Journey across the USA
ACA self supported TransAm 2013 following the ’76ers route
In Missoula, Mt. on July 17, 2013. # 76
If someone would have asked me five years ago, whether or not I wanted to ride my bicycle across America I likely would have answered no. The mere thought of crossing the continent by my own power taking back roads seemed impossible to a old man like myself.
I started my journey in an attempt to exploit my limits and anticipated that failure or success would be equally likely. To imagine a journey such as the TransAm was not possible to me. It took a few weeks to reconcile the obvious fact, that if I do something, everyday to move forward, I can do anything. The important point being – don’t make wrong turns. So I would spend time researching the best option anytime I had any doubt on the best direction. This was not in my nature as I thought I was a laissez faire type person. I quickly realized that it was not in my best interest to make whimsical decisions I thought looked good at that moment. Because, if I am going in the wrong direction, every hour, every hill takes me further away from my nightly destination.
I had done several tours before the TransAm where I learned not to sweat the big stuff. No matter how intimidating the topographic map looked, it would only take an hour out of my day in most cases. And in the worst cases, I could walk and that didn’t bother me. In my mind, forward movement under my own power was the only requirement.
What did bother me were the cooking duties. I was, and still am uncomfortable preparing meals for myself and especially the responsibility of feeding 12 others. I expressed my fear to our Adventure Cycling Assoc leader, Jack Pettry. And I am so thankful that he managed to assign me to cooking duties with other more competent persons.
I retired in 2010 at the age of 58, and had been watching the sun rising daily from my desk for many years. I was looking forward to the day I would be free to enjoy each breath of the morning air.
The cathartic pleasure of simply sleeping, biking, and eating for days on end appealed to me. The relaxation induced by buying into the fact that I had no bigger task than remaining focused on being healthy and bicycling safely every moment. Which meant that I should eat, drink and rest as best I could. But, this by no means meant I was to close my eyes and relax. The trip was an intensive trial of being observant and critical every moment. A cyclist can not take even 5 seconds off from the business of navigating the roadway.
The one thought that occurs to me, as I recall the trip is that no matter how difficult a day had been, that the hardships were quickly forgotten as camp was set up and we were enjoying a beer and the comradery of fellow travelers or the quiet of complete stillness. The head winds, the cross winds, the heat, the flat tires were only a footnote to the main event, which was going the distance that day.