You're Gonna Do What?: Committing to a Cross-Country Cycling Tour

http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-transportation/youre-gonna-do-what.aspx

Who is gonna carry all your gear? What are you gonna do if the bicycle breaks down?  Where are you gonna stay?  When are you gonna go?  Why are you gonna do something like that?  These and half a dozen other questions pelted me like a hail storm when I first told our friends I was going to ride a bicycle from Oregon to Maine this summer.Rick Stiles recumbent bike

After the initial flurry of excitement was over it slowly began to sink into my thick noggin what my mouth had committed my body to.  Somewhere along the line my mouth said ‘Yes’ before my brain got fully engaged.  Now I was indeed looking at a 3 month 3600+ bicycling journey from sea to shinning sea with a friend (I am rethinking the friend comment).

The first command my brain issued was, ‘dude, you better get yourself out of this.’  So, I decided to search the internet and find out how many old overweight and under exercised men died while bicycling cross country.  Unfortunately, my wife, while studying my life insurance policies on the kitchen table, told me that I was not cancelling.  It turns out she wasn’t even letting my side of the bed get cold before going on a trip of her own.  As she succinctly put it, ‘if I have to cremate and package you in Tom’s panniers, you are going on that trip.’

The second command my brain issued was, ‘dude, you better get to planning cause there ain’t that much time left.’ So, it was not Christmas, but I started making a list and checking it twice cause I wanted to find out what’s needed and what’s nice.  Let’s see, the first thing was a bicycle (haven’t ridden in 15+ years), then the camping equipment required, then the clothing, then the panniers to pack everything in.

As it turns out, Tom wanted to do this ride on a recumbent bicycle.  Re-cum-bent bicycle!  Real men ride regular bicycles and complain about jock itch and sore butts and carpal tunnel syndrome and aching shoulders and sore necks.  Then I got to thinking.  Perhaps leaning back in a nice comfortable seat, hands resting leisurely on a set of handlebars, and my head looking forward with a clear field of vision might not be so bad, after all.  Surely, at my age, the ol’ ego isn’t quite so fragile.

Well, time and tide wait for no man, so off I went to find a re-cum-bent that would fit my needs.  In the next several articles I plan to discuss my bicycle selection process, some key bicycle accessories, the type of gear I decided to carry, and how I am physically and mentally preparing for the ride.

Come along and join me in this adventure.  Besides talking about getting ready for the trip we will meet some wonderful people, hear some great stories, and see some fantastic sights, all from the seat of a re-cum-bent bicycle.  Together we will see what really makes America so beautiful.