Third Setback’s a Charm, a New Route and Continued Training

Storms Coming 

Alright, first off let me state definitively that this is not a whine. When I decided I was doing this, I knew there’d be setbacks. While none of this is optimal, I’m trying to look at things in terms of lessons to be learned and benefits brought by each.

1) My phone dying two weeks ago. This is relatively minor, but it’s certainly cut into my budget in an unexpected way. I don’t really think there’s a lesson here other than Murphy’s Law which states “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” The boon here is that I was able to leave my camera behind as my phone takes better pictures and now have a GPS capable device for navigation.

2) Losing my glasses on the trail the night before leaving for NC. Murphy again. Lucky I was able to get them replaced and now have contacts, which will make riding in the rain more pleasant. The lesson here is that some of my gear is simultaneously easily lost and not easily replaced. Keep an eye on this stuff. Don’t put it anywhere that’s not completely secure. In short: Guard it. Out on the road there’s no kind cashier to say “Hey, you left your glasses!”

3) Leaving my bedroll and tent in VA at my mother’s house. In the chaos of trying to get everyone/everything out the door to leave for NC and trying to find an optometrist that was open in rural VA on a Sat. my bedroll didn’t get packed. It’s currently 7 hours away. Well shit. The lesson here is to take it slowly, double check and possibly make a check list.

Unlike the phone and the seeing apparatus, my budget can’t withstand replacing these things, especially when my tent and sleeping pad were both purchased brand new for this very trip. So what to do? Well, it appears the first 400 some odd miles of my route is changing. What does this mean exactly?

  • It adds 116 miles to my trip. I’d already added a 100 mile buffer to my mileage per day predictions, so this isn’t a huge deal.
  • It alters the first 450miles of my route. Instead of heading NC>VA>MA>DE>NJ>PA along the coast I will be heading from the western portion of VA to the north-east, through the DC area, through Maryland by the Potomac/Baltimore area to PA and Philadelphia where my route will resume as normal.
  • I will have 1 to 1/2 days fewer to travel. I’ll have to spend the 9th of June travelling back to VA by car with my family. This bumps my mileage up a negligible amount. Again, the buffer comes into play here.
  • My only serious concern is the first 173 miles of my new route heads over some serious elevation. I’m starting in a mountainous area so overall I will be going downward, but modern road systems do not follow the most geographically friendly routes. They go straight to and from places, meaning they go up and down mountains. After that first 173 miles, I should be in the clear. The area past that has a much lower overall elevation.

As well, a strange coincidence seems to have popped up. Another cyclist, also an engineering student, also travelling by bicycle, also leaving on the 10th will be travelling the first half of my new route going the opposite direction: CT to VA. He posted this an hour before I realized I was going to have to alter my route. What are the odds? If our paths cross I think that’s reason enough for a beer. Too weird, huh?

More in the here and now I’ve been biking like crazy. I did 60 miles yesterday (that’s a 100km!) and today I did 31 miles. I managed to get 5th out of 20 on Strava on a 13 mile segment doing an average of 25mph. I had a tailwind to help, but still, I’m on a steel frame cyclocross bike, not some $5,000 dollar carbon fiber TT bike (translation: Strava is a speed tracking program that displays the speeds of local riders on local routes. I have the fifth place record on a 13 mile long run. The wind helped me, but my bike is likely slower and heavier than some others). I feel pretty good about that. Here are a few quick pictures I took on my 60 mile ride while travelling through the the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Pea Island Wildlife Refuge.

Low Tide

Deserted Beach

I’ve also been walking on the beach at night which ha been nice. I’ve always preferred the serenity and tranquility of night to the bright bustle and bustle of the day. Sadly one of my phone’s limitations is night shots. Nothing I can do can capture the way the moon rises in the east the color of mlik and reflects off the water as the waves crash in at full high tide. It makes me feel small, like an ant peering out of an ant farm. In a way this is comforting, knowing that despite the vastness of the world I am still finding my way through it well enough. Final thoughts on the ocean: I could stare at the waves crashing to shore all night. It’s like staring in a camp fire. Every wave and flame is the same as the one before it, but each one is completely different.

Lastly, I do everything wrong. I make chili and grow a beard in the summer. What’s wrong with me? Probably a lot, but that’s okay.

Summer Beard

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5 responses to “Third Setback’s a Charm, a New Route and Continued Training

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