without exaggeration
I think it was the largest store of any kind I have ever been in.
We found our essentials (bike rack, CO2) and some toys- of course.
Lauren even enjoyed shopping for sports equipment - and we were
able to pull Aaron and Melba out of there in time to get back
and start building our bikes.
Before falling asleep- two bikes were assembled - all checked out.
And my beloved bike shorts were with me. All is good.
Vancouver - the Day Before
Tuesday was a slow day- finding the right spot for breakfast in
Seattle before packing up (and getting all the junk in the van)
and then heading north to Vancouver. Awesome day - 65° and sunny.
We met up with Jason and Ian (another two riders) near the US/Canada
border and took the rest of the day to roam around, have some
a bit. It certainly
felt "west coast" - not sure exactly what it was but the people,
huge mountain landscapes but it all added up to a carefree
On our way out of town we came upon a Dairy Queen. It was like
God had placed it in front of me for a reason. Ok, maybe that's
a little far fetched but there had to be some kinda karma working.
So without hesitation I ordered up my Oreo Blizzard- first
trip. I haven't really done any biking *yet* but why pass up a
perfect opportunity. Plus, in my mind, this is part of what the
experience IS. This IS the trip.
On the way back to the hotel I went over some basics with the
team - although I kept thinking that the only way some of this
stuff makes sense is to actually be on the road. It's one thing
to study from books- another thing to learn in the field. But one
more run through was good. Route, costs, food, support driving-
where to stop, where to be, when to wait, group riding, and so
7am is the set start time. And for as good as that sounded
I think we'll roll out at 8 or so. The first days always take a
bit longer. Getting into a system of filling bottles, filling tires,
packing up-- being ready to ride.
OK, off to bed. It's past midnight and 6am comes quick. Oh, I
can't wait to ride. To feel like you can go anywhere.
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