Coast to Coast Ride

Monday, January 29, 2007

I struggled to find a way to put the route on the blog. The daughter just explained it to me. Here it is:

It's not quite right. I can't get Google Maps to take the same route we will follow. Is there a message in that? This is close enough anyway.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

We met to discuss the route. I was, frankly, expecting some resistance from my companions because of the estimated length of the route. I thought there would be pressure to shorten it up. In particular, I thought my companions would push to cut out the loop from Missoula to Great Falls to follow the Missouri River. To my surprise, everybody seems fine with the route, relaxed about how long it might take. Of course, we may all be singing a different song when we're three months into the ride and still five hundred miles from Boston.

I discovered a young man from here in Alameda who pedalled coast-to-coast from September to November. He joined us for our dinner meeting to talk about his experience. There were some surprising elements. In many small towns, he just knocked on doors begging to use the shower. Someone always let him in. He was very open about his feelings during the trip. Toward the end, the weather was cold and he was tired and anxious to finish. Some local gave him directions and sent him over an enormous hill. Coasting down the other side, he discovered he was going in the wrong direction! The young man acknowledged weeping on his bicycle as he pedalled back over the hill.

Roy ordered a new bicycle for the ride. He had to choose between ordering a frame alone for immediate delivery or buying a factory-assembled bike for delivery in April. The factory-assembled bike is substantially cheaper option than having the shop assemble the bike from parts and the frame. Now I know Roy is excited about the ride - he went for the shop-assembled bike!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

I spent time over the Holidays trying to pin down our route: Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, New York, Massachusetts. There's a good deal of north and south in the west to east route when you seek small and scenic roads. When I added up the total mileage, I was surprised. 4600 miles! A little arithmetic - three months of riding six days per week = 78 riding days. That's sixty miles per riding day without ever pedaling off the planned route a mile to see something special along the way!

There's some pruning that could be done. I'm planning a substantial loop from Missoula to Great Falls to follow the Lewis and Clark route. Cutting that out would save a few hundred miles. Taking the ferry across Lake Michigan instead of riding up to the Upper Peninsula and then down to Lake Erie would save another couple hundred miles. The point of this ride is not to get from Astoria to Boston; it's the experience along the way. I don't want to skinny the ride down to a straight line to get it down to 90 days at the cost of losing the color along the way.

There's not much choice about route until Baker City, Oregon. That will give us several hundred miles to establish our pace and forecast how long the whole trip will take. We can decide then whether we need to streamline the ride.

In working through Minnesota and Michigan maps, I was surprised how sparsely populated most of those states are. Lots of little back roads. Members of some Montana and Michigan bicycle clubs helpfully offered advice on choosing the route in their areas. I am grateful to all the people who took the time to correspond with me.

We have to start selecting equipment soon. Roy has to order his bike and make some shakedown rides. We all need to try packing our stuff and decide whether we need additional panniers or less stuff. I'll get a physical exam to assess whether my body needs any sort of tune up too. Uh oh!