Don's Bike Across America
Astoria, Oregon to Portsmouth, New Hampshire
June 19 to August 7, 2006

Don's Blog: A Typical Day

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If you have read the blog to this point in my journey, you probably have an idea of how the ride is set up. I thought it might be interesting and instructive as well, to offer a glimpse into typical day on the tour.

5:00 to 6:30 a.m. Wakeup Call and Breakfast

We are typically up and moving by 6:00 a.m., a little earlier for long distance days, a little later for shorter distance days. For a night owl such as myself, this has taken some getting used to. I have awoken before the wakeup call each day so far. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not.

A group breakfast is held either in the hotel/motel in which we are staying, or at a local restaurant. In either case it’s usually a mad rush for the group of 60 to eat. Some of the restaurants have not been ready for the way the riders attack the buffet line and thus have run out of food at times. I try to eat as early as I can, since I am not used to eating and then cycling directly afterwards. Others seem to have less of a problem with that schedule, however.

6:00 a.m. to 7:15 a.m. Bag Loading and Begin Riding

Sometimes before breakfast, but most times directly afterwards, we load our luggage onto the 25-foot baggage truck. At that time we also sign a sheet indicating we have done so, and are not still asleep in the room. That way, the staff can pack up the truck and move onto the next town. It has been a challenge for me to keep all of my gear organized, but somehow I’ve managed to do so, pretty much. We were supposed to be limited to one 35-puound bag, as well as a small computer case. I am just about at the limit; I know others have gone well over it.

7:15 to Early to Late Afternoon: The Ride

Using the cue sheet we were given the previous night, we begin the day’s ride. In addition to the baggage truck, there are two smaller vans that provide “sag” support, known in running circles as aid stations. The drink and food offerings are basic: Gatorade, water, and some light snacks. There are typically either one or two sag stops, depending upon the distance of the ride.

I am usually one of the last riders to start, due to the aforementioned issue of digestion time. Once I get going however, I normally do not stop for very long, if I can help it. Ten minutes at a sag stop is more than enough for me. Others tend to linger longer, socializing and relaxing. I find it too hard to get going again, especially a hot day. In addition, some riders stop for lunch at a restaurant, but I always eschew that alternative in lieu of reaching the finish of the ride. I prefer instead to get to the hotel and start the recovery process.

For me, that means cooling off, either at a hotel pool, if they have one, or a shower in the room, if not. One problem is that sometimes the first riders in beat the baggage truck to the finish of the ride, meaning we have few if any dry clothes in which to change into. In addition, sometimes the rooms are not ready. So far, that has only happened a few times for myself, and each time there was a pool in which to cool off while I waited for the room to be ready. I hope that trend continues.

I will have something to eat, either a snack or s small meal, then try to have a short nap if I can, during the afternoon. That way I am not as anxious if don’t get a full allottement of sleep during the night.

4:30 to 5:00 p.m. Route Wrap

Usually before dinner, but sometimes afterward, we all gather for “route wrap,” the terminology used for discussing the layout of the next day’s ride and any special issues we need to be aware of. The cue sheets are well written and usually fairly easy to follow. Also at that time, riders offer any interesting anecdotes from that day’s ride, such as wildlife spotted and the like. Some riders have bike computers or GPS devices that calculate the accumulated elevation gain for the day’s ride. A few times so far it has topped 5,000 feet in total. We all silently and smugly congratulate ourselves for being such lean and mean cycling machines, able to conquer such massive climbs ;-)

5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Dinner

Like breakfast, dinner is held either at the hotel or a local restaurant. Sometimes we eat as a group, other times at staggered times (when the restaurant can’t serve everyone at once). The dinners have been pretty decent for the most part. They are held buffet style. I have been able to handle almost all of the entrées offered so far. It’s pretty basic fare, and there are always extras to stock up on if the entrée is not that desirable.

7:00 p.m. and Later

Those of us with laptops often log on after dinner. Others mill around or hang out in the lobby to talk, or call friends and loved ones. Whenever possible I have tried to chat up some of the locals at this time, either folks passing by or even the hotel and/or restaurant workers, just to get a perspective on what life is like in the locale in which we are staying.

Most people, including myself, try to go to sleep pretty early, what with a challenging ride scheduled for the next day. They do come around pretty quickly!