I tried to come up with a list of all the things I’m worrying about in the weeks leading up to this ride, and it got too long and I started really worrying instead of listing things. Flat tires, saddle sores, knees blowing out, how is a vegetarian going to get 5,000 calories a day riding across rural western Texas, what if we break a part and don’t have the right tool to fix it and we’re out in the middle of nowhere, what if the high country in New Mexico gets a foot of snow the night before we’re supposed to ride through, is it really smart to try to ride a 25-year-old bicycle across the country, what if someone’s dog runs out in front of me and my fully-loaded trailer, how much traffic is going to be on the roads we’re riding, are we even going to be friends when this is over, am I going to be able to pay my rent while I’m gone, is my girlfriend going to remember me when I get back, how am I ever going to apply and carry enough sunscreen, what if this breaks, what if that breaks, did I bring enough of this, will I be able to buy that on the road, et cetera, et cetera.
Recently, I’ve been staying up really late. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. I drink tons of coffee and not enough water.
I don’t plan enormous things like this too often – two months away, lots of things can happen, I’ll probably come back a little different. I think I’m trying to think of everything, and I may have done it. But I’m still nervous.
My friend Mick says, “You’re going to see more in the first 100 miles on your bike than you could see in 1,000 in a car.” He says buy a mirror so I can see cars coming behind me. Josh says 21 tire patches should be plenty, and despite what I say, he thinks I’ll be in head-to-toe lycra by the end of the ride, like a real cyclist. Nick says, “I’m pretty sure you could do this thing off the couch,” meaning why should I waste time “training” when I could be sitting drinking coffee with him and talking about women. Scott, I think, is more excited than I am. Maynard says he has a friend I should stop and see in Silver City, and I should take three pairs of shorts, not two.
What should I put on my iPod for two months? Is my 4-year-old iPod even going to last that long? I should take some books. No, too heavy. One book. Which one? Warmer socks? Is this the right freewheel remover? I’m nervous.
I met up with a high school friend I hadn’t seen in probably 10 years, and she’s been more or less following what Tony and I have been doing. She said she does a lot of yoga consultations with cyclists, and I kept saying “I’m barely a cyclist.” Then we had an exchange that went like this:
“No, I really just ride my bike to work every day.”
“How far is that?”
“About 1½ miles.”
And then I get home, and I think, “Need to buy toilet paper/bread/strawberries.” Then I think, “Wait, I’m leaving in nine days. I don’t need toilet paper, or an entire loaf of bread …” When I get back, it’ll be sandal weather in Denver, biking to work in a T-shirt. My girlfriend will have moved into an entirely new bracket of seasonally-appropriate cooking. Convertibles will cruise the park next to my house, and ski season will be over. I will be a strong cyclist and a weak rock climber. Hopefully thinner, and home on time. I mean, I don’t actually know what “saddle sores” are anyway, so why worry about them? I suppose I’ll know when I get some.