AXC - The bike

AXC - The bike

Monday, March 24, 2014

Who in the what now?

Ok, so I’ve been talking a lot about how I feel about this trip, how excited or nervous I am, etc, but I realize I haven’t said a whole lot about the specifics and what will be going on.
So, here ya go!

The ride starts on May 4th from Williamsburg, Virginia. I’ve got someone looking after my house, and I've taken care of most of the logistics of being away, so I feel comfortable leaving for 3 months.

The tour is with a group that I found online. We’re a group of 14, plus one tour leader. I don’t know any of the people I’ll be riding with, though many of them have sent e-mail introductions. It looks like the group skews a little older (many retirees), which is about what I was expecting. Not many people my age (or younger) can just up and put their life/job/family on hold for 3 months to trek across the US!

People are coming from all over the country, many from the Midwest and one even from as far as California. While I have the luxury of driving my bike down to the start point, most of the other riders will be shipping theirs to the start point and reassembling them there.
We’ll all get to meet for the first time over dinner on May 3rd. Then we’ll do a ‘shakedown’ ride around town to make sure everyone’s bikes work as expected and there are no surprises.

The ride is classified as ‘Self Supported’, which means we’re carrying all our own crap; Tent, sleeping bag, clothes, etc. We’ll be shopping and cooking our food every night and morning, and will be sharing the load of carrying the camp stoves and cooking material.
Yes, there will be showers at most (but not all) of the campgrounds.

We will ride about 55 miles a day, depending on terrain and availability of campsites. We might do upwards of 70 miles on flat terrain, or if we need to make up time, and maybe dip down to just 40 or 30 miles while crossing the mountains. There are ‘layover’ days built into the schedule for rest and to visit some of the sites along the way. They average about one a week, but some are 5 days apart and others are 10 days apart, depending on where we can stay, what there is to see, and how difficult those riding days are in-between stops. The trip is scheduled to take 3 months, and there’s not a lot of leeway there.

People have asked what I’ll do if there’s a mechanical issue. For that, I have some tools and spare parts so that I can fix a pretty wide variety of problems on my own. I just took a comprehensive bike maintenance class at Indian Valley Bike Works in Harleysville, and feel much better prepared to take care of problems.
For things that I can’t fix, I’ll limp to, or catch a ride into a nearby town and find a bike shop. But short of cracking my bike frame, there’s not much that can happen to my ride that would be really catastrophic.

For the route, we start off by dipping our back wheel in the Atlantic Ocean and then head pretty much due west from Virginia all the way to Colorado. Passing through Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas, before heading into Colorado and over the Rockies. Then we turn northwest into Idaho and Wyoming, taking a layover day in Yellowstone National Park, then back down through Idaho again and west to Oregon, where we’ll finish the trip by dipping our front wheel in the Pacific Ocean. We finish in a small seaside town about 100 miles south of Portland.
I’ve only been to 3 of those 10 states, so it’ll be neat/interesting to check out so many new places.
One of the things I want to try and do is take a picture of me in front of the ‘Welcome to [state]’ for every one I enter. I just hope I don’t end up in a riding fog and miss the signs!

After the trip is over, I’ll have to ship my bike back east and fly home.

That’s everything I can think of that might be relevant, without rambling too much.
If there’s more you want to know, feel free to post questions in the comments below!

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1 comment:

  1. Hi aaron
    love your gear up info. Your mentally ready for sure. Your young and strong, but heed this warning, lose everything thats not absolutely a necessity. You may want to keep that 30 pounds you carried on your trial ride 40 max as your goal weight to carry across country. You'll appreciate that weight at the first mountain you come to.