All posts by roderick

Closing Thoughts

I’m back in San Jose, where the humidity is low, and 90 degrees F is still not sweaty weather.

Within days of my return, I gave away my Adventure Cycling maps on craigslist. While this made it harder to review the route of my trip, I wanted to get the maps to someone who could use them while they were still relatively current.

Nike Track Shoes
These were the replacement shoes that I picked up in early May after being on the road for about 2 weeks.
shoes after ride
And this is what the shoes looked like when I got back. These were track shoes, never intended for walking. To save every gram of weight, the soles were low-density plastic – not very durable.  The spikes have worn flat, and some of the aluminum cleat sockets have come off.   I’m pleased with these shoes; they were sufficient for the task.  My present food poisoning is making me wax philosophical.  When my physical body finally wears out someday, will I be found to have been sufficient for the task?

After being in sparse motel rooms and campgrounds, home now seems crowded with a lot of stuff I don’t need.

The nausea and stomach upset is still lingering slightly with me. I’ll likely be updating this post over the next few days.

[Sunday 7/23} This morning, I woke up at 5 am local time, equivalent to 8 am where I was. Washed the clothes that I brought back, and hung them up to dry outside. Went to church with Merrianne. Then we did some grocery shopping. When we got home, I tried to rest, but found I was not really able to because of the unsettled feeling in my gut. So, might as well get some stuff done. I trimmed one of the shrubs in front of our house, and put away more of the things I brought back.

  • My weight when starting this trip: 155 lbs.
  • Times I weighed myself on the trip: 0
  • Weight upon return: 139.4

Lost some weight due to the exercise, but certainly, the food poisoning must have contributed. I’m trying to stay hydrated. Ate a plum from our tree this afternoon, and also some cherries, 2 bananas, and some pasta. Didn’t throw up, which is a good sign. Contrast this with the Transamerica ride I did about 30 years ago, where I gained 4 pounds on the trip (though it could have been muscle). Interestingly, both times, I ended up at about 140.

Fun facts and figures:

  • Total distance: 3843.9 miles (does not count rides from cars, walking, flying, boats)
  • Days away from home: 93 (13 weeks on the bike)
  • Sundays: 12
  • Sundays attended church: 11 (missed service at Huyneme)
  • People praying for me: [cannot be measured with existing technology]
  • Times used button shirt and long pants for church: 0
  • Named people met (those who were significant, but anonymous by circumstance or choice, have been omitted – total 302): Robin, Brian, Gordon, Ray, Rita, David, Issac, Don, Linda, Connor, Olivia, Nick, Marta, Felix, Sammy, David, Mike, Mike, Janice, Christian, Matt, Kent, Alesha, Salvador, Maria, Dustin, Deborah, Jeff, Paul, Don, Sid, Steve, Trevor, Griffin, Mark, Angelica, Gabby, Emily, Colleen, Shiloh, Sarah, Felicia, Kassia, Charlie, Daniel, John, Trolley, Rob, Ron, Jesica, Rome, Scissors, Odilla, Robert, Rhoderick (Erick), Jim, Cole, Bill, Kevin, Ian, Katie, Mallory, Jenny, Lena, Mag, Robin, Danica, Dylan, Lorenzo, Angela, Issac, Keanu, Valery, Elvin, Gretchen, Tara, Norah, Hal, Desiree, Denise, John, Seamus, Sarah, Soren, Louise, Mike, Wayne, Richard, Ken, Lamar, Willard, Phil, Andy, Miriam, Randy, Katie, Theodore, Kat, Patti, Eliane, Keith, Emma, Arnaud, Veronica, Ryan, Yee-Kahn, Lisa, Tom, Alex, Marni, Craig, Sylvia, Scott, Diane, Tony, Brian, Joyce, Allison, John, Ken, Darcy, Mindy, Bill, Janet, Devon, Dolly, Lieven, Adam, Rowan, Dwayne, Fabian, Donna, Ashley, John, Sandy, Richard, Ted, Russ, Wayne, Jane, Josh, Jack, Serena, Sergey, Yi-Yang, Roger, James, Nicki, Brian, Ross, Ferdinand, Cindy, Max, Larry, Leah, David, Ashley, James, Katie, Charlie, Alex, Charlie, Judy, Bobby, Connie, Mark, Marion, Kent, Jason, Scott, Helen, Lily, Jesse, Cassandra, Anaya, Claire, Sabra, Emma, Laura, Darius, Jeff, Juan, Ingrid, Brian, Leicel, Charles, Augustine, Jack, Missy, Kyle, Jim, Joan, Edie, Sabina, Arnie, Chris, Thomas, John, Johnny, Shirley, David, Stephanie, Shaun, Sharon, Johanna, Kaitlyn, Leland, Deanna, Diana, Ken, Bill, David, Bill, Julie, Kaley, Gary, Audrey, Luke, Doris, Jim, Ernie, Rodney, George, Mandy, Gary, Angela, Kantonio, Yolanda, Skye, Emmanuel, Kantonio Jr, Hilton, Aurora, Isaiah, Joanne, Jay, Don, Jordan, Kristyn, Debbie, Melissa, Viral, Shannon, Loyman, Jim, Alice, Neal, Field, Marcel, Aaron, Lester, Eddie, Rachelle, Connie, Tuckey, Brenda, Jimmy, Steve, John, Sarah, Cheryl, Jeff, Robby, Julie, Nick, Roger, Tina, Mary, Tech, Mike, John, Gary, Sydney, Steve, Judy, Wingman, Tia, China, Robert, Scott, Kaley, Hans, Sam, John, Terrence, May, Morris, Ron, Minnie, Cassandra, Paul, Matthew, Armando, Earl, Matt, Carol, Lisa, Ricky, Corrinne, Jim, Leon, Jerry
  • Days it rained: 16
  • Flats: 4
  • Avoidable flats: 4 (my own fault, using old tubes, or installing them wrong)
  • Sets of tires used: 2 (preponderance of caution – might have made it on 1 set)
  • Equipment that broke or wore out: brake hood, 4 tubes, handlebar wrap, shoes, water bottle, one pannier (repaired).
  • Times fell off bike: 0
  • Vicious dogs: 0 (some would bark and chase, but let up when answered in a friendly tone)
  • Items lost or stolen: 0 (having only the essentials with me helped)
  • Most interesting person (male): Juan (“Juan in a million”) (really tough to choose)
  • Most interesting person (female): Eliane (also so hard to choose)
  • Friendliest state: LA
  • Most diverse state: TX
  • Most rural state: MS
  • Best climate: CA
  • Most common convenience store food purchase: fruit popsicle
  • Most common convenience store drink purchase: Powerade/Gatorade
  • Usual drink in restaurants: unsweetened iced tea (“unsweet”)
  • Beer, wine, and other alcohol consumed on trip: 0 (not counting Turtle Soup which had sherry in it)
  • Most common chain restaurant visited: Wendy’s (for a Frosty and wi-fi)
  • Best food (unable to decide, candidates listed): Grandma’s Chicken, Sirloin Stockade Buffet, Red Beans and Rice Plate, AYCE Spaghetti, Lasagna special, Chicken Fajita Taco, BBQ Ribs, Turtle Soup, Boudin, Shrimp Boil.
  • Trail angels: 6
  • People who tried to give me money: 5 (and some of those had little for themselves to start with)
  • Hardest ride segment: steep grade after Superior, AZ
  • Longest day: 82 miles through desert into Safford, AZ
  • Most memorable day: through the hail near McDonald Observatory on the way to Fort Davis, TX
  • Hardest day: Day 1, Morgan Hill, CA – the only time I actually considered giving up.
  • Camping days: 18
  • Motel days: 58
  • Hostel days: 14
  • Days stayed with a friend: 2 (Linda, Robert)
  • Times tent was staked to the ground: 0
  • Times camp got flooded out: 0
  • Most common lodging: motel
  • Most expensive motel: $126, Dauphin Island, AL
  • Least expensive motel: $35, Lordsburg, NM
  • Most common large roadkill: Armadillo
  • Other roadkill, in approximate order of frequency: snake, bird, possum, turtle, millipede, raccoon, rabbit, javelina, cat, deer, squirrel, skunk, porcupine, coyote, alligator.
  • Sudoku puzzles carried on trip: 36
  • Sudoku puzzles worked on trip: 0
  • Books read: 0
  • Movies seen on the big screen: 1 (Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in Wickenburg, AZ)
  • Movies seen on TV in motel rooms: LOTS like Hunger Games, Divergent, Avengers, Riddick, and other science fiction while blogging
  • Times reserve water used on Southern Tier: 0 (it was used on the way from San Jose to San Diego)
  • Things I probably wouldn’t bring if I did it over again: large rag in front pack (useful for blowing nose in cold weather, not so much on Southern Tier), harmonica, rope, shampoo (use motel’s, or use soap, or just water), church clothes.
  • Things I was glad I brought, that other cyclists might not bring: calling cards with my contact info, clothespins, E6000 glue (shoe goo would probably have worked, too), hydrocortisone cream, Desitin cream, 3-to-2 pin plug adapter, bifocal sunglasses, piece of chalk.
  • Thing I should have brought: USB powered fan (for those few miserably hot and humid nights)
  • Calling cards given away: about 200 (2-3 per day)

Tips and Observations:

  • The lodging listed on the Adventure Cycling Maps is always decent. It is not always cheap. Where there are many choices, the listed lodging is close to the best value.
  • Take off socks and shoes before pushing the bike across water.
  • Often, clothes can just be rinsed out in the shower at a motel or campground. No need to go to a laundromat every time.  In the desert, a wrung-out T-shirt will dry after being worn for just a few blocks’ walk outside.
  • Chase bank doesn’t have ATMs except in very large cities. Use Walmart or chain supermarkets to get cash back from a debit card without the ATM fees.
  • Long sleeves are cooler in sun.
  • Chapstick or vaseline was important for the dry heat between Southern California and West Texas.  On the eastern part of the Southern Tier, natural humidity makes chapstick unnecessary.
  • One set of non-rechargeable AAA batteries was enough to power my LED head light for the entire trip.  I would not bother bringing rechargeable AAA’s if I did such a trip again.
  • A neon yellow-green shirt makes you look like a contract laborer. It may also be less visible against foliage. Fuchsia pink may be more visible
  • If you use reading glasses, get decent quality ones for a tour. The $1 kind will flop around after a couple weeks. A name brand like Foster Grant will have spring-loaded hinges that last, and can still be found at a discount store for $3.  Bifocal sunglasses, sunglasses with a small reading lens built in when you look down, are super handy,  as it’s a pain to change glasses while on the bike.
  • Do a shakeout ride before the actual tour. Had I done this, I would have avoided two flats and having my gear fly off the rack.
  • Waterproof panniers may be inconvenient to roll up during dry weather, but more than compensate for it during wet weather. Totally worth it.
  • When the first big drops of rain fall, that’s the time to make sure all the electronics are in ziploc bags, and the front pack is zipped up.
  • Think about each thing that you’re bringing, what the impact would be if you lost it, and what you could do to recover. For many, their phone is their camera, gps, blogging device, and most importantly, their lifeline in dire emergency. If you have an Android phone, turn on location services. That way, if you ever lose your phone, you can track it from any browser by logging in to Google. And by the way, turn off two factor authentication on Google, so you’ll be able to log in if your phone is lost. The process for an iPhone is similar. The important thing is to do a test run before your trip. Ask a friend to take your phone to an undisclosed location, then try to log in on another friend’s computer to try to locate your phone. It’s also a good idea to put a sticker on your phone with your email address (or partner’s phone number, if traveling together), so that someone can contact you if they find your phone.
  • Google Bicycle Directions need a lot of work. Use them only as a last resort, or to go long distances to a general area. They are terrible in cities. Not once did I have a fault-free route.
  • As much as possible, avoid riding at dusk or night.  This was not a new learning from this tour, but when friends have had trouble, it was often because of darkness.  Especially watch out for happy hour, and Friday and Saturday nights.
  • Make backups of important data and documents.  I’m glad that I wrote down some things, because my cylcometer got waterlogged a few times, or jarred loose by road bumps.  I’m glad that I didn’t rely on the camera’s SD card as my sole repository for pictures and video.  Back up to the cloud, or storage that you carry with you.
  • At some times, there will be no electronic connectivity.  No power outlets, no internet, no cell signal.  Just be aware.
  • Where there is internet, there is generally wi-fi.  Don’t bother bringing an ethernet cable or phone modem.
  • Most people don’t mind having their picture taken.  Just ask.
  • There is no film cost to digital pictures.  Take a lot, even of ordinary neighborhoods or humdrum scenery.  Later, there may be interesting details that you missed the first time, like all the traffic lights in Texas being horizontal.
  • Respect local traditions and opinions.  Pretty simple, but crucial.  If folks are addressing each other with “sir” and “ma’am,” then do the same.  And don’t tell them they’re doing something wrong or bad.  Basically, don’t be a dick.
  • In the time of greatest hardship, try to remember to stop and take a picture or video (if it’s safe). I regret not having a picture of the brush I had to walk through in the swamp preserve in Florida. It was taller than me.
  • This trip through the South confirmed to me that underneath, we are all far more alike than different.  Except for that one time I wandered into a high-end restaurant at the Indigo, at no time on this trip did I feel out-of-place.  Not among the folks at a resort.  Not in the neighborhood around a very cheap motel.  Not with homeless people, who were often fellow travelers.  Not at a predominantly black church.  Not at a predominantly white church.  Not at a conservative Southern Baptist church, nor Roman Catholic, nor a liberal Episcopalian.  Not with folks who thought Trump was a “man-baby;” not with folks who thought, Finally, someone who speaks exactly what he is thinking.  People are basically good, and will extend astounding kindness.

I will let Mike, the Singing Cyclist, close us out with this. Take good care, my dear friends.

– Roderick.