The Aftermath

The plan was to sleep in. It sounded so sweet; not having to get up and ride. But it also sounded like hell; not riding. It might have been 5:53am when I first looked at my clock- by now i was on auto-pilot, getting up in a pitch black motel room without warning. And sure enough I wasn't falling back asleep. Oh well.

It was nice out- like 80 and dry at 7am as I made my way to the lounge for my fix of wireless internet. Made some updates, watched the sun creep higher and warm the pavement quickly. No rush to see who would wake up next. No rush at all.

After getting all our gear together and setting out for breakfast it was 9:30 or so. Then breakfast - at Denny's. Nothing but healthy food now- no excuses. Well, maybe one more day. You could tell the mood was calm. The stories easy to tell but the locations already growing hazy- was it Winchester Bay or Humbug Mountain? Regardless of the name the memories kept them alive.

We headed to San Diego- tunes blaring, computers churning. A/C cranking, flying at 75mph changing from crazy bikers to tourists in one fell swoop.

video clip: rolling on 4 wheels to San Diego »

San Diego. It only took a few hours before we were at a Days Inn planning our day of laziness. REI, car wash, food, drinks, sight seeing. It went quick- packing up the bike, washing the car, getting ready to go back. And before soon it was time for dinner. Cruising the Gas Lamp section of San Diego (that's what we called it) we found tons of people out on a Saturday night. Honestly, it was worse than dropping us into the middle of the desert. We where in the middle of a jumpin city and we were still half dazed. It was such a rich experience- so consuming0 that to flip the switch wasn't as easy as it was at the start. Yesterday I biked from Mecca to Mexicali. So? The day before that I was in Yucca Valley. And?

We woke up, headed to the airport and were transported back to DC. Shock set it. Morning leg pain isn't that bad, right? Here we are.

So many thoughts rumbling. Where to start? How to grab them all? And then express them as I conceptualize them. Not easy.

It was a great trip. Ice cream is sweet. Biking is fun. The sun makes me happy. God loves us. Friends and family rule. Dogs don't always bite. Hot showers are the best. Pop-tarts and beer are "ride food". Pain hurts. Deserts are hot. Roadside pee's are liberating. People are hilarious. Gatorade is good the first 20 days. Music is key- singing is personal. One chain ring is enough. Laughter is a necessity. You get the idea.

The unofficial tour song is Rollin Thru My Hood (mp3). Don't ask why- it just is. Maybe the various interpretations by tour members, maybe the randomness, or the fact that it was found on the side of the road early in the adventure- and it made it through the whole trip- a few times stuck in the CD player. Don't tell Avis.

Best and Worst. It's hard to say- and obviously everyone has their own but there were some that came up over and over. In terms of riding days, Avenue of the Giants (day 12) was a high for everyone. Cruising through the majestic redwoods with a tail wind was a thrill. The miles came easier and the day was gorgeous. And we even gained considerable elevation without a worry. On the other hand, the cold rainy days really cut to the bone and made it challenging- mentally and physically. Days 4 and 10 made for the harshest cold rain we had all trip. Getting through those days without cursing a few times was even more challenging. When it sucks everything sucks. "Just when you get a nice day, you get something thrown at you to balance it out- oh, you want some hills, some rain, maybe a flat tire!"

My favorite "camping" was when I actually got to experience the night. No tent- just a bag out under the stars. Coincidentally it was also the night we slept on the side of the road - no campsite. But it was perfect. Quiet, dark, cool- the stars as bright as the new iPod screens. A slight slope to the feet. Then at about midnight the moon was rising over the mountain edge. It completely changed the atmosphere from complete darkness to seemingly bright- like dusk in comparison. I could make out everything - the contrast was huge. And slowly through the night the moon rose straight above me when I got up at 6am. The light from the sun was turning the sky blue and yet the moon was visible for hours later. It was a great transformation, a relaxing evening, and the best way to sleep outdoors. Never mind the scary stories about "critters" coming to eat you - we stunk so bad no critter would want any part of this. And there was minimal pack-up in the morning- just stuff the bag away.

"I like 6 and 7" - my favorite quote. There were a ton of fun quotes - things said that made my stomach hurt, gasp for air, and laugh out loud. But I come back to this one. Maybe it was the set up. The delivery. The lack of concern. The fact that she was entirely happy with this solution. No complaints. Or that it was said at the top of the steepest climb of the trip. Riding a mountain bike might lead you to believe that it would be a harsher ride, but she didn't give you that impression once. Totally happy while riders with $2000+ road bikes groaned. As she climbed Lane Road on day five she got various advice that she should use some lower gears - but she wouldn't have it, they didn't work well (or at all) and she liked two gears. My first thought was a high gear and a low gear: well, that's not super efficient but it gets the job done. So I kiddingly say "gears 1 and 8" as if that was a restriction. Oh no- I like 6 and 7! To bike from Vancouver (Canada) to anyplace- let's say Portland- is a feat in itself. But with two gears- right next to each other? Who knows what gears she really used. Who cares. She was happy riding the way she wanted. It still makes me smile.

Beer and hot dogs at 10:15am. Ice cream anytime. The diet was hard to keep up. But with the right influential advisors we kept at it all trip long- fueling our bodies like incinerators. Feeding it anything all the time. It was a tasty delight. But take a careful look at each day - a careful balance between carbs and sweets- and add some salt. It seemed to work just fine - I wouldn't change a thing.

No Advil. It was tempting to take some Advil every now and then to ease some rough edges. But I kept thinking back to the last trip when eliminating the pain made me forget what my body was really doing- where it really needed some help, not just forget that it was being torn up. Luckily my body reacted well to what I threw at it. No major aches and pains- not physically. And so I left the entire bottle as it was when I started the trip - full.

Total miles for all riders was about 9,000 - 10,000! The whole route was around 1,950 miles long. Some easy and some not so easy. All of them an adventure. We averaged close to 90 miles a day for 22 riding days. And we took two days off.

The bike box. Safe at home (last photo). It made it back with a ton of stuff - more than even on the trip out there. This is not recommended but certainly possible. Thanks to Tim for sitting on my bike in order to close it. Here's a list of items that made it:
standing "mega" bike pump
3 person tent
camp stove
first aid kit
3 cable locks
sleeping bag
air mattress
2 road reflectors
pair of cycling shoes
camel bak mule
4 bungee cords
camp chair
tool bag with tools
3 large water bottles
profile seat tube water bottle cages
2 regular extra tires
1 extra foldable tire
2 license plates (ca, wa)
bike light
the bike, frame, wheel set, pedals, seat and aero bars

That's it for now. Next up: Costa Rica? Portugal? Tour de France? Iowa?