Yes, I am doing one more, this time from Vancouver, Canada to Tijuana, Mexico. This time there is a compelling logic to the ride. Really.
The first ride, from Santa Monica to St. Augustine in 2016 with fellow cyclist and now friend Nick Bloisa was the culmination of a long held dream of riding across the country. There was excruciating heat (peaking at 128 degrees but with a number of miles at 110), stifling humidity, endless roads through barren landscape, days seemingly without end in Texas, numerous flats and rides in the rain.
But there was the knowledge that we could, and would, just keep pedaling despite those conditions. The feel of my body while doing a long ride after days of long rides, the feeling and knowledge that I could ride much farther and much longer than I had ever done before. There was also the freedom of riding, the seeing a large part of our country at a pace and from a perspective that let us actually see and experience it. Meeting various people and seeing new places. There was the camaraderie of riding with Nick and going from being occasional riding buddies to friends. The adventure of traveling and sharing experiences with our drivers\support team, Alejandra and Sarah, and of Ale evolving from that role to also becoming a friend. There was the ultimate satisfaction, excitement and, yes, relief, of dipping our wheels in the Atlantic at the end of the ride. And of course the memories that the adventure generated. And yes, there was the knowledge that our ride helped raise more than $20,000 to help victims of breast cancer.
The second ride, in 2017 from the coast a few miles west of Astoria, Oregon to Portsmouth, New Hampshire was in response to the nagging guilt that I had chosen the southern route in part to avoid the mountains in the north. This ride differed significantly in that I was the lone cyclist, except for at the very end when Bob Bernoth led me to the shore, though I was so very fortunate to again have Ale accompany me in the SAG vehicle. Riding alone meant that there was absolutely no drafting while riding and no one with whom to share the ride itself. Miles and miles, hours and hours, all by myself. Just my bike, the passing countryside and me.
The scenery of parts of the ride was significantly different from the first ride; the mountains, rivers and forests of Oregon, the green and lakes of Michigan and Wisconsin, the mountains of Wyoming, North Dakota and parts of the East Coast. New York’s Niagra Falls. The beauty of the north east, including Northern New York, Vermont and New Hampshire. But there was also the high plains of much of Oregon, Idaho and similar landscape of Wyoming and North Dakota, all of which was reminiscent of stretches through parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. And again there was seeing a large part of our country at a pace – 60 to 100 miles in a day rather than in an hour – that few people ever experience. Again the satisfaction of dipping my wheels in the Atlantic, this time near Portsmouth, though not quite the same excitement as the first time. But again Ale and Sandi were there to greet me at the end. And again the satisfaction of having helped breast cancer victims through your generous support.
Last year’s ride had no logic to it. I had already crossed the country, twice. I had survived the deserts, heat and humidity of the south – during the summer, no less – and I had ridden the mountains of the north. But something drew me back and I wanted to see more of the beautiful country of the north east, to ride along the Atlantic coast and to then ride the causeway to Key West. I was rewarded with the beauty of Maine – in Ale’s and my opinions, the most beautiful state we have been in – although I saw less of the Atlantic than I had expected. That was both because less of the ride was directly on the coast and because when the ocean was only a hundred or so yards away there were often either residences or sand dunes blocking the view. But there were gaps through which I did see the ocean, beautiful homes and I then had water on both sides of me during long stretches while riding to Key West.
This ride ended not by dipping my wheels in the ocean but by standing on a pier over the Atlantic because there was no good alternative. But then the ride hadn’t started by dipping in the Pacific, either, since I had started inland in Quebec City, Canada. Another difference was that neither Ale nor Sandi was cheering at the end. Although Ale had accompanied me on most of the ride, Patty and then Johnny drove from Charleston to the end and Sandi couldn’t make the trip to Florida though she had again provided significant online help and support during the ride. I was again the lone cyclist but that meant that I could rest whenever I wanted. Again your generosity made this ride meaningful by providing help to breast cancer victims.
Although many will say I am just rationalizing because I had indicated that each previous cross country ride would be my last, this ride truly does have a compelling logic to it. I looked at a map with my 3 previous routes and it is simply incomplete. It lacks a line down the West Coast to complete the square. Vancouver to the Mexico border will accomplish that. At 72 years old, it will complete the Journey, a journey that has given me numerous great memories.
I hope you follow along. (Click the “Subscribe” tab and sign up to be notified of new postings.) And, of course, your donations would be great!
Oh, yes, the photos at the top include a new addition to our family, Sky, first at 5 weeks then 19 weeks. In january we sadly lost our beloved Blue, below.