Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Notes from the road

   I'm here in Bangor PA where the town has no copy machine.  I can imagine there are no radiation montiors for police or firefighters as well.  I got a new donation of SIRAD credit card-size rad monitors from the scientist who invented them, Dr. Gordhan Patel.
   I've ridden about 350 miles so far and am taking yesterday and today "off."  My day(s) are filled with meetings with public officials and huddles to get PA outfitted with the rad monitors.   PA is special because the former Governor of PA, Tom Ridge, helped fund the technolgy when he was head of Homeland Security.
   Apart from that the grind of riding has not been a grind at all.  I've been able to ride 50 miles a day four days in a row through some very hilly country.   The hills in Conniticut were so steep I could hit 42 mph going down.  I decided to not let the bike go over 30 mph even though I hate putting on the brakes going down what was so much work to get up.
  A lot of rainy days but a relief from the heat of riding.    Some of the down pours were refreshing.  I never could have made it up the hills without the rain as I would have over heated I think.
   After four days of riding I went through my gear and shipped about 35 lbs of extra weight back home.   It was crazy to carry so much excess baggage.
   Coco rode with me to Mystic Connecticut and I doubt I could have got the trip off the ground without her help.  She's and athletic trainer besides being a clown.  She showed me stretching exercises.  But most helpful were the breathing techniques for riding up hills.   Using the abdominal muscles to help expel air makes the lungs much more effective and improved my ability to handle hill.
    Coco did like to shop though and would come out of a store with all sorts of "handy" gadgets and food.   I ended up carrying all of it and had to finally put my foot down on the fourth of fifth bag of exotic crackers.   I'm going to let her blog her own experience riding her "Easy Rider" bicycle.  She got lots of looks and thumbs up etc. from bikers.  My bike with the dragon on it gets lots of looks and comments from children and teenage girls.  Some adults comment favorably, even shout them from cars.   I like the dragon as it helps remind me that the trip is mainly an adventure and not take myself too seriously.
   When I biked across the county at age sixteen the destination was California and the goal was to ride as many miles as possible every day.   Now at 60, the road itself is the destination and the goal is to simply ride and not over do it.   Originally I'd planned to ride to Utah but I reasoned that if I liked riding to Utah I would not want to stop so I chose Sandiego where five of my adult children are living.
   I may quit riding anytime if I feel like it, though I've committed myself to wait three more days after deciding to end the trip to see if I really want to end it.   I may also get to CA and decide to ride back to Utah.
   Riding is nothing like I imagined it might be.  I joke about going into samahdi (the bliss-like trance of the yogis) while riding.  There are, however, such spectacular vistas and byways  they induce a state of profound meditation if the traffic is not too bad.
  There are some pretty scary streches of road and on the Palisades highway through the mountains of New York I often rode on the grass next to the road.  I try to always know what is coming up behind me and watch to see if they are giving me room as well as be alert to drunks.
   For convenience I spent the first week in motels but started camping out in Bear Mountain NY state park.  In New Jersey  I realized I didn't have my rain tarp and was riding late (in the rain) hoping to find a motel.   A man stopped ahead of me on a bridge and got out and told me that I could sleep under the bridge we were on as it was an old railroad bridge and dry underneath.  He pointed to a road that led under the bridge.   He said the next motel was ten miles.  It was dark cold and wet so I took him up on the offer.
   The man who stopped said he was surprised because he'd thought I was a kid.  I explained to him that I was trying to be.   Besides "First Responder Ride" I call this my "Kick the Can Ride" as in the old Twilight Zone where the folks at the nursing home turn young again by playing kick the can.  I figure for every hundred miles I ride I get a year younger.  So by the time I reach San Diego I'll be 16 again.
   John Stevens at Martha's Vineyard Cycle Works says he watches people who ride bikes get younger.
It's really true it does make you younger. 
   We my time on the computer at the Bangor PA library is expiring.  More to come next post I hope...

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