Pre-Ride Vancouver to Mexico-A change in plans
Here's what's the same: I am looking forward to getting on the road. I am still firming up details but the most important - I'm going for a long, solo, bike camping trip. I still dread the period of time between deciding to go for a bike ride - all the prep and scrambling and forgetting stuff - and the moment when I begin pedaling. What's forgotten is forgotten. What training or prep that didn't get done, you're stuck with it. It's still a feeling of freedom, just like when I was a teenager getting out of the house.
As for the change in plans - I never got that excited about the TransAm or mostly the one-woman race against the clock idea. I don't ride with a bike computer if I can help it. It's not my thing. I can be competitive, obnoxiously so, but I'm not sure I get anything healthy out of it.
So I've chosen a different route. I'm looking to ride from Seattle / Bellingham-ish (maybe start at Deception Pass) to Whitefish, MT. This means I will start from one of Blackburn's adopted routes, the PCH, and ride to the other, the Tour Divide. This conveniently overlaps with one of Bicycle Adventures' (where I work) tour routes, our Empire Builder Epic.
Here's the thing: I am really nervous about all the climbing in Washington state. I know I work at a bicycle tour company - and want to point out that the van carries the luggage when you ride with Bicycle Adventures! Plus Illness really got in the way of any serious training leading up to this ride. I'm healthy now but I sure don't have the legs I did last summer, the ones that carried me and my 50 pound bicycle over Leggett Pass (1,950'), then San Marcos Pass (2,224'). This time around, I'm not so sure about Rainy Pass (4,855'), after which I'll coast down just a bit then climb up to Washington Pass (5,477')… after starting at sea level the day before.
But if there weren't any doubt, there wouldn't be any point. There wouldn't be any adventure. It would just be routine - and I don't need much of a push to break out of the routine. Going to try some night riding too, if the weather cooperates around the full moon. Going to try and make some new friends. Going to try and make friends with solitude. Going to try and come back stronger than when I started. That's the plan.
- Pacific Coast Milestones -
- FROM: Seattle, WA
- DOB: 1974-09-20
- OCCUPATION: Regional Team Leader and Tour Guide at Bicycle Adventures
What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure?
I'm going to blame my fellow Ranger J.D. Pauls for this one. He told me about a new Trans-Am Race that's happening this June, and hopefully annually thereafter. After seeing 2013 Ranger footage of Nick and J.D. racing their hearts out while Carrie and I cruised down the coast eating ice cream (ok, Carrie rode a damn strong tour and I'm the one who cruised along from ice cream shop to ice cream shop)... and while I know I'm not a front-of the pack race contender, I kind of feel like maybe there's something I missed out on.
I'm looking for a different challenge this year. One that still involves ice cream, but something that pushes further toward being the strongest version of myself. I learned that phrase at Seattle's Bike to Work Breakfast, listening to a high school senior talk about his recent experiences in Seattle's Major Taylor Project. Before he joined Major Taylor, Brook had never biked out of his neighborhood. He thought that their first organized 10-mile ride around SeaTac airport would surely result in broken bones or some other major injury. But he did it. And then he rode his first century. Then did his first 200 mile ride. Brook talked about how cycling has been a means to becoming the strongest version of himself.
At the end of last year's tour I was the strongest I have ever been in my life. Physically, mentally, etc. – hands down, I was the strongest in every way. This year it's time to tap into that again, crank it up a notch... and see what happens.
Have you travelled by bike in the past?
Last year's PCH tour was my first real bike tour. I hope to add to that resume during the summer of 2014 with my new job leading tours at Bicycle Adventures! I understand I’m being made to spend three weeks in the Glacier-Banff-Jasper area… and I’m bragging about that to anyone who will listen.
What is your goal for the route?
I'm starting in Astoria, Oregon and will go as far as I can in 2 weeks on the Trans-Am route. However far I get, at the end of 2 weeks I'll go to the nearest train station and buy a ticket home.
Someday I want to do a cross-country tour, and this trip will help me decide if this is the right route for me, and if an event like the Trans-Am Race is right for me. Will I get lonely on a less-traveled route than the PCH? What will it be like with fewer amenities along the way? (Will there be enough ice cream shops!?) I'm most curious about what will it be like to race the clock a little bit.
During my tour last summer, I set out having just had a lateral appendectomy 6 weeks prior. While I got clearance from my surgeon to do the tour, I still rode conservatively, just wanting to avoid any possible problems. And then mid-way through the trip, I found out a friend would be in the Bay Area for a very limited time, and if I wanted to meet up I would need to ride several very challenging days - 70 to 80 miles over sections of highway with the word "Pass" in the name. I hemmed and hawed and ultimately decided to go for it. It was the biggest challenge thus far on the trip. It was tougher than I imagined - one day after bragging to some fisherman at the foot of Jenner Pass that not only was I going to make it another ~25 miles to Bodega Bay State Park that day, I was going to complete all 5 miles of climbing Jenner Pass without stopping.
I stopped twice, ostensibly to pee, less ostensibly to catch my breath. But I made it to Bodega Bay. And then the next day, I made the meeting.
I wouldn't have pushed myself if not for this meeting, this race against time. And if not for the meeting, I wouldn't have realized this new strength. And I wouldn't have gotten to that stronger version of myself -- the one who was shrugging off 80-mile days like they were nothing by the end of her tour.
What do you hope to get out of this journey?
I took a leadership course with the Adventure Cycling Association last fall, in their office in Missoula, MT. On the wall near the entrance is a photo and essay about an ACA member who has cycled across the country 7 times. His goal in life is to "make every second count." Whenever he feels that slipping away, he gets on his bike and rides across the country.
There has been a lot of transition in my life recently - going from a corporate desk job to an outdoors lifestyle company was huge. I'm still adjusting. I still spend a lot of time in front of the computer, and at times I still catch myself hunched over the keyboard like a vulture. Some days I struggle to find time to ride my bike. There are still too many "should's" in my mind - how I should (working!) or shouldn't spend my time (goofing off), what I should or shouldn't say, eat or do. I hope to get closer to finding my passion or purpose or true north or whatever you want to call it, that is "making every second count."
- Pacific Coast Milestones -