Friday, September 30, 2011

bruised, scraped, and still smiling

My legs feel like steel jello.  They hurt when I laugh.  Every day a new challenge comes my way and I am constantly amazed at what my little body can do.  If you had asked me two months ago if I could bike over the Cascade Mountains or go 50 miles in a day I would have said "No Way!!"  Guess it's better to just launch yourself into these crazy situations rather than asking if it's possible.  I've had more personal "firsts" in the past week than I have in the past two years.  Feels great!  Even when it hurts...


Friday, September 23, 2011

Pacific, here we come!

After one particularly frustrating bike maintenance session, I sat down next to Flynn and our talk of course turned to our cycling trip. It came up that neither of us had ever biked more than twenty miles at a time. I divulged further, "Actually, we took a several hour break halfway. And we were going pretty slow. I remember it was, well, boring, even though we were in the Tetons. And my butt hurt. Aaaand, that was three years ago." Perhaps these were some important warning signs.

In the two months or so since the idea was first hatched a lot has changed. I moved out of the first home I'd lived in for more than eight months at a time over the past seven years, my boyfriend of six years set off for a year on the other side of the world, and my job ended. Some may have found a new place to live, agreed to take the job that I turned down in order to commit to this trip, and continued on a path that some might consider, you know, normal. I, however, happened to have met two fantastic women that have the same sense itch for travel, desire for both predictable and unknown challenges, urge to find adventure, and a penchant for crazy bike trips to Maine.

While Emily and Flynn wisely decided to invest in new and beautiful bikes, I chose (much to the concern of those more experienced than me) to stick with my old reliable orange Trek. In the months leading up to the trip I embarked on a totally different journey- learning the ins and outs of my quirky, somewhat rusty, and completely foreign to me bike. I was wary. We eyed each other, and I didn't know if I liked what I saw. I was extremely fortunate to have the help of the Missoula biking community and visited bike shops daily asking advice and buying replacement parts and spent hours in Freecycles where I learned from those much more knowledgeable than me how to take apart and put back together Lance. Yes, that's right, as in Lance Armstrong. Cliche? Perhaps, but it seemed all too fitting for a bike which proclaims that its a "seven time tour de france champion". We've had our ups and downs so far, including a nasty spill in a Higgins Ave. intersection (I think revenge for the Montana winters he spent outside in the yard), but its been empowering to learn the little I now know about my bike. Its also been a testament to my stubborn, determined personality. I think Lance has quite a bit in store for all of us in these next couple months. And, all that being said, I do sneak out every night to sigh and look longingly at Emily and Flynn's new beauties.

On a side note, but an important one, I think all of us want to thank everyone who has helped us so far. From Guido at Freecycles who patiently watched me struggle to replace cables and learn how to take my wheels off, to everyone who let me sleep on their couch in the last month, to Flynn's mom, Risky Hill, who let us sprawl all over her house and yard and facilitated the first step towards our starting line, to Emily's dad, John, who offered to ship a big backpack and slew of skiing gear to Maine for me as we were scrapping things together on our way out of Missoula, to Eli Murphy who we met on the train and shepherded us through Portland and the beginnings of bike touring, to Mort and his roommates for hosting us and ignoring the mess in their dining room, and to Freeland for a great bike tour of Portland... the list goes on. And, we technically haven't even started! We feel embraced by the cycling community and fellow crazies alike. So, cheers and wish us luck!

And so we find ourselves sitting on Mort's couch in Portland, Oregon, waiting for Glen, our rideshare buddy, to pick us up and take us out to the coast so that we can dip our rear wheels in the Pacific Ocean. We like to think that we haven't trained because we don't want to know what we're in for until its too late.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

and so it begins...

We've been told that our muscles will get bigger, so we decided to take our  "before" specs for comparison sake.

Which way to Portland?

Who knows? Maybe our brains will grow too... or shrink.
Risky, Flynn's mother, we are so grateful for a great dinner and her warm hugs to send us off at the train station!
Whitefish, Montana catching the 10 pm train

Taking over Union Station for bike assembly
Thanks to our helpful bike shepherd, Eli Murphy. We already feel the good vibes from the biking community!
Day 1: Portland, Oregon!! Here we go!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

goodbye backpack, hello bike rack

I've often driven by people biking along highways with loaded down bikes and thought to myself, “That looks miserable. Those people are crazy.” Soon I'll find out for myself. Life often takes the path you least expect. I wouldn't have thought of this trip on my own, but when Carolyn mentioned it I had an immediate and overwhelming urge to join her. I had my doubts, and heaps of rational fears. I don't have any experience. We're starting late in the season. A month ago I didn't have a road bike or any touring gear …. I've never even fixed a flat tire. All that aside, my heart knows that this is a good idea. The best idea. I turned 30 this year and wanted a big adventure to celebrate this new decade of life. Well, who could ask for a more memorable trip than three women biking across the country? I know the learning curve will be steep and the mountains even steeper. I know I'll be sore and cold. I also know that I can't think of anything that I would rather do.

homeless, unemployed, and loving every minute

T Minus 5 Days and Counting

How much more official can you get than creating a blog? The train tickets are bought, the gear is (mostly) packed, employment has ended, nerves are running high, and the cold is creeping in. Excitement is taking over... or is it fear? We know we're in for an amazing adventure on the road, and our journey has already started here in Missoula. Our days have been filled with trips to REI, sweating and swearing while installing parts in the backyard, moving out of our homes, visits to the storage unit, goodbyes, picking apart every gear detail, and spontaneously shrieking between weekly backpacking trips in Montana's Gallatin National Forest. We've decided to embrace the fact that our training regiment is a bit unusual. As in, we have yet to take a ride together, or alone for that matter, with loaded bikes. But hey, nothing like diving in head first, right? And besides, we have been backpacking all summer. We know all that fancy, bank account draining cycling gear is used for something and we plan on finding out, even if it is the hard way.

Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine 2011- "Quit whining, its not that cold".