So now what?

“Why, what’s the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?”

William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

February: French Medieval Book of Hours, 1412

I dislike February, only three days away. It’s my least favorite month. The grass is brown, the trees naked and the skies dark and threatening. The warm glow of the holidays has long since dissipated, and spring is weeks away.
But it’s also a time to contemplate warm-weather adventure.
Last year at this time I was signed up for and committed to a cross-country bicycle trip, and much of my attention was devoted to preparing for that journey. But that adventure was completed last fall.
So now what?
How to top a 3,130-mile ride across the United States, from San Diego to St. Augustine, Fla.?
Will any ride this year pale by comparison?
So far I have no plan for a bike trip this year. The Illinois Great Rivers Ride, a weeklong ride in my native state that I did three times, is no more — a victim of state budget cuts.
The Bicycle Tour of Colorado, which I’ve done five times, is still going strong after 16 years. But this year’s route covers much of the same ground I’ve ridden in previous tours, and the 106-mile first day — from Gunnison to Creede over 11,361-foot Slumgullion Pass and the Continental Divide at 10,901-foot Spring Creek Pass — is a might challenging. I’ve done that ride in both directions on previous tours and know that it would tax my aging body to the max — even with the residual fitness from a cross-country ride.
So I’m open to suggestions.
I visit my hometown, Alton, Ill., a couple times each year and will probably head that way in March. So, weather permitting, I’ll probably do a day ride that I’ve done numerous times — from Alton, up the Great River Road along the Mississippi to Pere Marquette State Park and back. It’s a round trip of nearly 50 miles along one of the most beautiful stretches of the Mississippi.
Another possible day ride is downriver from Alton to St. Louis along a network of trails, levee service roads and designated city bicycle paths to the Gateway Arch on the downtown waterfront. I’ve been wanting to do that ride, a round trip of about 60 miles, for years but could never work it in during my visits to Alton.

Cruiser bike at Santa Monica beach

As I was writing this with a cold rain pelting outside, Kami Kitchen, a fellow rider in our cross-country trek, posted on Facebook a photo of a bicycle beside the beach in Santa Monica, where she stopped en route to Australia for a new adventure. That prompted a bit of California dreamin’ and unleashed a spate of memories of the start of our trip last September at Ocean Beach in San Diego.
So it’s time to put away that “February face” and start training in earnest for a long bicycle trip later this year, even if I don’t yet know where it will be. I don’t think I’m ready to spend retirement in a Barcalounger.



Filed under Cycling across America, Journeys, Training

3 responses to “So now what?

  1. Might be a good time to buy a small sail boat. Bailey would love it.

  2. Why not just explore randomly, spontaneously, and do some unplanned rides? You don’t have to “top” last year’s cross country epic. My longest and most ambitious ride to date was also one of my first, almost 17 years ago, yet I haven’t stopped riding. And some of the most fun I’ve had on a bike took place within 10 miles of home.

    I’m glad I found your blog, Jim, and I look forward to reading more. Just keep riding–anywhere–surprise yourself, and keep writing too.

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