It’s begun. From now until the end of February, I can spend virtually all my time preparing for my trip.
This sudden freedom-to-be-single-minded isn’t random; I’ve spent a year trying to get to this point. I’ve saved up and hustled skrilla over the last year to allow myself this cushion of time, and finagled the perfect situation: I’m house-sitting, so I get a comfortable private space with no rent, in a place with mild weather. There’s no WiFi, which has a silver lining in that it forces me to get out of the house to get online and makes me less likely to waste the time that I do spend online. Plus, I’m relatively close to two REI stores; several great grocery stores; and Planet Granite, my favorite climbing gym in the country, where I’ve just bought a one-month membership. All are within a seventeen-mile bike ride.
So, I’ve been getting emails pestering me for updates on what I’m doing, or interrogating me about my training methods, previous experience, packing list, etc.
And I’m stoked on the interest [really, I am, that’s not just me being PC—the positive reception I’ve received so far was honestly pretty unexpected and has got me feeling ecstatic] but I honestly do not have time to answer all these emails [my time on the Internet’s already being spent studying the terrain and conditions of my route down to the mile, scheduling bookings, investigating camping and making arrangements with hosts, and learning about bikes from the ground up].
Here’s the full disclosure; hopefully it’ll satisfy everyone’s questions.
Last week and this week:
- 2+ long rides per week [increasing what “long” means each time; yesterday I did a thirty-mile ride, so my next ride will be thirty-five or forty]
- 2+ shorter rides per week done to my maximum capacity [anaerobic], ideally with a steep, sustained climb
- 2 rest days [meaning no long or hard bike rides], only bicycling for small, local commutes [i.e., errands like grocery runs or going to cafes to catch up on emails, or doing small loops around local trails and roads]
- Cross-train daily, but particularly on rest days. For cross-training, I’ve been climbing and doing yoga at PG, and doing NeilaRey.com workouts at home [a fantastic site, with something for everybody: some of the workouts are far too easy for me, but others completely demolish me].
- Incorporate weight loads in some of my rides, incrementally increasing the weight.
Yesterday’s thirty-mile ride was my first with weight, and while I only packed ten pounds, it showed me just how crucial minimalist packing is going to be on this trip. If you ask me, riding with a loaded bike is worse than hiking with a heavy pack, and I know plenty about that: at the end of my season working for the Parks, I had to hike out our last twenty-five miles with seventy pounds on my back…and on top of that, had to drag a friend’s eighty-pound pack for the last couple miles when half our crew came down with some crazy flu. Now when I go backpacking, I’m obscenely minimal, so much so that I’d never suggest to anyone that they ought to pack as little as I do.
Some people have asked me about what computers or heart rate monitors or what have you I'm using; the answer is "none".
- As of now, I’ve read most of The Complete Book of Long-Distance Cycling, and have been obsessively Googling articles and watching Youtube videos to answer my questions [and, before that, to figure out what the questions were that I should be asking, because I had no clue].
- I’ve been scouring sites like Adventure Cycling Association and East Coast Greenway and repeatedly, neurotically plugging my route into Google maps, one chunk at a time, to check miles and terrain and make modifications. Over and over. Revising and revising. I’m finally at a point where I’ve got the skeleton for my complete tour; there’s some wiggle-room and I’ll be making some changes, but I basically have my dates outlined, and it’s looking like the tour will take exactly [or close to exactly] four months from Key West, FL to Bar Harbor, ME.
Pretty simple. High protein. Aiming for about 125g a day [since I weigh between 120-125 lbs].
Otherwise, healthy/varied in general, low junk. [Though I’m a sucker for free food, and cave whenever the opportunity arises.]
Since a few people have wanted to nerd out about gear, I’ll jabber on about that in a separate post.
- Planning a couple multi-day bike trips in February. As of now, I'm dreaming up one up the coast, and one down the coast; hopefully I'll have time to do a few more before I leave California
- Continuing cross-training
- Continuing bookings. I don't expect to have everything finalized by the time I head out on my trip, but I want to at least be past the filtering/reference-checking/cold-calling/figuring-out-who's-actually-serious phase. [Psst: Got a serious interest in hiring me? Contact me ASAP! We don't have to schedule or confirm anything right away, but I need to get you on my list.]
- Looking into hosts and camping
- Buying the rest of the shit I need [I've got a little stack of REI vouchers for February, ka-ching!]