The Way to New York

I’m at 39,000 feet over central Illinois on my way to New York from California. The trip is finally starting, and I’m scared. My cousin Mike and I have been planning and training for this trip for over a year, and as it gets closer, the uncertainties multiply.

Will my legs hold up? After all I will be 70 years old next month, and I haven’t
done anything like this since a 500-mile backpack trip 5 years ago. Do I have the stamina?

Will my prostate behave? Not to over share, but with all these miles of bike
Training, plus a gland in its eighth decade, not to mention a small bike seat. Okay, you get the idea.

How will we know at the beginning of each day how far we are going to ride?
We’re going to have to decide each day how far we hope to get. It’s now
September and the days are getting shorter. In three weeks it will be the vernal equinox. We don’t want to ride after sundown. Can we plan that closely?

Can we find a place to stay each night? Mike and I are “credit card camping,” in other words, planning on clean sheets and hot showers at the end of every day. How are we going to find them after 25 or 50 or more miles of pedaling?

Then there’s bike trouble, can we handle it? Even flat tires will slow us up, as will bad weather, navigation uncertainties (aka getting lost) and low energy levels. Will the motel honor our reservation if we show up late, if we don’t have one will there be room, or will the place be shuttered by the recession? The questions cascade through my mind like snow down an avalanche chute.

Then there’s the bikes, ah the bikes. We were planning on shipping the bikes ourselves, until we found out just how much trouble, not to mention cost, is entailed in getting two 30-pound bicycles from California to New York. Then an REI guy happened to mention their bike-shipping service. For a very modest charge, REI will disassemble, package, and ship your bike to another REI store where it will be unboxed and reassembled just like new. How long would it take? Well he was less certain of that, “about a week cross-country.” Mike has 6 weeks vacation (36 biking days to be exact) and the clock starts ticking on September 6. The bikes are due September 7th. What if they’re late?

Finally the seat belt light has just gone on, we are beginning our descent into
NY, and I’m going to be told to stop typing shortly. Will the questions stop if
I can’t write them down? Will the answers come? Will my morbid curiosity dissipate? Or will I just keep fretting until the morning of September 7th? Or September 8th? Or September 9th?


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