|Had to come back to this sign|
|This is what you see when you exit the trail|
So, what can you say about a 2700 something mile bike ride ? Iohan asked me that back at Butts Cabin, to summarize it in three words. I think I said "beautiful, exhausing and inspiring"
The scenery is just magnificent. You are out there on these back roads, riding through some pretty amazing country, from the Gila, to Brazos, to climbing out of Salida and seeing the Rockies, the Basin, Tetons and Wind Rivers and Canadian Rockies .. you find yourself in the middle of it all and it's stunning and then you ride along and there is more beautiful country, but it's not going by at 70 miles an hour on the Interstate but at the pace of you and your pedals.
It's tiring. With the weight on the bike and being an old man, I probably did a lot of 6 or 7 mph average speeds for a day of 10 or 12 hours. There is always a climb and a descent and another climb. You get a climb every morning and every afternoon at least. I think the GPS shows something like 180,000 feet of climbing and I think that's accurate. And not knowing where food and water are going to be is sometimes a little stressful.
Every day I saw other riders out there touring or racing this route and exploring this beautiful country. And I met a lot of really nice people along the way, from cowboys who stopped to ask me about my ride, folks on ATV's, waiters and waitresses who asked about what I was doing, two women on horseback wondering why I was pushing a bike up Fleecer Ridge ... there are a lot of amazingly good people in this country and on a bike you are a lot more approachable than you ever would be in a car. So yes, I think I am inspired by all of this goodness. I got honked at by one jerk and on the other hand I had many many drivers slow down ... way down .. to avoid covering me in dust on some back country road.
I had a goal of finishing and I did that. I thought I could do it in 32 days and fell a little short of that, coming in at 37 1/2 days. If I were to do this again, I would make a few changes on the bike, going with a full frame bag instead of the half one I had, for more storage. My stuff sack in the front had too much weight on the front of the bike making it a little harder to handle, so the frame bag would help with that. I did a lot better this year in New Mexico, knocking a day off last year's ride and most of that was just due to knowing more about what I was doing ... I think someone even mentioned this in one of the Cordillera volumes.
Maybe think about more gears on the bike ... perhaps a 1 X 11 isn't enough, but my bike performed flawlessly. My tires lasted the entire ride, with one tire being low in Atlantic City and I pumped it up and that was it. Not sure if I would go with a lighter tire.
I lost a big chunk of time by missing the alternate route in Wyoming where I wandered off course for a few hours and had to do a big morning climb, I stopped in Salida early, I lost time at Seeley Lake, I probably could have skipped the stay in Basin and gone straight to Helena, and from Sparwood to Eureka and saved 4 days right there by positioning myself better for the following days by going harder on those days. But knowing where you are going really helps.
If anyone has read through all of this and is thinking about doing this Ride, my advice would be DO IT ! I am Blessed to have been able to hang in there and get it done. Now ... time to think of what's next !