So I thought I’d write down some of my thoughts now that the big bike trip is over. Several people have asked me if I would do it again. Yes, absolutely. Even though the heat was at times very hard to deal with, the ride was very beautiful. I had a great time spending time and talking with Stefani who didn’t complain a bit.
What surprised me on the trip? I was not as sore as I thought I would be. That is not to say that I was not fully ready to get off the bike nearing the end of the day’s ride, I definitely was. And I was sore for a while after getting off the bike but usualy by the next morning I was good to go. My rear was a little sore every day but the biking shorts did help with that. It was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. The thing I had the most trouble with is pain in my hands and to some extent my shoulders. I constantly tried to shift my hand positions while riding but even so my palms hurt every day. Wearing the gloves did make it bearable but I would like to research a little to see if other people have similar issues and how they deal with it. Stopping to rest and get water at regular intervals was a great way to alieviate some of the discomfort and fatigue. The shoulders did not hurt until later in the week, I think it was mostly because of the posture on the bike for such long periods of time.
What would I do different? If I knew if was going to be so hot every day I would make plans to alternate each camp night with a hotel or B&B. I think I would rig up another water botle or two to take with me because there were a few stretches of path where there was no easy access to water. Sometimes it was not obvious when stopping at a “town” if there were any stores there. It might be a good idea to check the maps closer at intervals along the way for places to get water and mark how close to the trailhead they are. I would also practice a few longer rides with full weight on the bike. Time just didn’t permit us to really do that easily. Front panniers would be nice to more evenly distribute the weight on the bike. Both of our bikes were back heavy which made it a little more difficult to lift the bike over things or push them up very steep inclines. Fortunately we did not have to do that much on this trail. One thing I was irritated with was the Sporks that came with my Dualist cookset, they are very flimsy. A better set of silverware would have been nice. Using the MSR Pocket Rocket was awesome, it boils water in no time flat. I would also recommend Good To Go Meals for interesting and tasty dehydrated meals. We had the Pad Thai and the Indian Vegetable Korma and both were good. That is not to say you need to buy dehydrated meals though, you can certainly get by a little cheaper by improvising. We also had Hummus-Tuna wraps that we created ourselves for lunch. Tuna in Foil packs mixed with a little hummus (Casbah packaged, just add water) were pretty good. We occasinally bought some fresh fruit to snack on, and stored it in a insulated lunch bag we got at a dollar store. We had a bunch of the Don’t Go Nuts Granola Bars which were fantastic snacks. Did we take to much stuff? Yes and no, we could have done without things but overall I think we did pretty well. I think I would trade out the cookset for a simpler metal cup that could be used to boil the water. My sleeping bag was a cheap flannel one which really would not have been enough if the temperature would have been cooler. I would like to invest someday in a little nicer down bag, something that would compact well. The polar bottles worked well, it was very refreshing to have cold water to drink.
How was the milage? I am not a world class biker, I am probably below average and more on the slow side but I thought 45-65 miles a day was a great choice. More than that would have been very rough. If you want to do more sight seeing at stops along the way, I would cut the milage down some. We did most of our sight seeing on the trail itself. I think I calculated about 380 miles total, the trail itself is 330 miles. Several of the towns have difficult hills to get to places. Getting to the Divide was a tiring uphill ride but that downhill right after it was heaven. The trail would be more difficult northbound I think…
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