Getting Ready and Getting There - Western North America - 2005 - CycleBlaze

Getting Ready and Getting There

Okay, I'll confess that all I did to prepare this year was to get on my bike. I've toured for more than twenty years and, even though I was chunkily overweight, I planned to start off slowly and work my way into touring. I use my bike as my main means of transportation around town - for work, play, and shopping - so it's not like I was totally out of shape.

JohnnyGunn with Hagrid in Crazy Woman Canyon
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As for getting my bike ready, I made a mistake this year. I live in Wyoming, so there's not much choice in bike shops. The guy who completely overhauled my bike last time did a great job. I wasn't aware that he was heading out of town and left it to his young assistant to do. Whether or not the guy could have done it well, he thought my old bike was a piece of doo-doo and, more than likely, his workmanship reflected this. Most years I replace the chain and cassette, true the wheels, and repack the hubs and crank. I run a 48-38-28 in front and a 13-32 in the back. I would prefer 34, but they are hard to come by - at least out in the boonies of Wyoming.

Lucy at Chief Mountain
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I have found that it is far better to ship your bike UPS from bike shop to bike shop. UPS guarantees delivery on business accounts. You don't have to schlep your bike through airports. And you don't have to worry about gorillas jumping up and down on it in baggage handling. It really doesn't cost any more than the extra baggage fee the airlines charge and is MUCH easier. You just go by the bike shop where you are starting your tour and - voila - your bike is there.

One tough thing for me to deal with is leaving my pets. Yeah, I know some people take their dogs along. I've ridden with a few people who have done this. But I have three cats. Once I tried to get my most adventurous, Stinkums, to sit in a milk crate I had bungied to the back rack. I even had it lined with towels. She stayed all of 5 seconds once I started rolling. So I have to find someone to stay in my house and take care of them. And I feel like a deadbeat Dad for leaving them.

Stinkums, Betsy, and Big Woo
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This year I flew out to San Francisco from Kansas City. I had to get a house in Topeka ready to put on the market and had gotten all of 2 hours sleep. Then the airport shuttle arrived a half-hour early only to have the plane sit on the runway for an hour before take-off. From SFO I caught the SamTrans express bus into downtown San Mateo and transferred to the bus out to Half Moon Bay. It really is a good way to get out to the coast, but I was bushed.

I've started my tours in all kinds of places - some remote - some not so. I've learned that it is wise to have a short day scheduled for your first day out just in case anything happens. I think it is important to start at a significant point - not just anywhere. I've started from train stations and bus stations and airports, but it just isn't the same. When I have started at Cape Lookout (both east and west) or Neah Bay or Okracoke Island it has made all the difference in my mindset. Yes, it takes a little more effort to get out to places like that, but it also allows you to have a moment to reflect and to think of the journey to come.

Pacific Coast Highway South of Half Moon Bay on a Nice Day in 1997
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