04.30.11 – Let’s Do This!

In 24 hours I’ll be homeless. It’s not that there are no places for me to go if I decide to stop riding but instead the choice has yet to be made where home will be. While it may sound like I say this with complete confidence and certainty…I’m actually pretty nervous. I’ve vacationed but I’ve never traveled. The difference being that traveling requires continuous acquisition of food, shelter and general safety due to one’s changing location. I don’t know for sure if this is for me but it feels quite right and with anything new, you have to give it chance. This past month I’ve prepared in as many ways as I can. I’ve gathered the remainder of my gear and packed it all into my panniers…30+ times. I’ve slept in my tent a couple nights and have acclimated to the confinements of a mummy sleeping bag. The MSR Whisperlite stove heats up soup faster than you can say it’s name. I’ve also been riding a good amount.

It wasn’t until returning to Philadelphia this past month that I had the opportunity to ride fully loaded. My fully loaded ride with bike, packed bags, tent and water weighs in at about 90lbs. This certainly isn’t the lightest setup but it isn’t the heaviest. Jesse Steiner (The Transcontinentalist) rode a cargo bicycle that I believe weighed in at around 120lbs! At first pedal, I was pretty nervous. The bike felt like a tank and I wondered how safe it would be under all this weight (remember I built the entire bike myself from spoke and nipple to bar tape and brake levers).

Over the course of the past month, I’ve cranked up some tough hills and whizzed down some big ones too (see my Videos) and can say with certainty that the bike is ready for what I’m about to put it through. I just don’t know if I am!When Jesse rolled into town last year and put this idea in my head, I had a million questions for him. One of these questions was “when did you stop being nervous about doing the ride?” His response was not what I wanted to here. He replied that it wasn’t until several weeks into the ride that he became comfortable. Prior to this, my naive mind thought I could research and practice enough before setting off so that all my fears would be gone. Silly me. When does anything challenging come easy and without some level of fear?!

What makes the first leg of this ride (Philadelphia to Chicago) especially great is that Hannah will be with me. I’m pretty sure she won’t be joining me after that but that won’t stop me from trying to convince her! Having a partner will make getting into the groove of this new lifestyle much easier (not to mention she’s a gnarly cook). Honestly, there isn’t much more to say. I’ve been preparing for this ride in one way or another for almost a year now and if I had to leave today, I could…but tomorrow sounds better. So to all of you reading this, there’s only one thing left to say…


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