The process of preparing for a long ride is both fun and frustrating. Some of our steps include:

  • Planning the route, including figuring out where we want to be each Sunday, what each day’s ride will roughly look like, finding options for hotels, airbnbs, and camping, and looking at photos others have posted along the path to better understand the surface conditions.

  • Planning our gear. Currently out list is approaching 300 items ranging from the tent to bandaids. Everything needs to fit in 4 panniers totaling 80 liters. Carry-on bags range from 50-75 liters… Needless to say, space is tight. Next we start assembling all of the gear and test packing, trying to figure out how to make it all fit. This is an iterative process. I should also include in here that we try to test any new gear. We have a new smaller tent, so the next big rainstorm was my cue to run into the back yard and set it up. We need to know before our ride if it is adequately waterproof.

  • Getting the bike ready. We usually several things that need to be repaired or replaced on the bike. This year we replaced the headset, replaced the rear brakes, and replaced all the cables and cable housing.

  • Perhaps the hardest thing is preparing our aging bodies. We’ve both been putting extra time on the exercise bike in the basement. I’m riding between 1 and 1.5 hours on it each day except Sunday. We try to ride after work when we can. With school over for Natalie we’ll probably be able to ride each weeknight for the next week and a half. We ride for around 2 hours on these rides. We are also going to try to start riding 1-2 hours each morning before my workday starts. And finally, we’ve been trying to go for longer rides on Saturday. Today we rode for almost 10 hours, including few food and bathroom breaks. Last year we were over confident and under prepared. This year our first week’s mileage is close to last year’s two week mileage (there are several factors compressing the first week this year…). We are doing all we can to get ready, but as we age the process seems more difficult.

Sometimes we both wonder why we vacation this way. Sometimes we wonder how much longer we can do it. Each year we say we are going to make the next year’s ride easier, and then forget… But we love seeing the world this way. There is something satisfying about pursuing big dreams.

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