When I tell people I’m riding my bike across the country, responses usually drift (like loaded touring bikes in a crosswind) into two categories:
- Followed by: Are you going alone or with a group? Mostly alone. WTF?
- Followed by: Are you going alone or with a group? Mostly alone. Awesome!
I’ll lay out the route again, in case you somehow didn’t catch the information superhighway blazing a dusty path across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, my email, this blog, most of the fine country of Italy (aka the Motherland), the majority of Central and Eastern Colorado and Southern Utah. On September 30, I fly from St. George, Utah to San Francisco, California. I’ll grace my brother and his girlfriend, Kathy and my uncle Brian and his boyfriend, Nico and their couches with my presence. And I’ll attempt to get (the rest of) my act together. Sometime between October 7th and 10th I hope to be heading south down the California coast, all the way to San Diego. There, I’ll pick up the Southern Tier Bike Route, following Adventure Cycling’s maps all the way to St. Augustine, Florida. Which brings me to my next point: if anyone feels the need to whip their bike out and join me for a few days or a week, please do. Or even a long weekend somewhere in the dirty or not so dirty South. I’m happy to spend time with me, myself and Penny (my steed), but I’ll also be stoked to see a familiar face. Or you could always send me something… hint, hint…
Based on the California route and time, I estimated when I might arrive in the following locations. I’m also listing what I think is the closest airport, according to the Googles, based on fastest driving directions. Of course, you could always meet me elsewhere, but this gives us all half a clue of my approximate, maybe location. I am basing my illustrious guesstimates on an October 10 start date and giving myself a week’s cushion:
- San Diego, California: arrive October 30-November 6
- Closest Airport: San Diego International Airport
- Please send cookies.
- Silver City/Kingston, New Mexico: November 27-December 4
- Closest airport from Kingston: El Paso International Airport (130 miles away), Tucson International Airport (160 miles away)
- Please send turkey. With gravy.
- Fredericksburg, Texas or (hopefully) Austin, Texas: December 25-January 1
- Closest airport from Austin: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (6.7 miles away from Austin; 84 miles from Fredericksburg)
- Please send sugar cookies and champagne.
- Vancleave, Mississippi: January 26-February 2
- Van what?
- Closest airport: Gulfport-Biloxi, MS (25 miles away, international airport), Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (101 miles away)
- Please send Haribo gummies.
- St. Augustine, Florida: February 16-February 22
- Closest Airport: Jacksonville International Airport (54 miles away), Daytona Beach International Airport (56 miles away)
- Please send return ticket to Utah and/or Italy.
Since I arrived in the hallowed, cactus-sprinkled halls of Utah a week ago, I’ve been biking (what some people would call training 😉 ) and organizing. The latter is maybe not my strong point. Case in point, my dad calls me Hurricane Sylva. Second case in point, my room looked like this until yesterday afternoon:Turns out it’s not easy to plan a four to five month bike tour. Then again, I already knew that. It’s not my first bike rodeo, to be sure. But it’s my first real solo one, which makes it both exhilarating and exhausting. Especially when confronted landslides just south of Big Sur, one of which keeps Highway 1 closed until summer of 2018. Detour, anyone?
Friday, I spent five plus hours finalizing my route to San Diego. I talked to Forest Service representatives in Monterey and King Counties. I bugged the folks at Santa Cruz High School to see if rumors on the Internets were true about camping in their lawn (no). I called State Park campgrounds to ask about hike & bike sites and emailed Warm Showers hosts in Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and Manhattan Beach. I talked Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) folks a handful of times, mostly trying to unearth the best inland route to Highway 101. Eventually, a soft-spoken man in District 5 gifted me (via email) the missing link: an interactive, as-realtime-as-they-can-get-it map just for cyclists. October is popular for bike tourists sieging the coast and their GIS (geographic information systems) employee had been slaving away on the map to help cyclists like me navigate around the detours.
I also talked to my father, the human GPS, consulted Googlemaps, my dad’s Atlas, a million and one blogs and countless State Park web sites. Whew!
In the end, the estimated mileage (iced by the Big Sur detour) tallies to 782 miles, with 27, 997 feet of climbing. Probably sounds like WTF to some of you and awesome to others of you, right? To me, it just sounds like a bike tour, where things like this can happen (as it did on a recent bike tour in Friuli and the Alps with Lisa):Yesterday, I finally whipped my room into a semblance of order like an adventure-flavored milkshake. But, like many things in life, it got worse before it got better:And I had to set up my tent, just to check it was still a tent. My parents’ bedroom had the most room… and by then it was evening so, cheers!Then, the cleanup of Hurricane Sylva…
… a small miracle. Mother Nature agreed:I spent some quality time with the ‘rents. Mom made chocolate chip cookies and we all hovered around the kitchen counter like Trumps’ fingers around a Twitter screen, making ourselves slightly sick on warm, gooey treats. Everything in moderation, including self control, right Lisa?Oh what’s that, Lisa? You remember me saying I was going to actually finish recounting the tales of our last bike tour? Yes, ahem, that’s right. Right after a break from our sponsors (that would be me) for a much-needed advertising tutorial (that would be a hike). Because I’ve been suffering–yes, suffering–lately. I’ve caught an acute case of cyclitis. Never heard of it? Symptoms range from excessive carb cravings to unconscious gear buying. But doctors agree the most common symptom (indicative of an incurable strain) is a chronic lack of time to finish blogging about your last bike tour because you’re too busy biking and obsessively planning your next one. It’s especially grave if you leave for your next tour in less than two weeks. I’m screwed!
So, until next time when I attempt to self-medicate my cyclitis by tying up my last tour in the Italian alps with the lovely Lisa. There will be castles…There will be more gear explosions…There will be exhaustion…And there will be Lisa’s favorite thing: laying on the tarp, watching the sky and talking about life.
Until next time!