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

Reader Contribution by Rick Stiles
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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.

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.