I hope this note finds you well.
It may seem like a cliché but this spring I had a life-changing event. At 9:00 AM on March the 5th, Annette and I dipped the rear wheels of our bicycles in the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, California. Over the next nine weeks, we rode a total of 3000 miles, at fifty miles a day, across the southern tier of states. At 1:00 PM on May 5th we rolled the front wheels of our bikes into the ocean at St. Augustine Beach, Florida. It was an excellent adventure and a phenomenal experience that I will not soon forget.
In the course of our travels from west to east, the first fifteen hundred miles were almost all mountains and deserts. Before this trip, my exposure to the deserts of the southwest U.S. has been short vacations; I had never actually experienced the immensity of the desert and the intensity of the sun and the wind.
Forgive me, but I must put on my Captain Obvious Hat – Texas is a BIG place. It took us a full three weeks to go from El Paso to the eastern border of the state. Kerrville, Texas in the Hill Country was almost exactly one-half way across the country. From the stark deserts of west Texas to the lush Piney woods of southeast Texas the scenery changes every hundred miles or so.
From the western border of Louisiana until we arrived at the Atlantic coast I could have been riding in my own backyard. Crossing the south, we encountered wonderful nice people, large rivers and swamps, alligators, Cajun music and food, barbeque on every corner, seafood and the Gulf Coast resorts. As with the western leg of the trip, we spent most of our time in small towns and saw a side of the country it is easy to miss when riding on the freeways.
For the full nine weeks, I never turned on television, radio or internet for news. We generally went to bed when the sun went down and got up when the sun came up. If I did feel the need to log-on, it was almost always to check out the weather for the day. Most of the time, however, I simply walked outside, put my finger up in the air to see what the temperature was and which way the wind was blowing. Headwinds and tailwinds are most important to bicycle riders.
Most days we rode six to seven hours and were off the road by about 3:30 in the afternoon. We started eating when we got up in the morning and didn’t quit until we went to bed. We ate anything that got in our way and drank as much beer as we wanted. Despite our conspicuous consumption, I lost fifteen lbs. and Annette lost ten.
It’s impossible to fully describe the trip and its impact in one short essay. There were a number of facets to this trip that stand out in my mind. Over the next several months, I will go into more detail about this excellent adventure.
Have a good journey.