The Pacific Ocean; June 26:
The Atlantic Ocean; August 16:
Sponsors’ Appreciation; the accomplishment is revealed (Lafayette, CA):
Five days before the end of the ride I had told Ale that if the ride continued as it had I would have accomplished something that few if any others have ever done. It was something that neither Nick nor I did last year when riding from Santa Monica to St. Augustine and it is something that I doubt even much more accomplished riders than I have done.
Ale asked me at the end of the ride what it was I had done but I wanted to wait to share it when I got back home. Although she managed to figure it out, she kept my secret.
Those of you who attended our post ride supporters’ appreciation gathering at Mangia’s in Lafayette already know what the accomplishment is.
No, it is not that I have now ridden across the country 2 times (“Twice Across America”) because there are any number of people who have done that, and more. In fact, I met one of them, Dave Haase of Attitude Sports in Fond du Lac, WI – see my August 3 posting – who has ridden across the country some 6 times with Race Across America with any number of high finishes, including a 2nd in 2016. Nor is it my age because I know that older people than I have ridden across our country including, I am sure, self supported. But I would be surprised if many, if any, of them did what I did on this ride.
So, what did I do? I wish I could say that my most noteworthy accomplishment was due to my endurance, perseverance or skill. But no, instead it was due to luck and a fortuitous choice I made before the ride started. I rode a road bike with “race” tires – 25 mm rather than the wider tires most would tour on – from the coast of Oregon to the coast of New Hampshire, including on highways, back country roads, gravel roads, dirt roads, over broken pavement and occasionally glass AND I NEVER GOT EVEN ONE FLAT TIRE! No, not one. What a contrast that is from last year when there were days when both Nick and I had multiple flats.
I don’t consider myself to be superstitious, but when people started asking me how many flats I had – no doubt remembering all that we suffered last year – I didn’t want to say anything for fear of “jinxing” my incredibly lucky streak. Then as I got close to the end I was hoping that I could go the entire ride without a flat not just to avoid the inconvenience of having to replace the tube on the road, but so I could bag the unique distinction of making the whole trip without a flat.
I have been asked how I did it and my typical answer has been, simply, “luck.” To be fair, though, I think that the pre-ride decision to use Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II tires also played a part because they were great. However, after getting home and going on a few rides, my explanation NOW is that I didn’t get any flats on Laura’s Ride North because I wasn’t riding with Nick. How did I reach that conclusion? Because after having a few more rides with others without a flat, my very first ride with Nick after I got home resulted in a flat tire. And I got it before we had gone 20 of our 80 mile ride. If that, when combined with all of the flats we got during Laura’s Ride 2016, isn’t irrefutable proof, I don’t know what could be. (Please, don’t be a spoil sport and point out that correlation does not establish causation.)
Speaking of rides since I have gotten home. I have been pleasantly surprised that my riding after Laura’s Ride North has been significantly different than it was after Laura’s Ride 2016. Last year I felt depleted when I got back and that feeling lasted to some extent through the start of this year’s ride (which no doubt accounted for much of the apprehension I felt before starting this ride). In contrast, this year I have felt stronger than when I started the ride. I still lag behind the group on some climbs but I manage to keep up more often and feel considerably better than I did last year. I think that the main reason is that last year I suffered from heat exhaustion from riding in so much higher temperatures than I encountered this year and that it took me literally months to finally fully recover. Plus, of course, I would like to think that this year’s ride helped build some endurance and strength even though I still resisted pushing too hard because I was always conscious of the miles I yet had to ride. Maybe, though, I’m just getting younger. (Sandi would scoff at that given all of the aches and pains I have had recently.)
Flashes of numerous places I saw this past summer go through my mind. Without going into boring details, I will say that it was an adventure I am glad to have experienced. And images of small towns and coast lines on the East Coast also flash through my mind. But that is for another time.