Another bike trip across the country

February 17, 2017

Two Fridays from now I’ll be in San Diego getting ready for my next bike trip across the country. The following Monday, we start riding.

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This trip is different than my Northern Trip solo trip. It’s a “we” trip. I will be one of two co-leaders with thirteen paid participants leading a van-supported trip from the Pacific to the Atlantic, ending in St. Augustine, Florida. For me it will be my debut performance as an Adventure Cycling leader. I am very excited.

Here are some trip logistics:

  • Follows the Southern Tier, Adventure Cycling’s southern most cross-country route for 58 days of riding.
  • 3054 miles through CA, AZ, NM, TX (lots of it), LA, MI, AL, FL (over 1100 miles shorter than on the Northern Tier)
  • Major cities we pass through: San Diego, Phoenix, Las Cruces, El Paso, Austin, New Orleans, Tallahassee, Gainesville (FL) and then St. Augustine.
  • My co-leader Jared and I will swap off cycling and driving the van each day.
  • We camp about 80% of the time.
  • Twelve of the participants are older than me, 59-71. One is younger at 54. Jared, my co-leader is in his early 40s.

Adventure Cycling’s bike tours are not high-end luxury bike tours. They are more about giving the participants a real outdoor cycling adventure. The leaders are facilitators who share the trip with the riders. We all share in cooking. It’s about letting the riders have their own experience and helping it be an awesome one, letting them figure things out, and only stepping in when needed to get things moving forward or keeping everyone safe and happy.

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I will use this set-up for the trip. I will be not be carrying all my gear this time but will use the front two panniers for things like my rain gear, on-the-road food, and a first-aid kit. Many of the riders will be on a road bike. 

I have been a bit anxious about taking this all on but am feeling more relaxed and confident as the take-off date approaches. Physically, I feel in good shape. Leading this trip has been an excellent motivator to get me out riding and to the gym. I’m riding up to 150 miles in a week. So, I can check that one off in terms of being prepared. Thanks to my 2015 Northern Tier trip, I feel fine about the camping and equipment. I’ve continued volunteering at BikeAthens and though I am far from an expert bike mechanic, I have a much better sense of how to fiddle with bike parts to get things running smoothly. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve replaced a bottom bracket, repacked a pedal, replaced a shifter cable, and adjusted a back derailleur. As I said to Richard, I have a much deeper understanding about just how many small subtle things can affect gear shifting.

As ACA leaders on their “epic trips,” we work up the itinerary as well using notes from previous tours so I have been working on that a bunch too. I have more time than Jared, who actually works a job, to explore the route and am enjoying do so. As a novice tour leader, investigating the overnight stops has ended up being another task that makes me feel more confident going into the trip.

The big difference on this trip, of course, is that I will be part of a group in a leader role, meaning I can’t be the one to grouch or whine. In the Adventure Cycling leadership training (excellent program), much of the focus is on group dynamics. Makes sense. I’m hoping that my years teaching and being in an administrative position will work to my advantage. A couple of weeks ago, Jared and I split of the list of riders and called them all. I spent almost an hour speaking with each one. I got off the phone feeling very positive about my fellow riders. They were not reluctant students forced to take a writing course or overwhelmed faculty members or bullying upper administrators.

A few people have asked me if I will be writing a blog about the trip. Assuming that I have time, I will post, but I will not have a goal of posting everyday. Plus,  the format/tone will, I assume, be different since I will be leading the tour and this blog is an open public one.

One thing is certain – that preparing for this trip has provided some distraction from what’s happening with our 45th president.  And what’s happening in DC has alleviated any existential angst I have about life after retirement. For the time being, life will be a combination of fighting back, riding my bike, and being there for family and friends.

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Thanks, Richard, for being such a supportive spouse. 

 

 

 

 

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12 Responses to Another bike trip across the country

  1. Nancy Glimm says:

    Sounds amazing Carol. Loved reading about your new leadership role.deep appreciation for your sharing. With love and Respect, Nancy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Steve Dempsey says:

    Great summary, thanks for the info. Question: do the participant riders carry any gear on their bikes or dies that all go into the van. If the van transports the gear, what is the baggage limit per person?

    Like

  3. cmyers2190 says:

    Bags do go in the van. Two bag limit; 25 lbs per bag. And those bags need to include your camping gear, so basically one bag for tent, sleeping bag, etc. and one for clothing, etc.

    Like

  4. Marilyn says:

    You are totally a BIKE STAR, that is like a ROCK star only on a bike.😘

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Angie Mcgsrvey says:

    You are going to be a great leader. Relax, enjoy, breathe the fresh air.

    Like

  6. revdarkwater says:

    Looking forward to reading whatever you’re able to post!

    Our tandem-riding friends Eve and Roger are riding the Southern Tier on a Bubba’s Pampered Pedalers tour, leaving March 4. Their blog is at: https://tandempalooza.com/

    Liked by 1 person

  7. turtleman2 says:

    You are going to have a wonderful time — and so are Jared and your riders. Have fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Mike ely says:

    I can’t wait to follow along during your ride this year. It sounds like you’re well prepared for the new role of leader. Have a great trip!

    Like

  9. You’ll be passing through my home town (El Paso)! We should catch some miles together when you’re here! I’m no pro,but I love cycling!

    Like

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