These rides have shown a couple of things about my character. One is that when I say I will do something, I am likely to do it. The other is that when I say I won’t do another ride, I may do it anyway.
Yes, I said that the 2019 ride from Vancouver to Tijuana that completed my journey around the country would be my last cross-country ride. And I meant it. I had ridden all 4 sides of our country, I wasn’t going to duplicate any of those routes and I had no desire to ride through the middle of the country.
But then I met Ofer Yitzhaki when I was riding from Lafayette, CA to Davis near Sacramento. I was resting by the side of the road when Ofer approached on his bike and stopped to say hello. I asked where he was headed and he said he was also riding to Davis, though from San Francisco. Since I was returning home from Davis by Amtrak, I thought he might be doing the same so I asked if he was riding to the train station. When I learned he was instead going to a motel to meet his support vehicle, I asked if this was part of a longer ride. It was, he was headed for Yorktown, Virginia! My interest in that ride increased when I saw some of his postings and noticed the apparent lack of traffic, traffic having been something that had become an increasing concern of mine.
The thought of doing that same ride stayed with me. Why? Why was I even considering another long ride? I would say for some of the same reasons that motivated me before. One is my increasing age. I am now 76. Of course, everyone gets older every year, and I am no different. But the difference is that at this age the declines in some of the things I can do seem to be accelerating. Some of the weights that used to be warmups in the gym are now heavier than the most I can lift. At one time I could bench press 280 pounds - I weighed about 170 - and I considered 225 pounds to be part of my warm-up; now my shoulders won’t let me do the bench at all. I was able to leg press over 800 pounds. Now I am topping off at around 580 pounds.
And the list goes on. . .
So how do those declines factor into my decision to try another long ride? Stubbornness. Or more accurately as good friend Paul Barendregt said about a previous Laura's Ride, Ego. I want to show myself that I can still do it. I expect to be a bit slower and will break the daily rides into shorter distances. But I intend to complete the ride.
I have also found that having a cross-country ride in my future helps motivate me to ride now. I enjoy riding but there are days when getting on the bike just seems like too much effort. Or it’s too cold. Knowing that I have the long ride coming up makes me do the daily rides. I know that if I don’t, the long ride will be a catastrophe. Or impossible. And the most important benefit is that those regular rides have me in a lot better shape than if I didn’t do them.
I decided on the Seattle to Key West route because I hope that I have 2 more such rides left in me, that one, and then Plattsburg, NY to San Diego, CA in 2024. The 2 rides would make an X across the country and I like that thought. We will see.
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