April 23
Back to Index

Well, I’m in California, and on the cusp of starting something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time…ride my bicycle across the United States. Except for some years in my twenties where I lost interest due to personal circumstances, I’ve been an avid cyclist since I was probably 12-13 (can’t say exactly, my memory doesn’t work so well these days). I think anyone who rides a bike more than just to get from his house to that of his playmates as a kid thinks about a cross-country journey once or twice at least. I know I have, and now at 52, hopefully I’ll be able to accomplish what for so long has seemed like a distant dream, something that I’d try to do “some day.” Well, today  is THAT DAY!


Flew out yesterday after a half day at work. I had shipped my bike over a week ago via UPS, and although I know from the miracle of tracking numbers that it arrived exactly when it was supposed to, I harbored uneasy feelings that while the box and hard plastic case may have actually arrived, the contents were a completely crushed mass of carbon, aluminum, and punctured bubblewrap. So I have been very nervous this past week, that the new bike I built up over the Christmas holidays (Trek Madone 6.2/6.5 frameset, Campy Record components and Campy Eurus wheels) would be trashed, and I’d spend all day Saturday before the ride starts on Sunday scrambling around LA to buy another high-end bike in a hurry.


The past four months have been spent bundling up against the cold, wind, and snow of the Virginia winter and trying to get some training miles in before my departure. I got almost 1,000 miles in, and honestly, wouldn’t want to ride another single mile at home. I’ve been on 50-, 75-, and 100-mile rides, all by myself, and all looking at the same roads and same houses and same fields within 30 miles of Richmond, and I really want to see something else (and do it with some other living souls, not just me).


After my 4-1/2 hour flight from Atlanta toOrange County last night (in the middle seat—what a thrill that was), my arrival in Costa Mesa was anticlimactic. Base of operations for America By Bicycle is the Ramada, a place that has seen better days but was clean and functional. Despite the fact that it was nearly midnight “my time”, I retreived my bike   from the storage room and anxiously ripped open the box. Much to my relief, everything arrived just as I packed it (you’re the best, U-P-S!). Still wired up from my trip, I rebuilt everything I had had to dismantle to cram it into the box, and it all seems ready to go. I piled into bed about 2:45 eastern time, and slept for at least 4 hours before my internal biological clock said its time to get up. Hopefully I can grab a nap today.

The Costa Mesa Ramada Inn and Bike Shop

The ABB folks had a meeting scheduled at 3 that went on approximately four hours, where everyone introduced themselves and we went over logistics and safety information. Of the 21 folks starting the trip, there are two from New Zealand, one from Norway, three from the UK, and the rest are scattered throughout the US. There is one woman. Most are in the 30-50 age group.


The ABB staff is professional, and has done these trips a number of times, so they pretty much know where the pitfalls are. Still, the unpredictability of things like the weather and road conditions promises to make everyone a little nervous until hopefully we make it across.