What I learned cycling 264 miles – halfway point of the adventure!

In the past 5 days, I’ve cycled 264 miles. That’s more than halfway to my goal of 500 miles, and probably more than I’ve cycled my entire life before this trip. Damn.

Day 1: 60 miles

Day 2: 50 miles

Day 3: 62 miles

Day 4: 22 miles

Day 5: 70 miles (my unedited reporting from the end of the day!)

So, how am I doing?

Depends on the day, but for the most part, I’m doing surprisingly well. Except for intense butt pain (my bike seat is the devil) and occasional knee aches, my body is taking the beating with grace.

That said, day 3 really sapped my morale. It was horrible. The headwind was so intense that even when I was biking downhill it felt like I was climbing a hill. At some point, I was on the bridge with the wind to my side – I literally had to get off my bike because I was afraid of being tipped over. The wind kept on smacking me around even as I was walking.  

The dust and sand lifted off the road ended up in my eyes and mouth. I quickly ran out of water and became dehydrated. I kept grinding. I barely took a break. Then, as I was nearing my camp, torrential rains came over me. I made it to the camp but couldn’t even properly set up my tent, and everything was wet. The most worrisome thing was my brain fog, a likely result of the dehydration and overall exhaustion. I was in desperate need of help.

I called my husband, who happened to be in Charleston (roughly 40 miles away). He rented a car and came to save me. I was lucky. That same day, my body hurt so badly that I couldn’t even sit on a toilet without groaning, but I was happy to be safe and dry! 🙂 The road sure teaches me to count my blessings.

What do I do all day?

Mostly nothing! I just ride my bike 😉

I thought it was going to be super hard to shut down my scheming mind, but it’s been surprisingly easy. Most of the time I just focus on reducing the mileage, and when I’m on a highway, I focus on surviving, as I balance on a foot-wide space between the rough treads and the grass.

I have listened to two books so far though! Camilo suggested listening to Andy Weir’s work, and it was an excellent recommendation! I quickly finished off The Martian and Artemis. I loved both of the books. They are so far removed from what I’m seeing on my ride that I think it helps me keep my mind off the daunting task.

Things I’ve learned so far:

1. I wish hell upon all drivers who beep before they pass me. I think these drivers think they are doing me a favor?! Well, I hope that one they are sitting at their desk, concentrating on work and all of the sudden someone blows a horn behind them. Maybe that’ll teach them a lesson. Agrh.

2. “Detour” signs are cyclist’s worst nightmare. On day one, I hit 3 of those. They added roughly 8 miles to my initial mileage.

3. Google’s sweet message “in 800 feet, your destination in on the right” is my new favorite thing in the world. I’m pretty sure I’ll get a warm feeling in my stomach every time google says that from now on, even in my car.

4. For the most part, I’m trying to follow the East Coast Green Way or the American Cycling Association Atlantic Route, however, that’s not always possible given that my accommodation options are located off the recommended route. As a result, sometimes I’m stuck relying on Google maps. As it turns out, Google maps really sucks for biking – I’ve landed on high-speed highways, muddy paths through the woods and in dead ends. As a result, I highly recommend taking a recently updated physical map when you’re doing a longer cycling trip.

Overall, the trip is making me much more grateful for everything I have. I’m grateful for the fact that I am able to pay for a hotel to hide from the rain for a night, for all of the love and support I get, and for my insanely tough body and mind.

I’m also really uplifted by the people I meet along the way. They form my favorite memories. Sure, I had flipped off a number of assholes who chose to drive inches away from my body when the line next to them was empty. But I also met people like MK who offered me water and tangerines along the way.  The kindness I receive every day makes me smile, even through my pain and exhaustion.

MK – motel owner who let me take a brief break in his establishment.

Things I wish I had taken:

1. Puncture proof tires. I learned about those after I left from my friend Michelle (thank you!) and I wish I had known about these earlier. My biggest fear on the road is that my tires will get punctured (you can only imagine all the ways I’ve concluded this incident could end). Not having this stress on the back of my mind would have made most of my riding much more pleasurable.

2. A better seat. I really should have expected the seat to be an issue, huh?

3. More garbage bags. I got caught in the rain twice so far, and I’m positive this count will go up to 5 before I’m done. Even though most of my gear is water resistant that is just not good enough. Garbage bags over backpacks and saddle bags do the trick.

4. Flip flops. I forgot mine so… I am forced to use camping/motel showers in bare feet. Yuck.

My first campsite – the night was bitter cold!

Things I’m glad I took:

1. My Marmot rain jacket. I am used to biking in the rain now, but I can’t say that I appreciate being wet. The jacket keeps my top layer nice and dry.

2. Anti-chafe stick. Did I mention already my bike seat is the devil?

3. Polish soups. There’s nothing like a hot quick meal, especially when most of my dining options are fast food chains and gas stations.

4. Vitamins. I didn’t realize how important B-12 vit is when you’re pushing your body to the limit. It really helps.

Wish me luck for the second half of the journey! I’m excited to share it with you and appreciate you reading my tired scribbles 🙂

 

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