Thursday, February 21, 2008

Post # 1 - Getting Ready for the Ride

February 21, 2008

It's less than a month until I leave for San Diego to begin my bike ride back east. I will be riding on the Southern Tier Route across the country. If all goes well, I will end up in St. Augustine, Florida in late May.

Rob and I decided that a blog would be the easiest way for friends who might be interested in my progress to stay abreast of how the trip is going. I don't have the feeling I will have frequent access to the internet on this trip. I know on ocassion, I will be going through towns where I should be able to stop at a library and go online. Much of what will be posted on this blog will be done by Rob based on phone conversations he and I will have during my ride. But, when I'm able, I will post authentic "Dee reports" unfiltered by my ghostwriter husband.

Should any of you want to leave me comments or encouraging words on the blog, please do. There is a place on the page (down at the bottom of my posted message) where you click on "comment" and can write me a note. When you do this, on the right side of the page there will be a space where you can type me a message, be sure to sign your name so I'll know who it's from, then there is a word verification where you have to type the written letters shown, then, under User Identity, click on anonymous and finally, click on the "Publish Your Comment" button. I will be able to read your comments when I have the chance to go on line during the ride.

So, here's what I know about my trip so far....there will be 16 of us in the Adventure Cycling group. Most are from the US, but there is a couple from England and a couple from the Netherlands, too. There are 10 guys and 6 ladies on the trip. It is a self-contained trip which means we carry all our clothes and camping gear on our bikes and stay at campgrounds 6 nights a week. We do our own cooking but one night a week we stay at a hotel and have a rest day.

I have been busy, rounding up gear and fortunately some items that I need but don't have (such as a really light tent--thankyou Jim) have been lent to me by friends. There are a few items I have to buy like those tight-fitting, padded black bike shorts that I have never really wanted to wear --but I am excited about my new (and first) real bike shirt that says "Ride like a Girl on it"and pictures a crazy woman having fun on her bike! Cool huh??

My bike is being built for me by a frame builder in California named Bruce Gordon. Should I name my bike Bruce, or does everyone do that?? All he builds are bikes for fully loaded touring and I've heard great things about them from several folks who ride his bikes. This will be my first really serious bike. My original hope was to have the bike built and shipped to me in Pittsburgh so I could get used to it before the trip. Unfortunately, my bike will not be ready to be shipped until March 7th, not enough time to get it to Pittsburgh, have it assembled, use it, get it packed and shipped back to San Diego in time for my trip. So, it will be shipped to a bike shop in San Diego where it will be assembled and I'll pick it up when I get out there.

My bike trip officially begins on March 23rd. I'm getting to San Diego on March 18th so I can get to the bike shop and pick up my assembled bike and have at least a few days to get used to it before the trip starts. From everything I've read, this is a major no-no and the reasons why are obvious but it was the best we could do. Rob said I need to think about it as if I was meeting a mail-order groom on the west coast..."you know you have to fall totally in love with it and be confident that any difficulties in the relationship can be worked out".

All the support I've gotten from friends and family has been wonderful. There are moments when I get nervous or overwhelmend by the upcoming trip but mostly, I'm just excited. I'm not raising funds for any charity nor seeking sponsorship. I'm riding for my son Tyler. Tyler would be 21 this year and I wanted to honor this birthday with my ride. I remember once sharing my life motto with Ty, "Be brave enough to live life with Joy"--and I remember his smile when we talked about it. Ty loved movement, so my gift is this ride- and the Joy that Ty and I talked about... and that all of you have helped me recapture.

There really aren't any convenient times to do something like this when you have the responsibilities that come with middle age. I feel fortunate to be embarking on this journey-- and promise to ride with all the grace I can muster. Jamie and Kali have been awesome trainers, and Rob is the best Base Camp manager I can imagine. I will miss my family and friends but will be thinking of you all during my ride.

Love, Dee