2022 is a breakthrough year for adventure bicycle tourists like me who have stayed off the trail during the Chinese Virus ruckus but are unable to hold off any longer. I’ve had all the shots and boosters and decided to take life as it comes and no longer allow concern to slow me down.
When first attempting Adventure Cycling after retiring, my grown children were somewhat aghast at the assumed deterioration of my mental health. They now have become accustomed and have pride in my endeavors to enjoy the senior years. Enlightenment.
From the state of Iowa at 78, age may come to be a factor pretty soon in upcoming cycling adventures, so I have added a new page to my Facebook location for the upcoming tour. The route still in the planning stage, generally, yet not always, follows the ‘Adventure Cycling Assn. Sierra Cascade’ map from the Mexican border to Canada, parallel to the Pacific Crest Hiking Trail. (I will add a dot each day to the following ride-specific map to display my progress. I’ll be out there about 80 days)
Facebook works best for me to post daily photos, stories, drone videos and much, much more as I proceed into unknown territory and meet people I could never have imagined while witnessing sights that burn into memory.
This will be my 9th such North American long-distance ride since retirement, and I am slowing it down this year to be able to savor every little moment. One year, I averaged 60 miles per day across the country and spent most of my time in the saddle. But I missed plenty of the stuff that keeps one fulfilled. Each year thereafter I have lessened my miles per day to be more comfortable with the pace, meet the folks and make a number of tourists stops.
My tour bike is a REI Novara (Mustache handlebars) adapted with an electric assist kit which I call my 'thirty-year-old legs'. I was told I was the first to do a solo cross-country under electric assist but I’m not sure that is true. The small boost speeds up the flats and makes one feel he is making progress in a headwind. (Along with ear plugs, one doesn’t even notice the wind.) It also allows me to keep up with unburdened-by-luggage locals who join me for a while. Yet the motor is just not that big and the strain on a steep incline sucks the battery dry. No help whatsoever in the mountains.
This summer I will be doing the Mojave Desert, passing Death Valley on the West side, and then lots and lots of mountainous terrain. I decided to make my average pace around 30 miles per day. If you have ever done a mountain pass by bike, you are aware that it may take many hours to reach the summit. (I also remember when reaching the peak of each new height to thank my maker for a stout heart, awesome lungs and the barely quivering legs that he has provided.)
I approach my rides much differently than most in that I pre-plan overnight stops with hosts way ahead of time. (A shower is a must with one’s clothes sticking like peanut butter after a long day.) I will often stay with over 60 host families on one multi-thousand-mile ride. The hosts enrich my ride ten-fold in that I experience each family’s lifestyle, have time to enjoy their hobbies and get a real look at their hometowns. And one makes lifelong friends.
Overnight hosts are gleaned from a mixture of Warmshowers, Couchsurfing, letters to town mayors, churches and ‘letters to the editor’ of newspapers. (My aging vertebrae find it difficult to tent each night and get enough sleep.)
Follow my new FB page from now on. The ride begins on June 15th in California, but you may want to see how I prepare. I guarantee that you won’t be bored by the Good, Bad and the Ugly if you enjoy cycling. Jack’s 2022 ‘Tunnel To Towers’ Border to Border Bicycle Tour | Facebook
I am also fundraising for ‘Tunnel To Towers Foundation’ along the way. As a USMC Vet from the Stoneage of the Vietnam Era, I have been most fortunate to have enjoyed a charmed, normal life. I want to remember, honor, and express my ongoing support for the severely damaged guys/girls and their families from the recent Middle East conflicts who have had it so much worse. Providing a helping hand gives me the feeling of satisfaction that I am still able to do something for them.
Have a great summer! See you on the road!