Mid-winter rambling - Between the Ends of America - CycleBlaze

Mid-winter rambling

December 3, 2010

By the time I finished pumping up my bike's front and back tires with my small frame pump, all the muscles in my arm were tight and I was starting to sweat. Both tubes were mostly empty but I wasn't surprised. Before this afternoon, the bike hadn't left its spot along the wall of our living room for at least two months. I've been really bad about getting outside and riding lately, mostly due to the fact that between October and May in Seattle it's always either pouring down rain or cold enough that you lose feeling in your ears and dripping snot freezes to the end of your nose when you ride.

Not today. I walked outside to find clear skies, 45 degrees and sunshine. Even my lazy ass can't turn that down.

It wasn't a long ride. In fact, it took me longer to pump the tires, oil the chain and change into roughly eight layers of clothing than it did to ride 13 miles to Shoreline and back along the Interurban Trail. Still, it was great to get back on the road and spend some time with an old friend. It made me remember how much better I feel after a good ride. And it brought the number of miles I've ridden since the end of the summer to 22, which means I'm averaging about seven miles per month. My intense pre-trip training program is right on schedule.

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I paid for my airplane tickets today, so it's official: I'm leaving Seattle on April 21. I fly first to Dallas and then on to Miami. I'll catch a few hours of sleep in a hotel somewhere near the airport before getting on a plane to Key West the next morning. You know what that means: I get to have my balls touched by a TSA officer two days in a row. As if the bike trip wasn't exciting enough, now I have something else to look forward to.

It's too bad all of the fun is still four and a half months away. In the meantime I'll be working as much as I can, enjoying the holidays, and concentrating on the things that really matter. Things like watching college football, managing my fantasy hockey team, taking naps, and introducing Desiree to my Dutch oven. Even though I haven't been riding much, I'll be keeping myself in good shape. I'm already playing ice hockey twice a week and I've started going to the gym at least three or four days a week as well. I'm supporting all of this with a steady diet of bacon cheeseburgers, Mexican food and cookies.

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February 22, 2011

The holiday season sped by in a flash and 2011 kicked off quickly around here. For the past month or so I've been finishing up the writing, editing and design of a 200-something page book that's going to press this week. I've put in some long days and a few all-nighters while doing my best impression of a professional, trying not to screw things up too badly, and reassuring my clients that the chances of a motor home or 18-wheeler running me over this summer are not as high as they think.

In between marathon Adobe InDesign sessions and flipping through style guides I managed to squeeze in a mid-winter hockey pilgrimage to New York City in the first week of February. I spent eight days taking in three NHL games, walking all over Manhattan and Brooklyn, and living almost entirely on pizza and street vendor kebabs. I tried my hardest to blend in with everyone else in the city by putting on a surly expression and rushing from one thing to another, but had such a good time experiencing the hockey, the neighborhoods, the food, and the energy of the place that I could never quite wipe the big, stupid, happy smile off my face. It was the most fun I've had in a long time.

Home life is normal right now, but we're anxiously getting ready for big changes. Desiree is finishing up grad school applications this week. She's also trying to figure out where to live while her boyfriend is gone for four months on this ridiculous bike trip he won't stop yammering about. We're both apprehensive about being away from our best friend for so long. And we're still a couple of months away from knowing what city we'll be living in when I get back. Fortunately, we've been distracted from this stuff lately by Desiree's baby hedgehog. If you've never seen one in person, you're missing out. He's essentially a tiny ferret covered in hundreds of deceptively sharp spikes that sleeps roughly 23 hours out of every day, starts to burrow every time you make a noise or turn on a light, and poops more than any living thing should reasonably be expected to poop. He's amazing.

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About a month ago I caved to peer pressure and ditched my foam Fizik Rondine seat in favor of the Brooks B-17 saddle that every bike tourer between here and Brisbane swears by. Nothing about the hard, black leather or the shiny metal rivets makes it look even a little bit comfortable, and right now it's just slightly better than sitting on a couple of two-by-fours. But with enough seat time, leather treatment, and words of encouragement I think I can break it in before I leave.

The weather is still mostly a disaster around here, but I'm slowly working my way back into riding shape. I managed to bust out 40 miles last week and have put around 150 on the bike since the start of the year. It's not a lot, but I'm happy to be back on the road again, and each ride gets a little easier than the one that came before. If I can get around 500 miles in before I have to pack and ship the bike in the second week of April I think I'll be set. That probably wouldn't be true if I were starting from Virginia and heading straight into the Appalachians, but Florida and Georgia make it simple for the lazy man to ease his way into a cross-country ride. I looked at the elevation profiles a few weeks ago and learned that I won't hit a hill higher than 100 feet until almost two weeks into the trip. I love you, Florida.

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