I'm safely home. Deborah met me at LAX and I'm catching up on hugs and kisses that I missed. It took seven weeks to ride my bike from Los Angeles to Boston; it took less than six hours to fly back. I had a window seat on the plane and could look down on the approximate route that we took riding our bicycles the other way. Wow, is the U.S. of A. big! I'm suffering a little separation anxiety - my trusty bicycle is en route and won't be here for a week, but it's good to be home.
If you decide that you, too, want to ride your bicycle across the United States, I offer the following suggestions and comments:
Go with Cross Roads Cycling Adventures! Tracy and her crew will take care of you. They have years of experience, are highly organized and efficient. All you have to do is ride your bicycle from hotel to hotel and CR will take care of all the rest.
Don't take stuff you don't need. At a minimum, all you really need, in addition to the stuff you will carry on your bicycle, is: bike shorts (1), jersey (1), bike socks (2 pair), arm coolers, street shorts (1), street shirt (1), windbreaker, sandals or Crocs, and a toothbrush. [You will need a camelback or equivalent for the desert crossings - send it home after.] Everything else is optional.
Wash your bicycle clothing in the motel sink each night. Cross Roads provides detergent. After washing, roll the wet clothes in a towel to pre-dry them, hang them up, and they will be dry in the morning. [Tom R. suggested a ShamWow or equivalent in place of the towel]
Get trip insurance. Riding a bicycle is potentially dangerous. You've paid a lot of money to take this trip. Get trip insurance.
Take a digital camera and get a "bento box" for your bike. It's much easier to get to your camera when it's in the bento box.
Buy a good quality road bike from a professional bike shop. Do not spend less than $1,500 for your bike. [Carbon frames are softer rides than Aluminum, steel, or Titanium.]
Get a bike fitting from a professional bike shop. Pay special attention to the five points where you come in contact with your bike: bottom, feet, and hands. Buy good quality shoes, padded shorts, and padded bike gloves.
Use tire liners; gatorskins or armadillo tires won't protect you from getting flats caused by wires on freeway shoulders. Trust me, I know.
A bandana is handy. It keeps the sun off your neck and can be moistened for cooling.
Instead of a "head sweat," bring a bicycle cap to wear under your helmet. The visor helps keep the sun off your face and the rain off your glasses.
Go on line and check your cell phone provider's coverage (especially in the western states).
Wireless internet connection is available at all hotels. Start a blog and either use the hotels' terminals or bring a netbook (they only weigh about two pounds).
Do EVERYTHING that Tracy tells you to do in her pre-ride emails. After years and years of taking intrepid cyclists across the U.S., she knows best. Do EVERYTHING she suggests you do. Trust me.
In preparation for the trip, the LONG training rides are more important than the short ones. Yes, you need to be in shape, but the long rides will tell you where you need to make changes in your shoes, gloves, shorts, etc. You don't want to discover that your saddle isn't comfortable between Riverside and Wickenburg! You will find out how to "go long." Oh, yes, wear your camelback (full) on your long training rides.
Chamois butter is not optional! Use it.
You, too, can ride your bike across the country! Just do it!
And, finally, support our troops. Make a donation to the USO. I thank you.
RSRO (ride safely, ride often),