Monday, September 7, 2009

Trip wrapup and reflections

First of all, thanks to the many of you who posted or emailed congratulations on the successful completion of our cross-country trip. We really appreciate all of the positive support, during and after the completion of our journey. Frankly, we were surprised how many people were following our adventures on a regular basis. We hope you enjoyed reading about the things that happened, our thoughts (both highs and lows, for sure) and the pictures of the places we visited and people we met.

I also want to apologize for not responding to many of the posts that were made during our trip. Due to a technical problem (i.e., I forgot my password), I could not respond to a post using my Blackberry. I was only able to respond to the writer directly if I happened to have that person's email address. So please don't think your comments were ignored. To the contrary, we read and cherished every one of them.

Now that we've been home for a few days it is a little easier to express some thoughts that have been rolling around inside our heads for the last couple of weeks:

  • As much as we enjoy finally being back in our own home and seeing our family again, we already miss bike touring. It is a truly unique way to explore new places and meet new people. This is our second long, self-supported trip. A self-supported bike trip means far more contact with strangers than would be the case if we had a support vehicle ("sag wagon") follow along. We once again came away with the clear conviction that 99.9% of people are great, and that if you need to ask them for help you will get it. Maybe people don't feel threatened by touring cyclists, or identify with them emotionally for doing something a little out of the ordinary. In any event, we again experienced virtually universally positive 'good vibes' from the many people we met - in every area of the country that we traveled across.

  • Another thing we will miss is the occasional need to challenge ourselves to overcome obstacles and deal with unexpected circumstances (weather, bike maintenance issues, road construction, store and other support facility closings, etc.) You learn to be more self-reliant, flexible and creative in solving problems, since you simply have fewer of the normal alternative solutions available. While a steady stream of problems would certainly "get old," there can be a lot of satisfaction in figuring out a way around an obstacle.

  • However, a long 'point to point' bike trip like this has its negative features. In addition to the negative of being away from home and family for months and months, the other big negative is that you are almost constantly moving. There were many times when we felt like we were "just passing through" a town because we just could not spend any more time there and still stay on schedule to return home by early September (our youngest daughter is expecting to deliver our 4th grandchild any day now). We almost certainly do some similar future trips, but they will probably be shorter in duration and more in the nature of "loop tours" (start and end in the same town) with a schedule that permits spending at least a couple of days in each place. In other words, less riding and more visting of cultural and historical sites as well as just 'hanging around' places that look interesting.

  • Nevertheless, it was a great trip and we feel very fortunate that we were able to do it (in terms of time, physical condition and financially). We encourage anyone out there who may be considering a similar trip to feel free to contact us for whatever assistance we may be able to provide. If you are such a person, our two main messages are:
  1. You can do it. You don't need to be an elite level athlete, or even close. General good health, realistic daily goals and a positive attitude are all that is required. Remember: the vast majority of people underestimate their ability to do something.
  2. Do it now. Don't it put off thinking that you'll be in better shape (physically, financially, etc.) in the future. Do it while you can - you cannot assume what the future will be like. We met countless people on our trip who told us "I've always wanted to do that." Yet is was pretty clear most of them never will because they will never take the first step and it will eventually turn into a lifetime regret.

Thanks again for all your support!

Steve and Penny

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Woodland Park to Colorado Springs, CO (home)

Via Hwy 24 to Manitou Ave. exit, then secondary roads. 21.2 miles.

Our great adventure came to a happy and successful end today. After covering nearly 4,600 miles over roughly 3 and 1/2 months on the road, we completed our transcontinental tandem ride by returning to the home we left in April.*
We both feel like there isn't much that we cannot do, and that alone make it a great trip.

Our emotions are running the gamut: we are happy to have completed what we set out to do, and happy to be back in our own home after spending what seems like an eternity in motels and campgrounds - and generally eating poorly. At the same time, we will miss visiting new places and the challenge of overcoming physical limitations, adverse weather and other obstacles. Mostly though we will miss the people that we met almost daily along the way. From other cyclists who have inspired us to the many good people who have helped us out, invited us into their homes or just encouraged us.

In the next few days I will try to set out some things we learned from this experience, not only about bicycle touring but life. Thanks so much to all you blog readers - we hope that you have vicariously felt part of our trip and that you too will feel motivated to take up an additional challenge of some type.

*As previously explained, we took about a month off the bike beginning on June 22nd, the day after we reached our destination on Cape Cod which completed the eastern portion of our trip.
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There's no place like home

We both lost a significant amount of weight, despite the greasy food, heavy beer drinking, etc. I wonder how long it will stay off?

Pikes Peak

North side view.
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